Professionalising science journalism

Exploring how to connect research and practice to transform the field


A PhD studentship is available to explore how science communication research can be integrated in science journalism practice, and more broadly, science communication practice. This University-funded studentship will be based at the renowned Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol.

Ref: 2324-MAY-HSS01.

Expected start date: 1 May 2024.

Closing date for applications: 16 February 2024.

Studentship details

The COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in misinformation have heightened the need for effective science communication and discussions about how science communication may be professionalised have increased. The professionalisation of science communication would involve access to an organised body of knowledge that would inform practice (Trench, 2017). Yet, there is a perceived disconnect between research and practice.

This PhD will investigate how to create closer connections between science communication research and practice, with a primary focus on science journalism.

The successful candidate will define the research approach with the supervisors. This research may consider the perspectives of those working in science journalism on how research can support their activities, barriers to their engagement with research and how the field should be professionalised. It may also explore researchers’ perspectives.

This research will run in parallel to the European Commission-funded COALESCE project, developing a European Competence Centre for Science Communication, in which UWE Bristol is a partner. 


A suggested approach to data collection and analysis should be included in the proposal that will form part of the application. The data collection may enable insights to be collected from: science journalists and non-specialist journalists, informal online science writers and academics, among others.

The Science Communication Unit (SCU) at UWE Bristol has an international reputation for its research, practice and teaching in science communication. 

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Andy Ridgway (


The studentship is available from 1 May 2024 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which will be £18,622 (2023/24) per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years for Home, EU and International students.


This PhD studentship is open to applicants in the UK, EU and international applicants. Applicants will ideally have a:

  • minimum of 2:1 in relevant subject in an undergraduate degree (this could be in a science, social science or humanities subject)
  • interest in developing data analysis skills (e.g. either some experience of quantitative/qualitative research techniques or willingness to learn) 
  • interest, experience or qualification in science communication (e.g. MSc Science Communication), especially science journalism.

Applicants with questions about their eligibility are welcome to contact the supervisory team. 

How to apply

Please submit your application online. Your application should include a proposal outlining how the research will be conducted, who the participants will be and the insights this approach will yield. When prompted, use the reference number 2324-MAY-HSS01.

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and a recognised English language qualification (if required).

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Friday 16 February 2024.

Further information

It is expected that interviews will take place on 13 March 2024. If you have not heard from us by 2 March 2024, we thank you for your application but, on this occasion, you have not been successful.

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