Skip to content


Opportunity: PhD studentship: causes of and consequences of educational disruption owing to irregular school transition

University of Bath PhD studentship

Apply for a full-time studentship to support the work of the departments of Education and Biology & Biochemistry as part of a genetics and evolution teaching project.

The project

Irregular transition between schools outside of normal admission points is known to be disruptive to early education and hence a major barrier to engagement at higher level. What is not well understood is whether:

  • all forms of irregular school transition (IST) are equally disruptive

  • attainment in all subject areas is equally affected

This study will test two hypotheses:

  • ISTs that are embedded within a routine culture (such as in military families) are less disruptive than those forced on families (via divorce, housing benefit reform, redundancy and for children in care)

  • that curriculum subjects that require contextual embedding for clear progress to be made (maths and sciences) are more profoundly affected than subjects in which contextual progress is of lesser importance (English)

Prior evidence suggests at Key Stage 2 there may be a maths/English difference, but this may diminish by Key Stage 4. These hypotheses will be tested within this mixed method doctoral study.

The second question can be addressed by big data analysis of national databases of student attainment and irregular school transition. The former question will be investigated by quantitative and qualitative analysis comparing children whose parents are in the military (routine relocation) and those with ISTs owing to spontaneous factors (divorce, redundancy for example).

As a control, the study will consider military families that haven’t moved and students of divorced parents and children receiving free school meals who haven’t had to relocate.

Research supervision

If successful, you will conduct your research under the co-supervision of:

  • Dr Ceri Brown an expert in mobility/disadvantage and educational attainment alongside qualitative analysis.

  • Professor Laurence Hurst is a world leading international expert on the evolution of genetic systems and an expert in the statistical handling of big data.

You will reside in Professor Hurst’s GeVo teach team alongside PhDs doing extensive large data set analysis.

You will also contribute to the ‘social and geographic mobility’ strand of the Internationalisation and Globalisation of Education research cluster .

Award funding

If successful, you will be supported for three years. Funding includes:

  • £14,296 (2016/17 rate) per year stipend

  • Home/EU tuition fees

  • an annual Training Support Grant

Terms and conditions and details of other awards can be found on the Graduate School website .

Funding requirements

To be considered for this funding you must:

  • Have an interest in educational disadvantage and learning inequalities

  • have a strong understanding of quantitative research methods (including statistical methodologies)

  • have an interest in mixed method research involving qualitative and quantitative research

We will look favourably on applicants that can demonstrate experience in R and an understanding of SPSS or qualitative research methods.

Apply for this studentship

1. Apply to study

You must apply online for a full-time Department of Education PhD

You must quote the project title (causes of and consequences of educational disruption owing to irregular school transition) in your application.

There is no need to write a full formal research proposal (2,000-3,000 words) in your application to study as this studentship is for a specific project.

2. Provide a personal statement

As part of your application please provide a personal statement of 500-1,000 words with your initial thoughts on the research topic.


The closing date for the receipt of applications is 12.00 noon (GMT) on Tuesday 28th February 2017.

Interviews are preliminarily scheduled for 16-17 March 2017.

The studentship will begin either by 1 June 2017 or in October 2017. Please indicate on your application whether you are able to start by the 1st June 2017. Preference may be given to a suitable candidate able to start this academic year.

Informal enquiries

Project enquiries

Dr Ceri Brown

01225 38 6294

Application enquiries

01225 38 6180