School of Health in Social Science

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentships

The University of Edinburgh is a member institution of the Scotland-wide Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) which is funded and accredited by the Social and Economic Research Council (ESRC). The DTP provides world-class postgraduate research and training in the social sciences across a wide range of disciplines, known as ‘pathways’.

Health, Families, Relationships and Demographic Change Pathway

Families and relationships are part of the bedrock of social life, and research in this topic area is of relevance to almost all challenges in social science research. Similarly, promoting the health and wellbeing of populations is a clear priority nationally and globally. A 'Healthier Scotland' is one of The Scottish Government's strategic objectives and three of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals focus on health. This pathway brings together Scottish-wide networks including the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) and the recent development of the Scottish hub of the Centre for Population Change (CPC), as well as both established and emergent collaborations across social science disciplines, between the social and biomedical/clinical sciences and with policy and practice.

The pathway draws together strengths in qualitative and quantitative research, training and knowledge exchange in this topic area, supplementing existing recognised MSc provision offered by social science disciplines in the participating institutions.

Pathway representative - Jo Williams ( (School of Health in Social Science)

Psychology Pathway

Psychology is the study of human behaviour, essential to understanding individuals and societies. Scottish psychological research is internationally influential in advancing the understanding of behaviour and the application of that knowledge to important societal issues.

Psychology research is highly interdisciplinary, and researchers and students from the pathway participants already benefit from links with a wide range of disciplines across national and international institutions. A particular strength of the pathway participants is the Advanced Quantitative Methods training, which is applied to a wide range of social science issues addressing cross-disciplinary themes. All institutions have links with SINAPSE, the Scottish Imaging Network, promoting interdisciplinary research on the brain and behaviour, and three have access to their own imaging centres.

Modern psychology is strongly interdisciplinary in nature, and so tends to require specialised training in a wide range of research-topic specific methodologies.

Pathway representative - Patrick Sturt ( (School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences)

How to apply

The Student-led Open Competition for PhD study commencing in Autumn 2022 will open for applications in October 2021. An overview of the timeline and different stages of the application process together with the specific eligibility criteria for these studentships can be found here:

Student-led Open Competition 2022

Please note that students applying for the +3 programme (PhD only) must have previously met the ESRC core training requirements through a Masters programme. The 1+3 programme includes an integrated Masters programme which precedes the three year PhD and which delivers the majority of the core training requirements. For further guidance contact Prof Joanne Williams (

There is an initial two stage application process and both stages must be completed in order to be considered for ESRC funding.

Stage 1 - For the following School of Health in Social Science programmes, applicants interested in being considered for ESRC funding through the Student-led Open Competition must have must have applied online for admission by 22 November 2021.

PhD in Clinical Psychology, PhD in Counselling Studies, PhD in Health in Social Science, PhD in Nursing Studies

How to apply for a PhD programme at the School of Health in Social Science

Any queries about applying to a PhD programme at the School of Health in Social Science can be directed to

Stage 2 - Applicants must also make a funding application to SGSSS Apply before 5pm on Thursday, 9 December 2021. Any queries about registering or logging into SGSSS Apply can be directed to the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

Please make contact with the School and apply AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE if you wish to be considered for ESRC funding. 

Please note that the PhD in Psychology delivered by the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences (PPLS) has an earlier deadline for this funding (22 November 2021) and further information can be found on the PPLS website.