Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentships

Lancaster University forms part of the ESRC's North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP). Each year at least 65 studentships, covering tuition and maintenance, are available for those wishing to study in areas covered by the ESRC at Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, or Keele. 

This competition is now closed for 2018-19 entry.

The deadline for applications to be submitted is 5.00 on Monday 5 February 2018.

Applicants must be planning to study in one of the following ESRC-approved pathways (relevant FASS programmes in brackets):

  • Criminology, Social Policy and Social Work (MA Social Research, MRes Child Welfare, MA Advanced Social Work, PhD Criminology)
  • Development and Humanitarianism in an Unequal World (PhD Environment and Society)
  • Economic and Social History (MA History, PhD History)
  • Educational Research (PhD Educational Research)
  • Language Based Area Studies (MA Languages and Cultures, PhD European Languages and Cultures)
  • Linguistics (MA Discourse Studies, MA English Language and Literary Studies, MA Language and Linguistics, PhD Linguistics; PhD Applied Linguistics by Thesis and Coursework)
  • Politics (MA Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, MA Diplomacy and Religion, MA International Politics, MA Politics, Philosophy and Religion, MA Politics and Philosophy, MRes International Relations, MSc Politics, Philosophy and Management, PhD International Relations)
  • Social Anthropology (PhD Sociology)
  • Social Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine (MA Social Research, PhD Sociology, PhD Science Studies)
  • Socio-legal Studies (MA Social Research, MA International Relations, PhD Law)
  • Sociology (MA Social Research, PhD Sociology)

Students will normally have been offered a place at one of the four NWSSDTP institutions prior to their studentship application, on one of the programmes eligible for NWSSDTP funding.  However, studentship applications will be accepted from students who have submitted their institutional application but have yet to receive a formal offer, providing that such an offer has been made by the time of the Studentship Allocation meeting, which will take place on 14 March 2018.  Please indicate in your programme application that you are applying for ESRC funding.  If you have already submitted your programme application, please contact us at

Further information about the NWSSDTP and the studentships on offer is available via the NWSSDTP website, as are the application form and guidance notes.  Please check that you meet the academic and residential eligibility criteria on page 2 of the guidance notes before applying. Applications should be made on the NWSSDTP application form and should be sent, together with a completed equal opportunities form, to

Further information about the provision and funding offered by the NWSSDTP is available on the NWSSTDP website. If you have any queries about your application please contact the NWSSDTP Administrator, Hayley Meloy:

The deadline for applications for 2017-18 is 5.00 pm GMT on 5 February 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I eligible to apply for an ESRC studentship?

Eligibility criteria can be found on page 2 of the relevant Studentship Guidance:

I am an overseas applicant; can I apply for an ESRC studentship?

Candidates for awards must have a relevant connection with the United Kingdom. A relevant connection may be established if, at the start of the course:

  • The student has been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the 3-year period preceding the date of application for an award, and
  • Has not been resident in the UK, during any part of that 3-year period wholly or mainly for the purposes of full-time education and
  • Has settled status in the UK within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 (i.e. is not subject to any restriction on the period for which he/she may stay).

When is the deadline to submit my ESRC studentship application?

5.00pm GMT on 5 February 2018.

Do I need to have an offer on the place of the programme to be able to apply for the ESRC funding?

Students will normally be expected to have been offered a place to study at Lancaster University prior to submitting their Studentship Application, on one of the programmes eligible for NWSSDTP funding (please see the NWSSDTP website for a list of eligible programmes for each pathway). However, Studentship Applications will be accepted from students who have submitted their programme application but have yet to receive a formal offer, providing that such an offer has been made by the time of the Studentship Allocation meeting, which will take place on 14 March 2018. In no case will a Studentship be officially awarded until the student has secured a conditional or unconditional place at the institution.

We encourage you to submit your programme application as soon as possible.

Where can I find the application form to apply for an ESRC scholarship?

If I am applying for 1+3 funding do I need to apply for both the Masters and PhD programmes?

Yes. Please complete as much of the PhD application as possible (including a research proposal) and send an email to to inform us of your intention to apply for 1+3 funding. We will then assist you in completing your application fully.

Who do I submit my ESRC application form to?

Send your completed ESRC application form to Sarah Purcell at putting your name and ‘ESRC Application’ in the subject of your e-mail. You will receive a confirmation e-mail once your application has been received. Once we have processed your application we will contact you if we require any further information from you.

Do I need to submit references with my ESRC application form?

Yes. The NWSSDTP application must be supported by two testimonials from people able to comment on the academic ability and research potential of the candidate, e.g. previous undergraduate/postgraduate study.

It is strongly recommended that the applicant’s undergraduate/postgraduate tutors complete the testimonials where possible. However, the NWSSDTP accepts that University staff expected to be involved with the candidate’s subsequent studies (e.g. potential supervisors) can sometimes be appropriate if they have tutored the applicant previously. It is also accepted that some students may have undertaken some relevant professional work where the testimonial writer would be able to comment on their suitability for undertaking research. If this is the case then the circumstances should be fully explained. Please view Appendix 2 of the Studentship Guidance and pass them to your referees for guidance.

Can I use the references from my programme application or do the references need to be specific for my funding application?

It is strongly recommended that you submit 2 references that have been written specifically in support of your funding application. Details can be found in the Studentship Application Guidance (Appendix 2).

Please note that all references need to be signed on official letterhead and that you will need to provide the 2 references along with your funding application, otherwise it will not be accepted.

What other documents do I need to submit along with my completed ESRC application form?

You will need to provide 2 references, copies of your academic transcripts, and an equal opportunities form.

Should I make a note on my programme application that I intend to apply for ESRC funding?

Please note ‘ESRC Funding’ in the Source of Funding section of your programme application.  If you have already submitted your programme application, please contact us at

Can I accept the offer of a place on the programme if I do not yet know the outcome of the ESRC application?

Yes. If we offer you a place on one of our programmes you are welcome to accept our offer before receiving the outcome of your ESRC application.

Where can I find the application number required on the first page of the ESRC application form?

This refers to your eight digit programme application number (starting with the number 3)

If you are a current PhD student at Lancaster University applying for a +2 award please provide your student ID number.

I have not yet received an offer on the PhD programme I have applied for; what should I write under the supervisors section in the form?

If you have been in contact with potential supervisors please include their names in this section of the form. Otherwise, please leave this section blank as it can be completed once supervisors have been selected.

Is there anyone who I can contact for help in completing the ESRC application form?

Please contact your Pathway Representative in the first instance:

PathwayPathway RepresentativeEmail Address
Criminology, Social Policy and Social Work Jasmine Fledderjohann
Development and Humanitarianism in an Unequal World John Childs
Economic and Social History Naomi Tadmor
Educational Research Kirsty Finn
Language Based Area Studies Charlotte Baker
Linguistics Julia Gillen
Politics Christopher May
Social Anthropology Imogen Tyler
Social Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine Elizabeth Shove
Socio-legal Studies
Gary Potter
Sociology Imogen Tyler


Who can I contact if I have a question that is not answered above?

Please contact