Social Justice or Indoctrination: Investigating the Importance of Quality and Inclusive RSHE as Part of Initial Teacher Training in England


   School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

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  Mr Matthew Round, Dr Angie Dharmaraj-Savicks, Dr Alessia Tranchese  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a fully-funded, three-year, campus-based PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Mat Round, Dr Angeline Dharmaraj-Savicks and Dr Alessia Tranchese

The successful applicant will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a £2,000 research allowance to cover conference/ training costs and consumables. 

Costs for student visas and immigration health surcharges are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.    

The work on this project could involve:

  • Developing new understandings of the pedagogy and andragogy involved in Initial Teacher Training.
  • Access to already established teacher training and RSHE charity networks, as well as the opportunity to develop these networks on an international basis. 
  • Employing innovative methodologies to develop a child-centered approach for RSHE within Initial Teacher Training programmes in England.
  • The opportunity to teach on modules in the School of Education, Languages and Linguistics (up to 6 hours per week during term time) and attain Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)

Project description

Since the launch of the RSHE (Relationships Sex and Health Education) framework in England in 2019, there have been a number of high-profile protests against its implementation, constructing a debate regarding sex and sexuality education in schools, and the extent to which the state (and by extension schools) should be involved in RSHE. Within this crucible can also be found the ready access that young people have to online technologies, social media, and online pornography, which have the potential to influence young people’s understanding of gender, sex, sexuality and sexual relationships. 

Despite the centrality of sex education in children’s and young people’s well-being and development, RSHE is still an under-developed aspect of initial, and ongoing, teacher training, and, in some cases, this lack of training, combined with the stigma attached to discussing certain “taboo” topics, means that many teachers feel uncomfortable in delivering sex education to pupils. Your PhD project will allow you to develop an innovative child-centred approach to Initial Teacher Training that sees sex education as having much broader relevance than reproductive health, setting RSHE within a framework of human rights, social justice, and gender equality.

Your PhD project will not only enable you to develop RSHE as a part of Initial Teacher Training, but it’s expected that you will also develop policy briefings for central government departments, work with national and international sex and sexuality education charities, and showcase your research at national and international conferences.

General admissions criteria

You'll need a first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. You’ll need English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

You’ll need to have academic or professional experience within the English education system (Primary, secondary, or in FE).

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Mat Round ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency (if required) and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. As this is a pre-defined project, you do not need to submit a research proposal at this stage.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SELL8820124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.


Education (11) Politics & Government (30) Psychology (31) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a £2,000 research allowance to cover conference/ training costs and consumables.
Costs for student visas and immigration health surcharges are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.