School of Social and Political Science

Macqueen Scholarship



We are currently reviewing scholarship availability for 2024/25 and will update our scholarship webpages in December 2023.

Become a voice for the voiceless with this scholarship, which supports postgraduate social work research on one-parent families. The scholarship is funded by a generous donation from The Julie-Ann Macqueen Trust.

Applicants must submit two separate applications by the deadline:

  • Application for admission to the PhD in Social Work degree in the School of Social and Political Science (must be submitted at least 10 working days before the scholarship deadline)
  • Macqueen PhD Scholarship application

Updated or additional documents or information for your PhD programme application cannot be accepted after you have received an offer for the programme. Before then, any updated or additional documents must be uploaded directly to your PhD application via your MyEd account.

Updated or additional documents or information for your scholarship application cannot be accepted after you have submitted your scholarship application. Before then, any updated or additional documents must be uploaded directly to your PhD application via your MyEd account. Your documents are pulled through to the scholarship system from there.

Late applications cannot be accepted.

Macqueen Scholarship application process

Ensure you visit the Important Information and Recommendations section before you apply. We consider this section to be essential reading.

The scholarship award application process involves two main applications:

  1. Apply for PhD in Social Work degree
  2. Apply for your Macqueen PhD Scholarship

Applying for the PhD Social Work

You will only be able to apply for a scholarship after you have submitted an application to study for the PhD in Social Work programme. 

You must submit a complete application for admission to the PhD in Social Work research degree by the awards deadline. For further information on the application process, please see our how to apply page.

The application to study is made via the University's online applications system EUCLID. The application to study must be submitted at least 10 working days prior to the scholarship application deadline. This allows your University Username (UUN eg s1234567) to be activated in time for you to submit your scholarship application before its deadline.

You must submit a full application by the deadline, including:

  • research proposal
  • final or interim official undergraduate and postgraduate transcripts
  • references
  • name of proposed supervisor
  • CV

These documents will be automatically pulled through to the scholarship system.

You do not need to wait to receive an offer to study before applying for the Macqueen PhD Scholarship - but you must submit a complete application to study by the deadline or your scholarship application will not be considered.

Once you have submitted your application for study on the PhD Social Work programme, you can then submit your funding application. Note that if you are also applying for other scholarships, you must submit a separate application for each individual funding scheme you are applying to.

For further information on PhD study please see our PhD Programmes webpage.

For further information on the application process, please see our how to apply page.

Applying for the Macqueen PhD Scholarship

Once you have submitted your application for study, you can then submit your Macqueen PhD Scholarship funding application.

Application to the Macqueen PhD Scholarship is via the University's online scholarships application form located within the EUCLID applicant hub.

After submitting your application for the PhD Social Work programme, 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 on the Student Systems webpage.

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 scholarships are extremely competitive.

Supporting documents (upload these to your PhD programme application)

The supporting documents submitted with your application to study (research proposal/s, academic transcripts, CV, and references etc.) will be used to assess your funding application. Please also note that all material will be reviewed and assessed digitally.

Research proposal/s

We recommend you follow the guidance on writing research proposals. You may apply for both Option 1 (Meinck) and Option 2 (Kirkwood) projects and you must upload a separate research proposal for each, indicating in the proposal which option is your preference. These research proposals should be up to 1,000 words with the heading, 'Macqueen Scholarship Application' and must outline how you would pursue the chosen option as a doctoral student. You must note the project option and supervisor it relates to on your proposal.

Personal statement

The scholarship application system will ask you to provide a personal statement (up to 500 words/3500 characters including spaces).

In your scholarship application, please tailor your personal statement to include why you wish to study at this School and why you are a desirable candidate for this particular scholarship. We are interested in you as a whole person, not just academically. Please also tell us about your preparedness to undertake and complete a PhD and to flourish as a result of PhD funding, and how you will contribute to a positive and diverse PhD community within the School. This could include diversity of identity, experience, or viewpoint. You may also wish to include any experience of overcoming adversity.

Conditional offers

If you are in receipt of conditional offer (including conditional on English language), you are still eligible to apply for the Macqueen PhD Scholarship. 

Should you receive an award, but not meet the conditions of your offer, they would not be able to take up the award.

Help and guidance

Information on the Student Systems website may help you with guidance on the scholarship application system.

Applying for a postgraduate scholarship

Technical support and guidance

You can also view our applying for scholarships frequently asked questions: 

Frequently asked questions - applying for scholarships in the MyEd portal

If you have application queries not answered in the above guidance, please contact

For project-specific queries, please contact the lead supervisors.

