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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Alice Brown PhD Scholarships

6-year part-time PhD scholarships in the School of Social and Political Science

Applications are now closed and results will be advised in Spring 2020.

Please note: you will only be able to apply for a scholarship after you have submitted an application to study; the application to study must be submitted in advance of the scholarship application deadline. It is recommended that the application to study is submitted at least two weeks prior to the scholarship application deadline.

Guidance on the scholarships application system is here.

Before applying, please read the Self-Assessment page, which provides helpful information about the factors that help make a successful application.  Please note that applications for the College Research Award are extremely competitive, and every year demand far outstrips supply. 

Scholarship details

The Alice Brown Scholarship is a 6-year part-time PhD scholarship offering a programme of advanced study, ongoing research, professional training and development. In combination with their research methods training, subject specific training, and doctoral studies successful candidates will also work with supervisors, the Student Development Office, and the  Alice Brown Scholarship Programme Coordinator to participate in a comprehensive ongoing programme of professional development.

There will be a particular emphasis on digital skills, including the opportunity to develop expertise in online design and content creation and blended learning. Successful candidates will also work with the Graduate School and relevant research clusters/centres to gain professional academic skills, and hands-on experience of knowledge exchange and public engagement activities with communities, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

We would expect successful candidates, within their programme of training, to contribute to the School’s strategic aims. This could be through participating in digital skills development, contributing to efforts to widen participation and access to higher education for students from non-traditional backgrounds or other development activities.

In combination with their time commitment on studies, training, and participation, scholarship holders will be expected to take up paid work opportunities in teaching and research assistance, to gain experience and consolidate their training.

Applications are welcome for PhD projects in the following broad areas:

Prospective candidates are encouraged to explore the range of expertise and research and teaching strengths across the School.

Entry Requirements and Eligibility

A first class honours degree (or equivalent) in a subject relevant to the studentship OR a taught MSc degree at distinction level in a subject relevant to the studentship. Conditional offers can be made to applicants currently enrolled on a degree programme on the basis of anticipated results.

As comprehensive research training is integrated in the programme of this PhD, there will be no automatic preference given to those holding MSc qualifications covering research training. Applications are encouraged from those nearing the end of an undergraduate degree in a subject relevant to the scholarship.

Due to constraints on part-time study for international students on visas, this award is only open to nationals of the UK, countries of the European Economic Area, or Switzerland.

Is this PhD for me?

The 6-year part-time programme of combined PhD study and development activity will require a high level of personal commitment and engagement, in addition to the potential to undertake cutting-edge research in the social and political sciences. While the skills gained during the programme will have wide applicability, the studentship is especially intended for those who envisage an academic career, and have a passion for advanced teaching and learning. The aim is to support scholarship holders not only towards the attainment of a PhD qualification, but to equip them by the end of their programme of study with the skills and knowledge required to be competitive in the 21st century academic labour market.

Fees and Funding

The scholarship covers full payment of PhD tuition fees and provides an annual stipend of £10,000 each year.

All PhD students in the School of Social and Political Science can apply to the PhD Research Support Fund for help with fieldwork and other research-related costs throughout their period of study.

Application Process and Deadline

The closing date for this scholarship is Monday 3rd February 2020 at 23:59 GMT.

Applicants must submit two separate applications by this deadline (further information about both is given below):

  • Alice Brown PhD Scholarship application
  • Application for admission to a PhD degree

Alice Brown PhD Scholarship application

Application to the Alice Brown Scholarship is via the University's on-line scholarships application form located within the EUCLID applicant hub. After submitting your application for your programme of study, you will receive a University Username (UUN) and access to MyEd where you can reach the scholarship application system. Instructions on the online awards/scholarship application system can be found here. If you require assistance, please go to

Please note the following:

