Doctoral Training Partnerships

SeNSS: South East Network for Social Sciences

South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) is an ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnerships, which promotes inventive and inclusive social science research training and collaboration, and awards funded SeNSS Studentships. Essex is one of the 10 world-leading institutions that comprise the membership of the SeNSS DTP:
  • University of Essex (as coordinating institution)
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Kent
  • University of Reading
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Sussex
  • Roehampton University
  • City University
  • Goldsmiths (University of London)
  • Royal Holloway (University of London)

Essex is involved in seven pathways of study:

  • Economics
  • Politics and International Studies
  • Business and Management
  • Linguistics
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Socio-Legal Studies

2022 studentships 

Workshop for applicants

We will be hosting an online workshop and Q&A session for all potential applicants and supervisors on Wednesday 20 October 2021 between 11am-12pm. You can join the online workshop via Zoom. The workshop will be recorded and will be available on request. Please contact the Graduate Administrator in the department to which you are applying, or email the PGRE Team.

What does the studentship provide?

You will receive subject-specific and advanced training, whilst undertaking your research in an innovative, ground-breaking and empowering research environment, amongst our thriving postgraduate community. You'll also be provided with opportunities for overseas visits and fieldwork, attending and presenting at conferences and events, academic publishing and work placement opportunities.

SeNSS Studentship Funding supports both full- and part-time study, and covers:

  • Fully-funded studentships: a tax-free maintenance stipend to cover your living costs: this is set at £15,609 per year.
  • Fees: whether you have home or international fee status, no SeNSS-funded student will have to pay any university tuition fees for the duration of their funding award
  • Access to Research Training Support Grant funds.
  • Access to other funds to be used for overseas fieldwork, overseas institutional visits, difficult language training, placements etc.

Are you eligible?

Residential criteria

UKRI has relaxed its residential eligibility rules. Now, regardless of whether you are a "home" applicant or an "international" applicant, you can apply for a studentship. However, there is a cap on numbers, as only up to 30% of studentship awards can be made to international applicants.

To be classed as a home student, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or 
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If you do not meet the criteria above, you are classed as an international student. Please note that, due to the cap, SeNSS is limited by the ESRC to awarding approximately 10-12 studentships to international applicants each year.

Further guidance on residential eligibility is provided in Annex B of the UKRI guidance.

SeNSS has produced an informative FAQs document.

Academic eligibility

For Masters and PhD funding (1+3, or +4 award structures): qualifications or experience equal to a first (1) or upper second (2.1) class honours degree, or an equivalent combination of qualifications and/or experience are required.

For PhD (+3) funding: qualifications or experience equal to a Masters degree with distinction or merit, or an equivalent combination of qualifications and/or experience are required. Your Masters degree must be in a relevant discipline, and include significant research methods training.

How to apply

The SeNSS 2022 studentship competition will be opening very soon so please continue to check these pages for updates, as well as the SeNSS DTP Funding Opportunities webpage.

Applications for SeNSS Studentships will need to be submitted using the SeNSS Studentship application form. The deadline is 12pm (GMT) (midday) on Tuesday 25 January 2022. 

In addition to your SeNSS Studentship application, you must also apply for your place on the relevant course at Essex. The deadline for you to have applied for a place on your course at Essex is 12pm (GMT) on by midnight on 5 January 2022

You can apply for a studentship in one of the following Pathways:


Studentships are available as +3 (PhD) or 4- year (Masters and PhD) awards, and on a full-time or part-time basis. Choose which course you want to study, and apply for a place on that course by 12pm (GMT) by midnight on 5 January 2022.

We strongly encourage you to contact the School or Department you wish to apply to at the earliest opportunity in order to discuss your research proposal and potential supervision arrangements. This is particularly important in order to give supervisors enough time to assist in the development of your application to ensure the best chance of success.

Please note that you will need to discuss your application with the department to which you are applying for a place of study.
You can already start thinking about and drafting the key aspects of your application; you can outline your research proposal, plans and timeline for completion. Your supervisor will be able to offer you advice about how best to do this.

