Funded PhD opportunities

Trade, Gender and Development: A Comparative Analysis into the impact of trade policies on Women in Selected Special Economic Zones (SEZ) of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and/or the South Asian Nation for Regional Cooperation (SARC).

  • Application end date: 22nd January 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (UK students only)
  • Department: School of Languages and Area Studies
  • PhD Supervisor: Professor Leila Choukroune, Dr Tamsin Bradley, Professor Pal Ahluwalia


ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP) funded. Project code: MLAS4300118

Project in brief 

Women and girls are involved in trade all over the world. Yet, some 70% of those living in extreme poverty are women and new trade measures could have an adverse effect on women particularly when they are exposed to less protective regulations as those often found in the trade friendly special economic zones. Trade and gender equality is key to achieve the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But the need for detailed research on the reality of trade for women is obvious as data are lacking to formulate adequate trade policies. In studying the precise impact of trade policies (national and international) on women and girls in a selected number of SEZ in the COMESA and SARC region from a social science perspective, your PhD research will address fundamental conceptual issues and contribute to trade policy.

Specific Research Questions

From an interdisciplinary sociological perspective, the study aims at evaluating the precise impact of trade policies (national and international) on women and girls in a selected number of SEZ in the COMESA and SARC region (as stated case studies will be realistically selected in line with a PhD project). It is multidisciplinary and comparative. It addresses fundamental conceptual issues and could, at the same time, directly impact trade policies nationally and internationally. - Is trade policy supporting the empowerment of women and girls and promoting equality? - How can we assess the distinct effect of trade policy on women and girls in complex SEZ environment? - What are the legal and political barriers and other social constraints impeding women and girls from better benefiting from trade in SEZ? - Is the trade policy agenda a source of additional vulnerability rather than strength for women and girls in SEZ? - How to formulate a gender equal trade agenda nationally and internationally? - What are the implications for trade policy theory and analysis from a social sciences perspective integrating law and social theory?

Supervisor profiles

Professor Leila Choukroune - Professor Leila Choukroune Profile

Dr Tamsin Bradley – Dr Tamsin Bradley Profile

Professor Pal Ahluwalia - Professor Pal Ahluwalia Profile

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0. 

For all funding, students must have qualifications of the standard of a good honours degree at first or upper second-class level, from a UK academic higher education institution. Degree qualifications gained from outside the UK, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience that is equivalent to a relevant UK degree, may be accepted.

Before you apply, please make sure you meet the candidate specification.

Candidates do not need to submit a project proposal, however are required to submit a 500 word personal statement to include: 

  • Details of how your skills and interests match the project
  • Background and previous experience
  • Research interests

If you need to discuss this project and your application further then please contact a member of the supervision team as listed below, in advance of the deadline dates:

Dr Tamsin Bradley –

Professor Leila Choukroune -

Professor Pal Ahluwalia -

There are two stages to the application process 

(1) The first application form you need to complete is for your chosen programme of study at the University of Portsmouth. 

Apply to the University of Portsmouth through our standard online application form and follow the instructions given under the ’Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages before you submit your SCDTP application: 

When applying to the University of Portsmouth, you will need to enter project code - MLAS4300118

The closing date for University of Portsmouth applications is 22 January 2018, 11.59 pm. 

(2) The second application form which requires completion is the South Coast DTP Funding Application Form. There are two versions of this form which can be downloaded. In accordance with the SCDTP guidance, please ensure you use the correct form (in this case the ’South Coast DTP Project Specific Application Form’). 

The ’South Coast DTP Project Specific Application Form’, and more information on the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership can be found at: 

You will then need to submit your funding application to the SCDTP by 31 January 2018, 11.59 pm. 

For more detailed information about the project, please see the university webpage: 


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Professor Leila Choukroune at or 023 9284 4840, Dr Tamsin Bradley at or 023 9284 6143, or Professor Pal Ahluwalia at or 023 9284 4472.

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at  You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

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