Option 1 - Dr Franziska Meinck. Single parent families: experiences of fathers and grandparents in South Africa


Dr Franziska Meinck, University of Edinburgh

Dr Hannabeth Franchino-Olsen, University of Edinburgh

Assoc. Prof. Nicola Christofides, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Dr Nataly Woollett, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg



Globally, up to a quarter of all children grow up in single-parent families, where the parent lives alone with the child or children without a partner. There is an increasing evidence-base showing that children growing up in single-parent families have consistently worse outcomes across the life course. In particular growing-up in a single parent family is associated with increased risk for poor mental health (Weitoft et al., 2003), aggression (Kroese et al., 2021), and poorer educational attainment (De Lange et al., 2014), when compared to growing-up in a two-parent family. Single-parent families report consistently higher levels of poverty and parenting stress (OECD, 2022) than two-parent families.

In South Africa, 42% of children live with only their mothers, 4% only with their fathers and 21% live without their biological parent and most commonly stay with a grandmother (2020). South Africa is therefore experiencing very high rates of single-parent families compared to e.g., Britain where only 15% of children are in single-parent households (Office for National Statistics, 2021). The limited research available from South Africa on single-parent families highlights a higher risk for teenage pregnancy, neonatal mortality (Ramaiya et al., 2014), sexual risk behaviours, suicidality in girls and hypermasculinity in the form of aggression and violence in boys (Morrell, 2006).

However, thus far research has investigated factors associated with living in single-mother headed homes and little is known about single fathers and grandparents who act as primary caregivers for children, or about intergenerational patterns of single-parenthood.


This PhD project therefore has three aims: 1) to describe single parenthood in both fathers and grandparents in South Africa; 2) to investigate factors associated with single parenting among fathers and among grandparents on all levels of the socio-ecological model; and 3) to examine intergenerational patterns of single parenthood and their underlying mechanisms.


The PhD project will use a quantitative design using descriptive statistics and regression modelling thus making it suitable for a student with limited experience of quantitative methods. It could be turned into a sequential explanatory mixed methods study design where patterns in the quantitative data will be explained through interrogations of qualitative data (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2018), but this component is not currently funded.

The quantitative data will stem from the INTERRUPT_VIOLENCE Study, a three generational longitudinal study on intergenerational violence transmission in South Africa, of which Dr Meinck is the PI. INTERRUPT_VIOLENCE will have three waves of data from 1650 participants interviewed in 2010/11 (mean age 13.5 years old), 2011/2012 (mean age 14.5 years old) and 2022/2023 (mean age 26 years old) and include data on the original participant’s primary caregiver (aged 45-90) and child (aged 6-17). Data collection will be completed by December 2023 and as such the student will have a readily available dataset for analyses.

There is an option for the PhD student to collect qualitative data in South Africa in the fieldwork sites adjacent to the INTERRUPT_VIOLENCE Study with both adults and children. The annual research support grant could be used to fund this. If the qualitative data collection took place, the student will be based at the University of the Witwatersrand Rural Campus and will be well supported by the study team in field. Some experience conducting in-depth qualitative interviews and data analysis is a requirement.


The project will provide rich and reliable information on the factors associated with single-fatherhood and -grandparenthood in South Africa and will improve our understanding of mechanisms associated with intergenerational transmission of single-parenthood.


Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2018). Designing and conducting mixed methods research.

De Lange, M., Dronkers, J., & Wolbers, M. (2014). Single-parent family forms and children’s educational performance in a comparative perspective: Effects of school’s share of single-parent families. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(3), 329–350.

Duriancik, D. M., & Goff, C. R. (2019). Children of single-parent households are at a higher risk of obesity: A systematic review. Journal of Child Health Care, 23(3), 358–369.

Kroese, J., Bernasco, W., Liefbroer, A. C., & Rouwendal, J. (2021). Growing up in single-parent families and the criminal involvement of adolescents: A systematic review. Psychology, Crime & Law, 27(1), 61–75.

Morrell, R. (2006). Fathers, fatherhood and masculinity in South Africa. In BABA: Men and Fatherhood in South Africa (p. 13). HSRC Press.

OECD. (2022). Evolving Family Models in Spain: A New National Framework for Improved Support and Protection For Families. OECD Publishing.

Office for National Statistics. (2021, March 2). Families and households in the UK. Census 2021.…

Ramaiya, A., Kiss, L., Baraitser, P., Mbaruku, G., & Hildon, Z. (2014). A systematic review of risk factors for neonatal mortality in Adolescent Mother’s in Sub Saharan Africa. BMC Research Notes, 7(1), 750.

