Grammar schools and social mobility in England


An exciting opportunity to apply for a fully funded PhD position in the College of Health, Science and Society UWE Bristol.

Ref: 2324-OCT-HSS07

The expected start date of these studentships is 1 October 2023.

The closing date for applications is 18 June 2023.


Studentship details

This PhD has the research aim of rigorously critiquing the claim that grammar schools are engines of social mobility in England. This PhD situates the claim in the context of covid-related stratification, increases in poverty, and a declining economy, with social mobility in sustained and rapid decline. This research will apply a critical education* approach, and methodologically draw on critical realism** to execute the research aim. The applicant should have some foundational knowledge of critical realism or grammar schooling, or be interested in gaining it.

The outputs of the study will be able to impact policy development through high-quality real-world research with the aim of transforming lives.

The candidate will be expected to engage with the community of postgraduates to actively develop a vibrant research environment in the school by participating at the regular research seminars, reading groups, and other events of the Education and Childhood Research Group (ECRG). The studentship will include an expectation to disseminate work at international conferences in collaboration with the Director of Studies.

The successful applicant will be passionate about education, policy, and social justice.

*Chapter 30: Encyclopaedia of Marxism and Education. 2022.

**Chapter 1&13 Working with Critical Realism. 2023.

Email enquiries to the Dr Alpesh Maisuria Director of Studies at


The studentship is available from 1 October 2023 for a period of three and half years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £18,622 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


  • The ideal candidate will have first-class qualifications in a UK Honours degree and a Masters in a relevant area of study, such as, education, sociology, politics or policy.  
  • Applicants with a 2:1 UK Honours degree in a relevant programme may be considered, provided they have a Distinction/Commendation at Masters level in a relevant programme and relevant professional/research experience. Examples of relevant programmes are education, sociology, politics and social policy.
  • International applicants with equivalent qualifications may be considered if they can demonstrate excellent knowledge of critical realism, or critical education, or selective schooling in a comparable country to England.
  • A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2324-OCT-HSS07.

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 18 June 2023.

Further information

It is expected that interviews will take place Friday 21st July. If you have not heard from us by early July, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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