You can also start on your personal statement, which should address the following key questions; why are you applying for this studentship; why are you the best person for this research project; how are you and your proposed supervisors the best fit; why SeNSS and how will the SeNSS studentship enable you to achieve what you are proposing?

SeNSS also encourages applications that are AQM-based (which use advanced quantitative methods, and/or large datasets, and/or big data methods and associated innovative analytical methods -more than one may apply). If your application is AQM-based, please ensure you highlight this in your application. For further information on what consists an AQM-based application, please click here.

What's the selection process for studentship competitions?

After the submission deadline, applications pass through an internal University selection process, before a decision is made whether to nominate particular applications to SeNSS, for consideration at the relevant SeNSS Pathway Panel. Applications put forward to these panels are considered alongside applications from other SeNSS partner institutions.

The final selection phase, conducted by the SeNSS Management Board, will be held during, and you will be notified by mid-April whether you have been awarded a SeNSS student-led studentship.

The selection criteria used to assess applications across all pathways, degree types and at all levels of the selection process is:

Evidence of the quality and feasibility of the proposal (40%) 

This will be based on your outline of your proposed research project, your reasons for pursuing it, and its wider significance. It will also be based on the information supplied by your proposed primary supervisor. SeNSS assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to design and conduct a strong research project, a coherent and well thought-out research plan, a strong awareness of the place of your research within the current field, and potential impact. Reference will be made to your personal statement, as contained in your application, as well as your supervisor’s supporting statement. 

Evidence that you are well-prepared for your proposed research and future career (40%) 

This will be based on your description of how your previous experience (academic and/or professional) has prepared you for postgraduate study and research, your referees’ evaluation of your suitability for such research based on

  • a) your performance at undergraduate and postgraduate level (if relevant);
  • b) your relevant professional experience (if relevant); and
  • c) your description of how the programme will contribute to your long-term career aims.

Reference will be made to the degree transcripts and module marks you have provided. Reference will also be made to both your supervisor’s and referees’ supporting statements.

Evidence of the suitability of the proposed supervision and training (20%)

This will be based on your proposed supervisors’ research areas, knowledge and expertise in relation to your proposed project, the individual roles of the proposed supervisory team, your identified training needs and suggested ways of meeting those training needs. Reference will primarily be made to the information provided by your proposed primary supervisor which should, in turn, reflect on the expertise brought to your project by your second supervisor. 

Please note that all 4-year award applications (1+3, 2+2 and +4) will be assessed in a way that recognises that applicants are likely to have had less training and fewer opportunities to develop a detailed proposed research project than an applicant for a +3 studentship. 


SeNSS collaborative studentship competition

Now open for applications

Project title: The drivers of demand for intellectual property (IP) instruments in the UK

Primary supervisor: Prof.Suma Athreye

Institution details: Essex Business School, Department of Economics, University of Essex

Collaborative partner:UK Intellectual Property Office

SeNSS Pathway: Business and Management / Economics

Degreestructure: either a three-year PhD programme (+3), or a one year Masters degree followed by a three-year PhD programme (1+3)

Project background

The PhD scholarship will allow a fully funded PhD student to undertake ground-breaking research uncovering the drivers of demand for IP instruments such as patents, trademarks design rights and trade secrets, those who do and do not acquire IP rights and why, the extent to which trends in IP ownership have been driven by underlying changes in the economy such as the move to digital structures, and the interaction of different types of IP that may be combined into a bundle.  New data sources – available due to past investments by the UKIPO –will allow us to shed more light on these old questions and in a way that is targeted to the UK, including in a post-Brexit environment.  The scholarship will also provide the student with an important opportunity to develop his/her research working closely with UK Intellectual Property Office experts, with the potential of having access to relevant data and other similar organisations and stakeholders.  The student will be empowered in their path to become an independent researcher by a supportive and experienced supervisory team.


