Project code



School of Area Studies History Politics and Literature

Start dates

October 2020

Closing date

23 January 2020

This project is now closed. The details below are for information purposes only. View our current projects here.

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

The studentship is available to UK students only and covers tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £15,009 (2019/20 rate).

The supervisors are Dr Jodi Burkett (School of Area Studies), Dr James Dennis (School of Film, Media and Communications) and Dr Mihaela Cocea (School of Computing).  

This PhD presents a unique opportunity to the successful candidate to be part of the SCDTP cohort as well as the University’s School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature.


This project addresses three main research questions:

  • How can we use digitised historical student newspapers, to create an open source dataset of student voices that can be analysed using big data techniques?
  • What can an analysis of the student press tell us about the political views and activity of students across the second half of the twentieth century? Were they regionally or
    institutionally specific?
  • How does the inclusion of students' voices change our historical understanding of student politics and student activism?

This project explores the changing nature of student political engagement and activism across the second half of the twentieth century. Using digitised historic student newspapers it applies big data and digital humanities techniques to key historical and political problems. It uses the voices of students themselves to explore changes in student political engagement and activism across fifty years of radical and significant change in Higher Education in Britain, and growth in student numbers and diversity

Entry requirements

All candidates must be a UK resident and hold a good honours degree (2:1 and above) from a recognised higher education institution. Please note, students applying without a Master's qualification containing a substantial Social Sciences methods component may be required to complete such a Master's beforehand. The Master's will be fully funded by the SCDTP and will be run from the University of Southampton.

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


As well as analytical and research skills, the student would need a working knowledge of some basic techniques associated with digital humanities (for example OCR, Python, Regular Expressions), quantitative and qualitative methods. 

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 project supervisors before you submit an application. 

The project will require you to discuss possible methods and research design as well as detailing how your skills, background and research interests match the project.  It is therefore very important that you discuss the project with the supervisor.  

Full instructions are given on the SCDTP application form and there are different word limits depending on whether you are applying for a 1+3 (ie Masters in Social Research Methods plus PhD) or +3 (PhD only).  

Please note: you will need to submit an online application to the University of Portsmouth plus an application for funding to the SCDTP. For more details, visit the SCDTP website

When applying to the University, please quote project code: SASH4990120