Data Science, Health & Wellbeing: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership / Health and Care Research Wales Funded PhD Studentship: Estimating the Social Care Needs of Looked After Children

Closing date: 1 February 2018

Key Information

Data Science, Health and Wellbeing: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership / Health and Care Research Wales Funded PhD Studentship: Estimating the social care needs of looked after children and those at risk of being in care: Utilising anonymised linked data (Escalate)

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Swansea University, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2018. The following collaborative studentship is available in the Data Science, Health & Wellbeing pathway of the Wales DTP:

 In collaboration with Health and Care Research Wales: ‘Estimating the social care needs of looked after children and those at risk of being in care: Utilising anonymised linked data (Escalate)’ (working title)

 Project description:

Looked after children (LAC) have poorer social and health outcomes compared to those not in care.  They underperform in educational assessments, are more likely to be unemployed, have higher rates of teenage pregnancies, illicit drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and other mental health problems. The number of LAC continues to increase, as does the burden and costs placed on social and health care systems.  Providing more targeted care whilst in the care system and designing appropriate care packages for leaving care have the potential to improve the long term social and health outcomes of LAC.  The aim of this project is to increase knowledge and understanding of the needs of LAC and those at risk of being in care by exploring electronic anonymised data.

  The key research questions are:

  •  Does being looked after result in poorer health, educational and social care outcomes?
  •  Can we determine when LAC may be most at risk?

 We will use mixed methods (qualitative interviews and anonymised linked data) to provide a picture of the needs of LAC and when these needs occur.  We will initially work with policy, social care and NHS partners to identify what are regarded as poor outcomes in LAC and the potential risk factors for being ‘looked after’.  We will then use the Welsh Electronic Cohort for Children (WECC) to examine social, health and educational outcomes of LAC and compare these to those matched controls who are not looked after and to try and identify periods of significant need.  These outcomes will include: formal educational assessments; school absenteeism; Special Educational Needs status; frequency of school and residential moves; health outcomes (inpatient admissions, avoidable hospital admissions, length of inpatient stays); drug and substance misuse; mental health problems (self-harm, suicide, attempted suicide, anxiety, depression); teenage pregnancy rates; and contraceptive use.

It is envisaged that by identifying periods of risk and risk factors may make it possible to better target care, inform the design of appropriate care packages and identify key social priority areas.

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study, and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Masters followed by three years of full-time doctoral study, or the part-time equivalent), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant. Swansea University values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.

Research is at the core of Swansea University’s vision. We aim to foster research excellence across a broad range of subject areas, with internationally leading research staff informing all our teaching. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, showed that Swansea is now a top 30 research university, soaring up the leagues table to 26th in the UK from 52nd position in 2008.


These studentships are ‘collaborative’ awards. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and may wish to contact the named supervisor and / or the Swansea pathway contact for a discussion prior to applying. They are:

Supervisor: Professor Hayley Hutchings (

Pathway contact: Dr Sarah Rodgers


ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master's degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a ‘+3’ award. 

Residential eligibility:

Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. 

Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job, or a permanent part-time job, during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job.


Studentship awards commence in October 2018 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £14,553 per annum for 2017/18 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.

A ‘1+3’ studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), completing a research training Master's in the 1st year, followed by 3 years research funding for a PhD. A ‘+3’ studentship provides funding for the three years PhD research study only (or part-time equivalent). 

How to Apply

To apply, please complete and return the following documents to

  1.  Covering letter: Please address to Dr Sarah Rodgers. The covering letter must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Swansea University, and the chosen pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please specify whether you wish to apply on a ‘+3’ or ‘1+3’ basis. Remember also to specify that your application concerns ESRC Wales DTP collaborative studentships and include in your application the title of the project to which you are applying.
  2.  Academic / professional qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
  3.  References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves, and submit the references with their application.
  4.  Curriculum Vitae: It should be no longer than two pages.
  5.  Research Proposal: For collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
  • Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
  • An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
  • Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
  • A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);
  • Bibliographic references.

Please note that incomplete applications or applications received after the specified time will not be accepted. 

The deadline for applications is 4pm on 1 February 2018.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview; interviews are expected to take place in March 2018. After interview, a final shortlist of applicants will be put forward to a Panel convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. In most cases, successful applicants can expect to hear by mid-April 2018. 

Informal enquiries about these studentships are welcome, and should be directed to Dr Sarah Rodgers (