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New funding to help train the next generation of social scientists

Published on: 7 November 2023

A training partnership has secured an investment of over £28m in funding to continue training the next generation of social scientists.


The Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership (NINE DTP) brings together Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland, Teesside, Queen’s Belfast and Ulster universities.

The funding includes £20m from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), together with £8.5 million in match funding from the partner universities.

As a result, over the next five years the NINE DTP, which was first established in 2017, will be able offer PhD places in 18 subject-specific training pathways and interdisciplinary areas across the full breadth of social science research.

The new funding will allow additional study opportunities in three new areas; criminology, policing and prisons; environment, climate and sustainability; and sport and society.

Newcastle University campus in the autumn, Arches

Important questions

Dr Lisa Garforth, NINE DTP Academic Lead at Newcastle University, said: “We’re delighted that Newcastle University will continue to play a key role in NINE DTP, which has supported more than one hundred PhDs here since 2017.

“NINE will help us to grow research relationships and impacts in our region and beyond, both across universities and with collaborating partner organisations.”

Each year, NINE DTP admits a cohort of around 55 PhD studentships across the seven partner universities.  

The partnership, led by Durham University,  covers the full range of social science subjects and is home to research that explores challenging and societally important questions, with a strength in examining issues of regional importance to Northeast England and Northern Ireland.  

Research examples include regional inequalities in educational provision, sexual violence within prisons, and the role of physical activity in the wellbeing of youth with disabilities. 

From 2024, all students will be expected to complete a 12-week placement, and the length of a standard studentship is being increased from three years to three and a half years, enhancing financial support for research and creating new opportunities to put it into practice.

Stian Westlake, ESRC Executive Chair, said: Our vision for postgraduate training is that it will develop globally competitive social science researchers who can operate in interdisciplinary, collaborative, and challenge-led environments across a range of sectors and who have a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. 

 “This redesigned and expanded doctoral training opportunity will enhance the experience for PhD students and boost the UK’s capability.” 

Find out more about postrgraduate opportunities at Newcastle University here.


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