Funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

Start dates

October 2024

Application deadline

19 January 2024

Applications are invited for a fully-funded, campus-based, three-year PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Nikki Fairchild, Dr Éva Mikuska and Dr Sukh Hamilton

The successful applicant will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a £2,000 research allowance to cover conference/ training costs and consumables.

Costs for student visas and immigration health surcharges are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Being part of a vibrant education research community in which you will develop and advance knowledge in an under-researched area.
  • Supervised by a team of active researchers who bring a wealth of theoretical and methodological knowledge and experience of social justice approaches in ECEC.

  • Acquire advanced doctoral programme training and have the opportunity to share your research to academic and non-academic audiences.

  • The opportunity to teach on modules in the School of Education, Languages and Linguistics (up to 6 hours per week during term time) and attain Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).

There has been a wealth of research that highlights the importance of good Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and how critical this is to support young children’s development and self-regulation. It lays the foundations for long-lasting impacts on young children’s outcomes throughout schooling and adulthood. Despite the positive benefits highlighted in research and Government reports, longitudinal studies have indicated that children from Minoritised Ethnic communities generally have poorer long-term educational outcomes and life chances. 

A recent project, led by Dr Nikki Fairchild’s in 2021, highlighted there was a lack of UK research with Minoritised Ethnic young children and families in ECEC. Therefore, your PhD will advance and develop insights and a new understanding of this under-researched area. It will make a significant contribution to knowledge and practice nationally and provide a UK perspective that extends research that has been developed internationally. Adopting a critical qualitative research paradigm and using qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews with Minoritised Ethnic parents, semi-structured interviews with ECEC Practitioners, and non-participant observations in local ECEC provision, your research will: provide a deeper understanding of both Minoritised Ethnic families choices around their access to provision and address key factors that influence their decisions around selecting an ECEC setting. Additionally, it will provide insight into ECEC practitioners experiences of ensuring Minoritised Ethnic young children and their families are supported effectively. Portsmouth as a location is of particular importance as it is a Sanctuary City and is culturally and ethnically diverse. In addition, Portsmouth City Council are committed to supporting strategic enablers to overcome poor outcomes for young children and families. This means your PhD research has the potential to inform local policy and make a positive impact in Portsmouth. It will also contribute to the national and international research knowledge base.

Entry requirements

You'll need a first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. You’ll need English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Successful candidates will need to have an understanding of ECEC in England. This could include previous study and/or employment in the UK ECEC sector. Please provide details of this on your application/CV.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Nikki Fairchild  ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency (if required) and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. As this is a pre-defined project, you do not need to submit a research proposal at this stage.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SELL8870124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.