Posted on: 12 July, 2019
Application deadline: August 31, 2019

ESRC PhD Studentship, Aberystwyth University, Wales (+3 or 1+3)

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University, linked to the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre. The studentship is open for proposals relating to the broad theme of ‘Civil Society and the Governance of the Future’. The studentship is available for either three years (+3) or four years (1+3), starting in October 2019, and, in both cases, includes tuition fees (UK/EU student rate) and a stipend of £15,009 per annum. Funds are also available to cover travel expenses for fieldwork and conference participation.

Students who are completing or who have completed a recognised research-training (RT) Master’s will be eligible for a +3 studentship (receiving three years of funding). Otherwise, students will be expected to register for the MA Practising Human Geography at Aberystwyth University and will receive four years of funding (1+3 studentship).

Applications should be made online or using the PhD application form on the Aberystwyth University postgraduate admissions page: Applications should: 1) indicate that the application is for the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society studentship; 2) note whether the student is applying for a +3 or 1+3 studentship; 3) should include a detailed proposal outlining the student’s proposal focus and research design in response to the outline below. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss the proposal with the supervisors, Professors Rhys Jones and Mark Whitehead, in advance. The deadline for applications is 31 August 2019.

Further details of the studentship topic are given below. For more information about the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre see:


Civil Society and the Governance of the Future

Supervisors: Prof. Rhys Jones ( and Prof Mark Whitehead (

Pathway: Human Geography

Summary: Recent years have witnessed somewhat of a ‘turn’ or ‘moment’ with civil society stakeholders and governmental organisations of different kinds making concerted efforts to think proactively about how to govern long-term futures. There have been many examples of civil society stakeholders being consulted widely on their long-term vision of societal wellbeing, with notable examples being The Wales we Want (Jones and Ross 2016) and The Finland we Want (SDSG 2015) exercises. These exercises have been significant in that they have allowed civil society organisations, within different geographical settings, to consider how social justice, equality and sustainable development might be achieved in the long term (cf. Massey 2004). At the same time, the creation of just, empowering and sustainable futures (Counsell and Haughton 2006; Krueger and Gibbs 2010) has become an objective for governmental organisations of different kinds. In Wales there have been far-reaching changes to governance, with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act leading to the creation of the Office of the Commissioner of Future Generations (responsible for challenging public bodies in Wales to act differently in relation to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act), Public Services Boards (charged with developing local wellbeing plans) and a Future Trends Programme within the Welsh Government so that progress towards wellbeing goals can be monitored.

While these developments have been subject to a certain amount of scrutiny (e.g. Jones 2019; Anderson 2010; Andersson and Keizer 2014), there has been very little critical academic research yet, which has considered the way in which the governance of the future: 1) is emerging as a common object of government in many states and sub-states; 2) is being implemented in different ways in different states and sub-states; 3) is opening up new kinds of engagement between state organisations and civil society; 4) can be a vehicle for developing more inclusive visions of society and politics within states and regions, which can help to counter current discourses that emphasise social, political and cultural exclusivity.

The proposed PhD project would examine these key concerns through a research strategy designed by the successful applicant, which may include qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis using appropriate methods. The project will involve a primary case study of the application of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act in Wales, with the opportunity for a comparative case study in Finland or Germany (or another location proposed by the successful candidate).