Project aims and objectives

The PhD project comprises three aims, which can be addressed through three interrelated essays:

(i)         To summarise the literature on the drivers of IP demand, and the tools to analyse them.  It will outline the background of the theoretical and empirical bases for estimating demand for a bundle of IP instruments, contrasted to single instruments.

(ii)        To analyse in depth the demand for IP instruments – potentially as a bundle - and use this to develop policy responses to any identified barriers to IP take-up where such take-up would be beneficial to innovativeness and growth.  

(iii)       Explore the dynamics through which demand for IP instruments evolves over time, to trace and explain the dynamics of holding patterns of IP, and different (perceived and reported) outcomes in terms of product market share.


Supervisors:Prof Suma Athreye, (Essex Business School University of Essex), Prof Katharine Rockett , Department of Economics, University of Essex) Rich Corken, (Deputy Director; Economics, Research and Evidence, UKIPO)


Training Opportunities

A comprehensive package of training will be agreed in consultation with the supervisors. Elements of training will be provided by the supervisors, University of Essex and by other providers and will provide the student with an important opportunity to grow competences and skills in quantitative analysis, applying them in the inter-disciplinary area of Economics and the management of intellectual property.


Studentship details

This studentship may be taken as either a 1+3 year award (a one-year master’s degree as appropriate  followed by a three-year PhD), or a +3 award (a three-year PhD):

  • It may be taken full-time or part-time; and,
  • The studentship award covers your university fees, and provides you with a stipend of £15,285 per year. You will also be able to apply for small amounts of additional funding via the SeNSS Research Training Support Grant.


Residential eligibility

To be eligible for a full award you must be a Home or International student who satisfies the criteria below:

To be a home student, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If you do not meet any of the criteria above, you are classed as an international student.


Applicants: essential and/or desirable attributes/skills

A background in Strategic Management, Technology Management, Applied Economics or related disciplines and a willingness to engage with practice and policy are required for this project. Excellent communication skills and the flexibility to work both in a team and independently are also mainstays of this project. 


How to apply for this studentship

You will need to make two separate applications; one for your place to study at the University of Essex, and one to SeNSS for this collaborative studentship.

  1. SeNSS studentship: Please read the SeNSS Collaborative Studentship Application Guidance Notes before completing the online application form.
  2. Application to the University of Essex: Please follow the advice on How to apply for a PhD for information on how to make your application.  

Students who have studied Economics for their first degree can apply for a PhD in Economics. Students from other related backgrounds such as Law, Industrial Engineering, Management and Data Science backgrounds can apply for the PhD in Management, where you can build the training you require in a more customised way. As we work with the Economics Research and Evidence division of the UK IPO who expect a quantitative approach to the question of Drivers of IP demand, a willingness to acquire quantitative skills and to master the Economics and Management of Intellectual Property will be important.

Please note that, when you make your Essex application you do not need to submit a research proposal. Instead you are advised to submit your SeNSS Collaborative Studentship Application in place of the research proposal.



The deadline for submitting your SeNSS Collaborative Studentship Application on HEIapply is 12:00 GMT on 28 February 2022.

No extensions to this deadline will be permitted.


Timeline for recruitment and selection

Following the application closing date on 12pm (midday) GMT on 28 February 2022, shortlisting will take place and shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview with at least one week’s notice.

Interviews are likely to take place during 21 – 23 March


For further enquiries

For academic enquiries related to the studentship topic, Business and Management applicants should  email Prof Suma Athreye ( and Economics pathway students should email Prof. Katharine Rockett (

For enquiries related to your eligibility for this studentship, and the application process, please email:

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

SeNSS 2021/22 ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship competition now open.

SeNSS offers six ESRC-funded Post-Doctoral Fellowships (PDFs) each year, which provide an opportunity for Post-Doctoral researcher to consolidate their PhD research through developing publications, their networks, and their research and professional skills.

What's on offer?

The PDF grants provide funding for up to one year full-time, or up to two years part-time. In exceptional cases, applicants can apply for a fellowship for up to 18 months; however, this must be fully justified by the programme of activities being proposed.