Statistics South Africa. (2020). General Household Survey South Africa 2019. Statistics South Africa.

Weitoft, G. R., Hjern, A., Haglund, B., & Rosén, M. (2003). Mortality, severe morbidity, and injury in children living with single parents in Sweden: A population-based study. Lancet (London, England), 361(9354), 289–295.

Option 2 - Dr Steve Kirkwood. Forced migration and sole parenting


Dr Steve Kirkwood, University of Edinburgh

Dr Georgia Cole, University of Edinburgh

Background: The situations that force people to flee their homes often radically change family structures. People may be separated from their partners, children, or other relations. Tragically, family members are often killed by war, conflict or persecution. One consequence is that many people who are forcibly displaced end up being sole parents. How does this impact on family practices, well-being, relationships, interconnectedness and integration?

Aim: The aim of this PhD project is to generate a better understanding of how the experience of forced migration produces and impacts on sole parenting. The research questions include:

  • What types of family structures and practices are produced by forced migration among sole parents?
  • How does forced migration impact on the relationship between children and their sole parents and other family members?
  • What forms of integration are enabled or hindered for sole parents because of forced migration?

Becoming a refugee can result in people experiencing a range of harms, including the violence or trauma that occurs in contexts of war and persecution or during the process of travelling to a place of safety. Moreover, further harm can be experienced in a host country, such as through racism or abuse, poverty or destitution, or indeed from harsh asylum systems themselves. However, people may also have very positive experiences, such as gaining safety, making new connections, and other moments of joy. These experiences, and the structures and policies related to the asylum system, may intersect with parenting practices in complex ways.

The specific experiences of particular families are likely to vary due to several factors. Separation – and sometimes later reunification – of parents from children is likely to shape the way parenting is done or experienced, including parenting at a distance. Cultural norms and expectations around parenting and gender – of both home and host countries – will affect parenting, and could include feeling stigmatised as a sole parent, or differences in generational attitudes. However, being in a different cultural context may also open up possibilities for parenting and connectedness that may not have been available in someone’s country of origin. How these experiences link with well-being, integration and child development are worthy of exploration.

Methods: It is envisaged that this PhD would involve primarily qualitative methods to explore the experiences of forced migrants who are sole parents. This would likely focus on the context of Scotland or the wider United Kingdom, but other contexts could be considered. The research should be collaborative, meaning that forced migrants, or groups, communities or organisations that represent them, are involved in some way in the design and / or undertaking of the research. A variety of research methods could potentially be considered, such as interviews, focus groups, surveys, observational methods or online methods. Participatory, creative and / or artistic methods are particularly encouraged.

Conclusion: This research is intended to improve our understanding of the experiences and practices of forced migrants who are sole parents, and especially how ‘refugeehood’ and parenthood intersect. It is hoped that this will shed light on the topic, as well as give voice to those in this situation, ideally to inform policy and practice that would improve their experiences if desired.

Assessment process and results

Postgraduate Advisors and supporting Subject Area academics will undertake an initial screening assessment of all scholarship applications with the strongest applications put forward to the next stage.

At this stage, the Macqueen selection panel – consisting of academics in, or linked to the Social Work subject area at Edinburgh, will meet to assess the shortlisted candidates in Spring 2023. Results will be communicated to candidates by email shortly thereafter.

Awardees are given 7 calendar days to respond to the scholarship offer. If no response is received by the given date, the offer will be rescinded and awarded to the next reserve candidate.

Note that we also hold a reserve list in the event that a successful candidate later declines their award, for example because they obtain different funding. In this case, the award will be offered to the top candidate on the reserve list.

Please note that as part of the selection process an external representative will be reviewing your application.

We aim to contact Macqueen PhD Scholarship candidates to let them know the outcome of their application by the end of April 2023.

The Macqueen award value

The award covers:

  • Full tuition fees (UK, EU or Overseas level)
  • The stipend will be set to the UKRI level for 2023/24. For reference, the UKRI level for 2022/23 is currently £17,668 for full-time students, or the pro rata equivalent for part-time students.
  • a £750 annual research grant

The award is made for 3 years for full time students or 6 years pro-rata for part-time students.

This award has been made possible by a generous donation from The Julie-Ann Macqueen Trust. Ms Macqueen played a leading role in bringing the struggles of single-parent families to the attention of the public and policy and law-makers. 

The generous donation from The Julie-Ann Macqueen Trust will fund two Postgraduate Research Social Work scholarships for students whose research focuses on one-parent families.

Other funding opportunities

This funding form is also used for several other awards, including:

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

Student category