Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

PhD: Improving Understanding of the Experiences of Gypsy-Travellers in Scotland

Gypsies/Travellers have been in Scotland for many centuries and still retain their own cultures and customs. They have a long shared history with references to the presence of Gypsy Travellers in Scotland dating back to the 12th century. The term 'Gypsy/Traveller' refers to distinct groups - such as Romany Gypsies, Scottish and Irish Travellers - who regard the travelling lifestyle as being part of their ethnic identity.

Policy Context and Background

The Scottish Government believes that Gypsies/Travellers are a particularly discriminated against and marginalised group. In particular, access to health, education and social services can be difficult for them as well as issues around site provision and housing. However, the lack of a robust evidence base makes the development of policies and the monitoring of the effectiveness of these policies difficult.

At a basic level, the current population of Gypsies/Travellers in Scotland is unknown. The most recent Scottish Government estimate is 1,547 people, but this is acknowledged to be an underestimate as it only includes Gypsies/Travellers on Council or Registered Social Landlord sites and on encampments and excludes Gypsies/Travellers living in bricks and mortar housing. In particular, many people are afraid to identify themselves as a Gypsy/Traveller because of the extreme discrimination and prejudice they have experienced in the past.

PhD Aims

There are three main aims of the PhD:

  1. To review the current state of the evidence base and to identify those policy areas particularly lacking in evidence.
  2. To improve the evidence base in selected areas.
  3. To develop a strategy for the future development and improvement of the evidence base.

Suggested Methods and Approach

It is likely that the research will involve a mixture of quantitative and qualitative work, and applicants should note that an exclusively ethnographic approach to this topic would not meet evidence and policy review expectations in relation to this PhD.


Applications are invited for a 3-year full-time PhD studentship (there is no part-time funding available). The studentship will commence in Autumn 2012. You should have, or expect to gain, a Masters degree in a relevant social science discipline. Prospective applicants must satisfy the research training and eligibility requirements set out by the ESRC. The University year commences in September 2012.

Please apply with a CV, the names of two referees, and a statement of application which makes clear why you are interested in the studentship and what skills, attributes and understanding you are likely to bring to it. Applications must arrive by Friday 1 June at 5pm.

Applications should be sent to:

Dr Gillean McCluskey

  • University of Edinburgh
  • Moray House School of Education

Contact details



St John’s Land 4.12
Holyrood Road

Post Code


ESRC and Scottish Government

Project team

Start date September 2012
End date September 2015