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ESRC DTC Collaborative Studentship Sociology/National Marine Aquarium

ESRC DTC PhD Collaborative Studentship - University of Warwick, Sociology Department (in collaboration with National Marine Aquarium)

Doctoral Studentship in the Social Sciences

The ESRC Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Warwick is now inviting applications for an ESRC Doctoral Collaborative Studentship involving Warwick’s Department of Sociology in partnership with the National Marine Aquarium (in Plymouth), starting from October 2014. Applications are invited from Home and EU students for this studentship, which can cover both fees and maintenance. Non-UK students may only be eligible for the fees element of the studentship. Eligibility details are available here: (

Project Summary: This studentship is focused on a specific topic. The project seeks to evaluate the impacts of public engagement experiences in aquariums on visiting publics. Human behaviour and unsustainable consumption patterns are playing a significant role in escalating both climate change and biodiversity loss. The UK is committed to substantial reductions in greenhouse emissions by 2020. However, improved technologies and government intervention alone cannot fully overcome the problem of unsustainable Western lifestyles and behaviours. There is clearly a need for broad public involvement to turn the tide of unsustainable consumption patterns. Indeed, persuading and enabling UK citizens to change their behaviour in ways that are inconvenient, expensive or unfamiliar requires the full-scale engagement of citizens as well as social and cultural institutions to yield fundamental change. The scale of social change requires the maximisation of pro-conservation impacts by any institutions willing to contribute. Prior empirical research conducted by the supervisor indicates that UK zoos may have the potential to achieve such public engagement aims. Yet robust generalisable research is needed to understand whether this potential can realised in aquariums too. Such research needs to assess how this impact can be enhanced for the benefit of marine life and humanity alike. The proposed project would extend the leading edge of current social scientific knowledge by investigating the impacts of a key UK aquarium’s (National Marine Aquarium) public engagement activities on public conservation-related attitudes, ideas and behaviour.

The research will be supervised by Dr. Eric Jensen (Department of Sociology, University of Warwick) and Paul Cox, (Director of Conservation and Communication, National Marine Aquarium).

Collaboration: The PhD studentship is supported in part by the National Marine Aquarium, the UK's largest aquarium. The successful candidate will be based in one of two areas: Plymouth or the University of Warwick.

Option 1. You may be based primarily in Plymouth or the surrounding region, in which case you will spend the majority of your time working on site at the National Marine Aquarium within the Learning Department. You will then come to Warwick for research training and further modules as agreed between the Warwick academic supervisor and collaborating organisation supervisor. Regular academic supervision would be delivered through video teleconference when you are not at the Warwick campus.

Option 2. If, on the other hand, you choose to be primarily based at the University of Warwick (or surrounding region), you will spend time at the collaborating organisation in order to: become familiar with the relevant activities there, network and engage in regular discussions, provide updates to aquarium staff on the project’s progress, gain feedback and, most importantly, gather data. Time spent at the Aquarium would comprise approximately 3-6 months over the course of the PhD, depending on the details of the research that are ultimately established. However, data analysis and write-up in this scenario would occur primarily at the University of Warwick and at least every other joint supervision between the Warwick and aquarium co-supervisors and the student would take place through video teleconference, using Skype or a similar system to reduce travel costs.

Award available: 1 award available. (What is an ESRC Studentship worth)

Length of Award: 3-4 years.

Application Details: Candidates should have at minimum a 2.1 class undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (preferably sociology, education, cultural policy, museum studies) and ideally a relevant Master’s degree, or equivalent research experience in a work setting, as well as an interest in the impact of conservation programmes on publics and barriers to participation. The precise focus within this topic will be negotiated with the successful applicant. If you have any particular ideas already, please prepare these as a proposal in your application.

A course application must be made online with all required documents by 30 April 2014. The online application form can be accessed at: Please state clearly on the form that you are applying for this project and that Dr Eric Jensen is the requested supervisor.

For queries relating to the application procedure or the position, please email Eric Jensen at:

For applicants who already have applied for entrance to the Warwick’s Sociology Department, please email by 1 April 2014 at the latest to say you wish to be considered for this studentship.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed at a date to be announced.

Deadline for New Applicants: 4pm GMT - 30 April 2014
To apply for the Studentship you must complete the form: Online Application Form