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UNESCO Trail in Scotland PhD Scholarship - UNESCO Designations As Sites Of Restorative Integration And Embodied Decoloniality

   College of Social Sciences

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  Prof Alison Phipps  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD will supervised by Prof Alison Phipps & Co-supervised by Dr Sadie Ryan and a member of UNESCO National Commission in an advisory capacity. You will join and be supported by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, artists, and professional staff as a member of the UNESCO RILA team.

UNESCO’s UNITWIN and Chairs programme promotes international cooperation and networking to mobilise collaboration around the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence – education, natural and social sciences, culture and communication.

UNESCO RILA supports learning from contexts which have long-term refugee and migratory experiences and where resilience has been developed, often in the face of overwhelming linguistic and cultural destruction. Working with our cross-sectorial partners, we engage in research and advocacy for creative and artistic approaches to integration, which sustain linguistic and cultural diversity, foster creativity and intercultural capabilities and promote peace.

UNESCO RILA and our researchers are housed within the School of Education, and we are part of the “Culture, Literacies, Inclusion and Pedagogy” Research and Teaching Group

Project details

The world’s first ever UNESCO Trail was launched on 15 October 2021, bringing together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites. Scotland’s UNESCO Trail is a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland and Scotland’s 13 UNESCO designations. The trail encourages members of the public to visit the full range of UNESCO place-based designation categories, e.g. New Lanark World Heritage Site, Edinburgh City of Literature, Shetland Global Geopark, and Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. It brings together these diverse sites whilst promoting responsible tourism and demonstrating Scotland’s unique contribution in the world.

UNESCO RILA is in the process of creating a parallel trail to accompany and complement Scotland’s UNESCO Trail through the co-design of learning and sharing opportunities linked to each site. Working with Trail Partnership representatives and our global partners and networks, we will co-design a programme of activities, learning packs, and digital assets (housed in a project website) under a national framework for place-based cultural heritage engagement with global development and decolonising dimensions, linking each Scottish site with either UK and/or international UNESCO designations, and cultural practices from the list of intangible cultural heritage.

By telling the stories of the land, the people, and our human heritage, we will engage with citizens of the UK and beyond in the pursuit of global peacebuilding.

Through ‘co-creation visits’ we will, with designations and their stakeholders, design resources to support individuals and communities to develop skills and approaches to address chronic and acute global challenges such as xenophobia, conflict, and climate change. By supporting concepts of Gal Gael (good Guesting and good Hosting) we will promote responsible tourism and intercultural dialogue with an ambition to support thriving communities whilst encouraging the protection of the natural and cultural heritage of the designations which benefits visitors and residents alike.

The trail will also address UNESCO's core missions to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.

This PhD will support the overall development of the RILA trail, concentrating on a subset of designations in Scotland (2-3 sites). You will develop international networks through virtual and in-person visits to our collaborative partners. We welcome project proposals which consider a sustainable, restorative approach to refugee integration and indigenous cultures, and how these can be translated into inclusive narrative experiences for visitors and stakeholders at UNESCO sites in Scotland.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science and/or Arts and Humanities component
  • A good Master’s degree (or overseas equivalent) with a significant component in any of the following:
  • practice-based research
  • place-based learning
  • museum, migration and refugee studies and/or education
  • community development
  • A demonstratable interest in, and knowledge of: addressing inequalities; sustainability; decolonising heritage. 
  • A foundational understanding of: the New Scots Integration Strategy; UNESCO and UNESCO designations; the role languages play in a range of migration issues; concepts underlying intercultural dialogue. 

This is a 3-year PhD and therefore applicants should demonstrate that they do not require substantial research training.

Please note that all applicants must also meet the entry requirements for the Education, PhD

Award details

The scholarship is available as a +3 programme only. The programme will commence in October 2022. Due to the nature of the funding, we regret but this studentship cannot be undertaken part time. 

  • An annual stipend at the UKRI rate
  • Fees at the standard home rate
  • Students can also draw on a Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year
  • Students may also draw on UNESCO RILA Trail project funds, to be discussed and agreed as part of the studentship award process.

How to apply

Applicants must apply via the Scholarships Application Portal, uploading the following documentation:

  • UNESCO Trail in Scotland PhD Scholarship application form (in Word format)
  • Academic transcripts (All relevant Undergraduate and Master’s level degree transcripts (and translations, if not originally in English) – provisional transcripts are sufficient if you are yet to complete your degree).
  • 2 references (where possible your references should include an academic familiar with your work. Both references can be from academics but you may include a work reference, especially if you have been out of academia for more than 5 years).
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) (academic where applicable).

Selection process

Applications will be assessed by a selection panel and shortlisted applicants will be asked to attend a remote interview.

  • Shortlisting will take place between 30 May – 5 June.
  • Applicants notified of interview by 10 June
  • Interviews will be scheduled 20-22 June.
  • Outcomes will be communicated shortly thereafter.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the School of Education. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

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