Fellowships cover:

  • the Fellow's salary costs;
  • indirect costs;
  • estate costs; and,
  • up to £10,000 of other costs.

One of these Fellowships is ring-fenced for an applicant whose proposal is aligned with UKRI/ESRC industrial strategy. For this competition, the ESRC defines alignment as either addressing specific skills gaps (AQM or data skills/science) or as entailing collaboration with a private sector partner, or co-designed research activity. 


Are you eligible?


This call is open to those who have:

  1. Completed their PhD at a research organisation that is part of a current ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) or Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT). A list of these DTPs and CDTs is available at the bottom of the ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowships web page; AND,
  2. by the application deadline (23 March 2022), either been awarded a PhD or submitted their thesis and passed their viva voce (or passed with minor corrections), with the expectation that their PhD will be awarded by the Fellowship start date (1 October 2022); AND,
  3. no more than 12 months of active post-doctoral experience. This 12 month period is calculated from the viva being passed to the closing date of the competition, 23 March 2022. 

How to apply?


  • Please read the ESRC’s documents (see below) carefully, and ensure you are eligible for a PDF.
  • If you are eligible, start thinking about, and drafting your topic and programme of work and think about who would be best-suited to mentoring you during your PDF at Essex, and make contact with that senior academic
  •  Support for applications at Essex is available from colleagues in the Research and Enterprise Office. The key contacts are Gary Williams and Richard Gunn
  • Mentors: the ESRC requires fellows to have a mentor based at the research organisation where the fellowship is held, and states that “a secondary mentor is permitted”. Please note that SeNSS requires its fellows to have two mentors during their fellowship: one based at the fellow’s home institution, and one at another SeNSS institution. SeNSS has taken this position, which is endorsed by the ESRC, because we believe that having a second mentor from a different SeNSS university will strengthen the fellow’s research, expose the fellow to different institutional practices and increase the fellow’s access to professional academic and non-academic networks.
  • ESRC requires fellows to have a mentor based at the research organisation where the fellowship is held, and states that “a secondary mentor is permitted”. Please note that SeNSS requires its Fellows to have two mentors during their fellowship: one based at the Fellow’s home institution, and one at another SeNSS institution. SeNSS has taken this position, which is endorsed by the ESRC, because we believe that having a second mentor from a different SeNSS university strengthens the Fellow’s research, exposes the Fellow to different institutional practices, and increases the Fellow’s access to professional academic and non-academic networks. Our current and former Fellows’ experience has borne this out. Therefore, applicants must name two mentors in their applications.
  • Submit your expression of interest (EoI) to Gary Williams [] and Richard Gunn [] by 4.00pm GMT on Monday 17 January 2022). SeNSS requires you to submit an EoI by the deadline so that we can gauge demand and, most importantly, support you in your application, including working with you on your costings. You can obtain the expression of interest form here.
  • SeNSS only accepts applications submitted via SeNSS’ online application portal, HEIapply. You can get further information and support for your application on the SeNSS PDF competition webpage


The deadline for submitting your application is 4pm on 23 March 2022.



ESRC Post-doctoral Fellowship application documents

ESRC Call Specification - sets out what is included in a PDF awards, the eligibility criteria, what is required in the application etc. 

ESRC PDF FAQs - provides answers to questions about PDF awards

ESRC PDF application form (docx) -please note that SeNSS will only accept online applications, via its online portal. The SeNSS application differs slightly from the ESRC template form in that it asks for some additional information. The ESRC template is only included here to give you an idea of what is required of you should you decided to submit a full application

Further guidance for applicants, Mentors and Referees can be found on the SeNSS  PDF competition webpage

SeNSS has an example of an excellent application, on their Post-Doctoral Fellowship FAQs.

Support for applications at Essex is available from colleagues in the Research and Enterprise Office. The key contacts are Gary Williams and Richard Gunn

Get in touch
Postgraduate Research Education Team