PhD Scholarship: Family Justice

We are excited to offer a PhD scholarship within the area of Family Justice that includes all tuition fees and a contribution of £15,000 towards maintenance costs. You will be joining a community of world-class academics who are passionate about their work and carry out cutting edge research. Applications are welcome from UK, EU and overseas students.

Funding application deadline: 5pm on Friday 1st March 2019

Applicants wishing to be considered for this award should complete the Faculty Scholarship application form and send it to Emma Taylor, the Sociology Postgraduate Coordinator by 17.00 on Friday 1st March 2019. Please contact Professor Karen Broadhurst to discuss your interest in this fully funded PhD.

All applicants must hold an offer of a place to study in the Sociology Department in order to be considered for funding, and be due to commence their studies during the 2019-20 academic year.

Details of the Project

Located in the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research within the highly regarded Department of Sociology at Lancaster University, this project offers the right candidate an exceptional learning opportunity. The project will be linked to the work the Centre is currently undertaking to establish the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory for England and Wales. In addition, our collaborating partner is the leading national practice organisation: the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

You will join a growing cohort of doctoral students within the Centre and, given the collaborative nature of the project, will have considerable opportunity to engage with high profile policy and practice agencies. The project would suit applicants who have a background in law, policy, social work or social science.

The focus of the project will be on the family court modernisation agenda in England, in particular, it will address pressing national questions about the challenges and implications of completing public law children’s cases within far shorter performance timescales, and whether shorter is always better in terms of children’s outcomes. A number of high profile appeal court cases have brought tensions between performance and professional discretion sharply into view, alongside critical questions of how the family courts ensure timely decisions about children’s futures. Cases in which parents lack litigation capacity; cases of large sibling groups and those that concern transnational family networks all pose particular challenges for frontline social workers, lawyers and judges regarding timeliness. Frontline practitioners, now operating under increasing pressure due to the volume of cases coming before the courts, must carefully balance competing tensions between human rights and performance whilst ensuring children who cannot return to birth parents find the security they need through adoption or other out of home placement. These pressures are not particular to the UK given similar timescales for permanency decision-making, which ensures the project’s international relevance.

This qualitative project will combines case review with ethnographic observation.  The research will build on and be further informed by case analysis currently being undertaken by Cafcass and work that the Centre will be doing to produce a quantitative picture of “long-running cases” in England and Wales.

Download the application form:

Faculty Scholarship Application Form 2019-20

Please indicate clearly on the form that you wish to be considered for the Family Justice Scholarship.


All full-time and part-time students with an offer of a place of study


5:00pm on Friday 1st March 2019


Please read the terms & conditions before applying:

Faculty Research Scholarship 2019 Terms and Conditions