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PhD Studentship - Setting the assets-based agenda: a critical realist exploration


   Faculty of Health & Social Sciences


About the Project

PhD Studentship - Setting the assets-based agenda: a critical realist exploration

This is an exciting opportunity to make an important contribution to the understanding of community development. Its focus will on assets-based approaches to health and well-being. This approach involves building on the assets found in communities and mobilising individuals and community-led organisations to develop their strengths and their capacity to improve the health and well-being of community members.  

The PhD will be part of a wider programme of research that is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, called ‘Common Health Assets: a mixed-methods, realist evaluation and economic appraisal of how community-led organisations (CLOs) impact on the health and wellbeing of people living in deprived areas’. The student will have the opportunity to be part of a strong interdisciplinary team that includes academics from universities in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

This PhD will take a step back from the immediate analysis of how effective community led organisations have been in mobilising community assets to look at how community assets approaches have developed and what has influenced their development.  

The basic premise of the PhD is that community assets approaches mean different things to different constituencies. While practitioners are an important constituency in the provision of assets-based initiatives, they are only one of a number of stakeholder groups, which also include policy makers and administrators in central government, local government and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, and community members that engage with the initiatives. 

This PhD project will examine how these various social groups have influenced the direction of asset-based interventions, and in turn how (if at all) those interventions have influenced social relations. It will seek to: 

  • differentiate between different stakeholders’ conceptualisations of, and influence over the development of asset-based approaches; 
  • identify the nature and extent of different stakeholders’ influence; 
  • establish how the combined influence of different agendas have contributed to the form and function that asset-based interventions have taken; and 
  • explore the extent to which these interventions have influenced wider social relations. 

Entry requirements:

The BU PhD and MRes Studentships are open to UK, EU and International students.

Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:

  • Outstanding academic potential as measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree (or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA) or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent
  • An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language and this must be evidenced at point of application.

In addition to satisfying minimum entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.

Applicants will be asked to submit an online application form and a proposal (approximately 1500 words) outlining their understanding of the project for which they are applying, the approach they would envisage taking and what qualities they will bring to the research community.

How to apply:

Click the green ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the BU PhD studentship page and complete the online application form. You can find further guidance about applying for a postgraduate research degree in our Postgraduate Research section.


Funding Notes

A fully-funded Studentship includes a maintenance grant of £15,450 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months.
Associated costs, such as for fieldwork and conference attendance, will also be met under the Studentship.

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