Funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



School of Health and Care Professions

Start dates

October 2023

Application deadline

23 January 2023

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD studentship to commence in October 2023.

The studentship is funded by the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), a collaboration between the universities of Portsmouth, Southampton and Brighton.

It covers University of Portsmouth tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £17,668 (2022/23 rate). The SCDTP is able to accept applications from UK and Overseas applicants to all of our accredited disciplines/pathways, however due to UKRI funding conditions, awards to non-UK residents are capped to a maximum of 30% of the total number of studentships awarded.  

The supervisors are Dr Annabel Tremlett and Professor Anita Franklin.

The work will look at:

  • What are the experiences of GRT families with social work home visits connected to safeguarding concerns and child protection.

  • How can appropriate/creative methodologies be ethically employed to sensitively access and attend to the experiences of GRT families with social workers, particularly considering the diversities in the umbrella term ‘GRT’ and how people understand ‘family’ or ‘community’.

  • Whose voices are accessed and how are they attended to in practice and research.

  • How can this research contribute to developing social work practice with GRT families and other under-represented groups.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (‘GRT’) families are shown to be disproportionately represented in child safeguarding cases, but little is known about the process. This raises concerns about how the voices of families are accessed and attended to in home visits, how they understand safeguarding processes, and their subsequent wellbeing. This PhD project provides the opportunity for in-depth, qualitative research to ensure that GRT families feel listened to and engaged with. The study will take a broad view of who is ‘Gypsy, Roma and Traveller’ so will seek participation from people who self-identify with any of these terms or related ethnonyms.

Entry requirements

You must have qualifications equivalent to a good honours degree (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.  Studentships are open to UK, EU and international students.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

You should have a background in a social science subject with an interest in social care related topics; some experience with working with people/families on sensitive topics; an appreciation of GRT communities in the UK, including their diversities and hybridities; an ability to communicate to a wide variety of stakeholders, from individuals from GRT heritages, to academic audiences and interest groups.

An understanding of the social care system in England, in particular safeguarding and child protection; experience of using creative means to engage with families and children, particularly on sensitive topics would be desirable.

How to apply

The first thing you will need is a university supervisor to support your SCDTP application – so you’ll need to contact the first supervisor, Dr Annabel Tremlett ( you submit an application. 

Please note: you’ll need to submit two applications, an online application to the University of Portsmouth and an application for funding to the SCDTP. For more details, visit the SCDTP website.

When applying to the University, please quote project code:SDTP7800123