ESRC Industry Strategy Studentship

ESRC Industry Strategy Studentship

ESRC Industry Strategy Studentship

Project Title: Using Understanding Society as a microscope to examine the "class ceiling" in the UK labour market


Recent evidence has uncovered a class based wage penalty in the UK labour market, where wages are correlated with social origin, even when other attributes such as education have been controlled for. This has been referred to as the "class ceiling" on account of similarities with the gender pay gap. This project contributes to the evidence base on the class ceiling by examining the extent to which social origin influences labour market outcomes independently of level of education and to explore how these effects are mediated. Given the prevailing policy emphasis on education as a means of social advancement, identifying the extent and magnitude of class wage penalties is particularly important. Specifically, the study will exploit the rich longitudinal data provided by the household panel survey Understanding Society (US). The combination of data on educational and labour market outcomes with a wealth of information on individual attributes and social context, enables the testing of a diverse range of theoretical perspectives on what influences systemic differences between identically qualified individual, spanning economics, education and sociology.

The ideal candidate will have an undergraduate and/or master’s degree in economics, education, sociology, public policy, statistics, or related fields, a strong background in quantitative social science, and knowledge of working with micro data using statistical software such as STATA, SPSS or R.

The PhD Project will be supervised by Kristinn Hermannsson in the School of Education and Jeanette Findlay in the Adam Smith Business School.


Home/EU applicants are eligible to apply.

ESRC eligibility information

ESRC Eligibility Checker Tool

First or Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) or a Master's qualification or equivalent are required.

The Award

The scholarship is open for 1+3 (1 year Masters followed by 3 year PhD), or +3 (3 years PhD only) commencing in October 2018 and depending on your eligibility for a full award (see ESRC Eligibility information and Checker Tool above), will provide:

  • a stipend at the enhanced RCUK rate (2018-19 rate is £17,777 full-time / £10,666.20 part time)
  • 100 % tuition fee waiver
  • access to the Research Training Support Grant

If a fees only award is granted (see ESRC Eligibility information and Checker Tool above), this will provide a 100% tuition fee waiver only.

How to Apply

All applicants should complete and collate the following documentation then attach to a single email and send to with the subject line ' Using Understanding Society as a microscope to examine the "class ceiling" in the UK labour market by July 15th 2018

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 colour of the original documents.

2. References

Two 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 clearly labelling the reference e.g. “<applicant name> ESRC-AQM News Media Scholarship Reference”

3. Copy of CV

4. Applicant Statement

A brief statement outlining interest in, and suitability to undertake this research (500 words max).

5. Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership Equal Opportunities Form

Download here.

6. Copy of the ESRC Eligibility Checker Tool outcome

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

For further information or details about the Project, please contact Kristinn Hermannsson or Jeanette Findlay.

Selection Process

Applications will be assessed by a selection panel and shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme 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.