School of Social and Political Science

PhD Science and Technology Studies

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The deadline to apply for September 2023 entry is Friday 30 June 2023.

We warmly invite social scientists, historians, philosophers, natural scientists and engineers – to apply for a PhD in Science and Technology Studies (STS)

The University of Edinburgh has long been recognised as a centre of excellence that helped establish the young field of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. It is the home for the internationally renowned strong programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge – which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016 – and of a long-standing tradition of studies in the social shaping of technology, particularly information and communications technology.

Other areas of significant strength include research on life science innovation, particularly in the Innogen Institute; on Energy and Environmental Sustainability and on the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Studies subject group (STIS), together with Sociology, were rated as first in the UK for quality and breadth of research in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

STIS hosts the Innogen Institute and the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, which bring together scholars and specialist groups from across the University. 

Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at SPS

Access to perhaps the largest and most interdisciplinary array of academic expertise in science and technology studies in the world allows us to provide training and specialized supervision for research students across a wide range of research topics. Lists of ongoing research projects in the subject group and of our academic staff and their interests can be found on the STIS website:

Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at SPS

Our students

Our cohort of currently over 40 PhD students plays a key role in our dynamic research culture. Their research encompasses: 

  • digital music services
  • organ donation
  • climate change science
  • agricultural innovation
  • narco-submarines
  • fire safety engineering

Potential applicants may be interested in our list of:

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) scholarships

There are a number of ESRC-funded places for students pursuing either a PhD (three years of funding) or an MSc by Research and a PhD programme (four years of funding).

Read more about funding opportunities

Hear about PhD student Vassilis' experience

Programme overview

Usually undertaken full time over three years, or part time over six years, the PhD in Science and Technology Studies is a research degree in which students make an original contribution to our knowledge by pursuing an extended and focused piece of research on a topic of interest to them. 

Research training

PhD students will usually follow our MSc by Research in STS for their first year. This comprises specialist courses, as well as training in research methods. By the end of this year, you will have completed a full research proposal.

You will join the lively research community and participate in regular seminars and workshops, as well as our annual PhD retreat. Frequent seminars and lectures by visiting scholars also provide opportunities for contacts beyond the University.

    Supervisors and topics
    Requirements and contacting the Postgraduate Advisor

    Students planning to join our PhD programme will normally be required to first do the foundational MSc by Research in Science and Technology Studies. 

    Candidates with a solid background in Science and Technology Studies may be accepted directly into our PhD programme.

    Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the postgraduate admissions advisor (research) to discuss their eligibility, conditions of entrance and the availability of appropriate research supervision, using the email address on the right-hand side of the page.

    Please provide a CV and an informal one-to-three page written outline of your research interests to help us identify potential supervisors, who can then advise on developing the research proposal that must accompany your application. 

    This contact should be made well in advance of the University deadline, especially if you are applying for funding (programme applications do not come with funding and are independent from funding applications).

    Students who will need to apply for a visa to study in the UK should plan to apply at least three to four months prior to 1 September.


    Applying for this PhD

    1. Identify potential supervisors suited to your research interests
    2. Write a draft research proposal
    3. Contact the Postgraduate Advisor with your research proposal and list of potential supervisors
    4. Once discussed with the Postgraduate Advisor, formally submit your application on EUCLID

    Postgraduate Advisor

    Programme advisor: Dr. Pablo Schyfter