  1. Once you have submitted your application for study (via the How to Apply page below) you can then submit your funding application(s), you must submit a separate application for each individual funding scheme you are applying to.
  2. Each funding application will ask you to provide a personal statement. In your scholarship application, please tailor your personal statement to this scholarship. This should include why you wish to study at this School, why part-time study appeals to you and how you plan to successfully maintain this, why you are a desirable candidate for this scholarship, and how you intend to contribute to the School’s strategic aims. For example, participating in digital skills development, contributing to widening participation enhancement, or other development activities.
  3. This form is also used for several other awards, including Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships, Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarships, College Research Award, Graduate School PhD Award, Macqueen Scholarship, and the Chrystal Macmillan Studentship. Important - please ensure you check each scholarship deadline as they may differ. You must enter a separate funding application for each award you wish to be considered for.
  4. You do not need to wait to receive an offer to study before applying for an Alice Brown PhD Scholarship - but you must submit a complete application to study by the deadline or your Alice Brown application will not be considered.
  5. The supporting documents submitted with your application to study (research proposal, academic transcripts and references etc.) will be used to assess your funding application.
  6. We cannot accept applications or additional information or supporting statements after the deadline.
  7. Note that applicants in receipt of conditional offers (including conditional on English language) are still eligible to apply for the Alice Brown PhD Scholarship.  Should they receive an award, but not meet the conditions of their offer, they would not be able to take up the award.

 Application for admission to a PhD research degree

You must submit a complete application for admission to a PhD research degree by the awards deadline.  Please note the following:

  1. The application to study is made via the University's on-line applications system EUCLID - you are encouraged to make this application two weeks prior to making your scholarship application but no later than 48 before the scholarship deadline to allow time for any technical difficulties.
  2. For further information on PhD study please see our PhD Programmes webpage.
  3. For further information on the application process, please see our How to Apply page.
  4. You must submit a full application by this deadline, including references, research proposal and all supporting documents. 
  5. References and research proposal for the application to study are also used for the awards application.


The School selection panel will meet in Spring 2020, and results will be communicated to candidates by email shortly thereafter.  Note that we also hold a reserve list; in the event that a successful candidate later declines their award (e.g. because they obtain different funding) the award will be offered to the top candidate on the reserve list. 

We are aiming to contact Alice Brown PhD Scholarship candidates to let them know the outcome of their application in early April. Due to the volume of applications we receive and the lengthy assessment and ranking process, we are unable to answer individual responses until then.

First Year SPS PhD Students

First year part-time PhD students already at the School of Social and Political Science may apply and funding would be provided to the completion of the 6-year part-time programme. Full-time first-year students may also apply if they convert to part-time study on award of the scholarship.

Application is via your MyEd account. The scholarship application section is found in the Applicant Hub. Details on how to find the scholarship section can be found here.

The default position is that we will look at the two references and your original research statement provided on your EUCLID application for PhD study.  However, we would recommend that current first year students request your supervisors, who can comment on your progress to date, to provide updated references.  We also strongly advise that you update your research proposal (3-4 pages).  These should be emailed (from your University account) to the Graduate School Office ( by the funding application deadline. Please name the scholarship you are applying for and provide your UUN in the email. An updated personal statement of up to 500 words should be submitted to the email address above. Please ensure you follow the personal statement guidance in the information above.

About Alice Brown

Professor Alice Brown CBE, FRSE, AcSS, FRCP Edin, FRSA, CIPFA (Hon) was the first female Vice-Principal of the University of Edinburgh and one of its first female professors.  In 2002 she was appointed as the first Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, and in 2013 became the first female to chair the Scottish Funding Council.

Alice Brown left school at 15, later gaining university entrance qualifications through part-time study at college. She went on to graduate from the University of Edinburgh with first class Honours in Economics and Politics, winning the D.P. Heatley Prize for excellence. She then combined work and family with PhD studies, gaining her doctorate in 1990. Alice Brown is a passionate advocate that Universities should produce “useful knowledge”, be open and inclusive, and engage with politics and society. She was one of the architects of Scottish devolution and has worked to improve standards in public life at Westminster, and to promote gender equality and widening participation in educational, political, and public life.

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