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ESRC Project Grant Award

The Award | Project Details | Eligibility | How to apply

The Award


PAIS is pleased to announce a competition for two PhD studentships funded through an ESRC Professorial Fellowship awarded to Matthew Watson. The Fellowship project is called ‘Rethinking the Market’ and the two PhD students will work alongside Professor Watson and under his supervision to explore a variety of meanings which have been ascribed to the concept of ‘market’. The project combines history of ideas and historiographical approaches and applicants can choose any combination of these approaches to study appeals to the concept of ‘market’ in any of a number of different fields. This might relate, amongst other things, to the way in which the language of markets has come to be deployed academically or politically, or to the way in which changing market practices have been captured in films or popular written fiction. Applicants are invited to be as creative as they want to be when putting their proposal together.

The studentships will provide tuition fees and a maintenance grant but are subject to strict eligibility guidelines. In line with standard ESRC rules, only EU citizens are allowed to apply and only UK citizens will be able to receive the maintenance grant as well as the tuition fee payment. The Department of Politics and International Studies does not have latitude to depart from these rules. Details about the maintenance grant amounts and eligibility can be found on the ESRC website. In addition to this funding, there will be training available through Warwick's ESRC Doctoral Training Centreat the Faculty and Departmental level. This training will be tailored to the individual award holders’ research areas in accordance with a compulsory training needs assessment performed at the beginning of the PhD programme. To qualify for the continued payment of ESRC funding the award holders will have to prove that they are following successfully a designated pathway through the Doctoral Training Centre.

Project Details

The successful applicants will need to demonstrate how their proposed PhD thesis fits the broad objectives of Professor Watson’s Fellowship project. All relevant details about its intellectual content can be found on the project’s website. The overall aim will be to challenge a number of orthodoxies that have developed around the use of the market concept, as well as to show where in either the academic literature or popular culture such challenges are already apparent.

Any market apparatus might act to provide the substantive focus of the PhD project: for instance, markets in goods, finance, people or natural resources; markets that are activated virtually or through face-to-face interactions; markets that have long histories or markets that are relatively recent phenomena; markets that came and went very quickly or markets that have been more persistent; markets understood in concrete terms or markets understood ideologically; markets as they appear in academic writings or markets experienced in everyday life. Any recognised social scientific theory and methodology can be used to create the explanatory framework. No prejudgements will be made about a preferred topic, so that the awards can be made on merit and therefore in line with the University of Warwick’s equality policy.

The completed PhDs will make a valuable stand-alone contribution to the academic literature by providing an in-depth and consciously politicised reading of the successful applicants’ chosen example of how the market concept has been articulated. To what ends has that articulation been oriented, and with what practical effects? As the awards will be held within the Department of Politics and International Studies, this is likely to favour people with a background in this particular subject field, although that does not necessarily have to be the case.


Under ESRC rules, the competition is open only to Home/EU candidates. Full details on eligibility are available from the ESRC and should be consulted before applying, because we have no latitude to depart from those rules. The competition for such a prestigious award is likely to be demanding. As a consequence, the successful candidate will be expected, in addition to fulfilling the eligibility and standard PAIS PhD entry criteria, to have a good first degree (equivalent to a high 2.1 or 1st class BA/BSc Honours). A strong Master's degree in a relevant field of study will also be to the applicant's advantage.

How to apply

Applications will be welcomed from students who are: (i) currently in their first year of PhD study at Warwick; (ii) in receipt of an offer of a place on our programme; (iii) awaiting the result of their PAIS PhD application; or (iv) at this stage yet to make an application for a place on our programme. However, formal confirmation of the award cannot be made until a place has been secured on the PAIS PhD programme. If the preferred applicants are not in this position they will be given time at the conclusion of the competition to make an application for a programme place. All applicants, irrespective of their current status, must submit the following no later than Monday January 13th 2014:

  • A scholarship application form. Please note that this is a bespoke form specifically for this studentship. Even if you have already submitted a PAIS scholarship application, a DTC application or a University of Warwick Chancellor’s scholarship application this year, you must fill out a new form to apply for Professor Watson’s studentships.
  • A 2,000 word case for support, to be included within the application form. Failure to provide this document will result in disqualification from the competition. The case for support should include the following points:
    • An outline of your research proposal, to include an account of its substantive content, its underlying theoretical perspective, its potential for contributing to the existing literature and its significance for the ongoing development of relevant academic debates.
    • How your proposed PhD relates to previous and current research on the subject and, most importantly, how it both complements and adds value to the core of Professor Watson’s Fellowship project to which it will be linked.
    • Why, briefly, you believe that your previous academic experience makes you well placed to undertake the proposed PhD successfully.
  • Two scholarship references, which should comment specifically on your academic record and research potential. Your referees should email the references directly to Kay Edsall as indicated below.
  • Your academic transcripts.
  • Your current CV.

All of the above documents should be submitted to Kay Edsall at no later than Monday January 13th 2014.

Questions regarding this award should be directed in the first instance to Matthew Watson if they relate to the content of the ESRC project or Melissa Venables if they relate to the application process.