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

What is a SeNSS collaborative studentship?

You will join an expert team of leading Social Scientists and an external partner (from industry, government, or an NGO, in the UK or abroad) who have already developed and defined a research project.

You will play a leading role in the project as the doctoral researcher on the team.

The 2022 SeNSS collaborative studentship competition will be advertised here shortly.

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

SeNSS 2021/22 ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship competition opening soon.


Get in touch
Postgraduate Research Education Team