Ward Trust Scholarship: Poverty alleviation, virtues and values: Tackling inequality in a rural Chinese setting

Ward Trust Scholarship: Poverty alleviation, virtues and values: Tackling inequality in a rural Chinese setting


The government of China is engaged in a massive poverty alleviation initiative targeting the poorest rural regions and a promoting participatory approach[1] involving organizations such as universities and accounting firms. The main aim of this project is to understand and critically explore this initiative, to study how it is being implemented in particular contexts / cases, and with what effects on the communities targeted and the organizations participating.

The project will explore, through one or more cases, the capacity of this poverty alleviation initiative and associated practices of accountability and economic democracy to empower people, and to build the capabilities and the social capital, including norms of trust and reciprocity, crucial to the stability of a just society. It will also consider any adverse impacts of the initiative.

We are seeking PhD candidate who wish to pursue research on the social and political role of accounting measurements and accounting knowledge in the context of Chinese rural villages.

The project is broadly interested in such themes as:

a)    The measurement of poverty and the impact of poverty alleviation efforts, and the effects of such measurements;

b)    Consideration of the case from the perspectives of “humanitarian” versus “critical and locally-justified” poverty alleviation practice;

c)    Critical consideration, within the case of the role (empowering or disempowering) of financial literacy and related educational elements of the poverty alleviation project;

d)    Critical consideration of accountability within the cooperative enterprise at the heart of the poverty alleviation project, with reflection on the experience and effects of villagers’ exposure, through the project, to “economic democracy” in action. Assessing whether the effects are truly empowering, and whether they orientate to the collective good or to individual advancement.

We are seeking highly motivated applicants for full-time PhD, starting in January 2019. This PhD studentship will be for 3 years subject to satisfactory progress. The prospective PhD student will be co-supervised by Professor John McKernan, Dr Yingru Li, and Dr Alvise Favotto, of the Adam Smith Business School.


Home/EU and International applicants are eligible to apply.

Applicants are expected to have a First or Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) or a good Master's qualification in Accounting, Anthropology, Business Studies, Politics, Sociology or related Social Science subjects. Applicants must meet the English Language Requirements set by the University of Glasgow for PhD studies in Social Sciences: https://www.gla.ac.uk/international/englishlanguage/requirements/  

Applicants must be fluent in spoken and written Chinese, with a HSK level of 5 (score 240 or above) or Level 6 (score 180 or above) if Chinese is not the first language.

Experience of conducting fieldwork and qualitative research is desirable but not essential. International research experience especially in China is also desirable but not essential.

The Award

The scholarship is open to +3 (3 years PhD only) commencing in January 2019 and will provide:

  • a stipend at the RCUK rate (2018-19 rate is £14,777 Full-Time / £8,866.20 Part-Time)
  • 100 % tuition fee waiver
  • a research support grant of £750 (£450 part-time) per annum

How to Apply

All applicants should complete and collate the following documentation then attach to a single email and send to Angela Foster Angela.Foster@glasgow.ac.uk and/or Christine Athorne Christine.Athorne@glasgow.ac.uk  with the subject line ‘Wards Trust Scholarship – Poverty Alleviation in China' by 26th October 2018 (GMT 12 noon).

1. Academic Transcript(s) and Degree Certificate(s)

Final or current degree transcripts including grades and degree certificates (and official translations, if needed) - scanned copy in color of the original documents.

2. References

2 references on headed paper (academic and/or professional).

At least one reference must be academic, the other can be academic or professional. Your references should be on official headed paper. These should also be signed by the referee.

If your referees would prefer to provide confidential references direct to the University then we can also accept the reference by email, from the referee's official university or business email account to Angela Foster Angela.Foster@glasgow.ac.uk and/or Christine Athorne Christine.Athorne@glasgow.ac.uk clearly labelling the reference e.g. “<applicant name> Wards Trust Scholarship Reference”

3. Copy of CV

4. Applicant Statement 

A brief 2-page document outlining your proposed contribution to the research project. The candidate should include any experience of conducting qualitative research and fieldwork as well as any relevant experience of research in China.

Any application which fails to meet the above requirements will not be considered.

For further information or details about the Project

Please contact Dr. Yingru Li (Yingru.Li@glasgow.ac.uk) and/or Professor John McKernan (John.McKernan@glasgow.ac.uk)

Selection Process

Applications will be assessed by the Project Team and shortlisted applicants may be invited to an interview. Interviews will form part of the selection process and are either in person or via Skype, if required. Interviews normally comprise a question and answer session for you to talk about your previous research or training experience, and your reasons for applying to the project.

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

[1]    China’s Rural Poverty Reduction Compendium (2011-2020): http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2011-12/01/content_2008462.htm .