Each year Queen Margaret University invites applications from individuals with a strong academic record for funded QMU PhD studentships.

Applications are now closed for September 2020. Please check back on our website in February 2021 for details on applying for September 2020.

Externally funded opportunities may be available out with these timescales and will be advertised accordingly.

We welcome self-funded applications all year round.

What are the topics?

QMU Bursary Funded PhD Studentships

The QMU funded PhD studentships for September 2020 intake will be allocated to the advertised research topics. Please check the relevant Research Centre below for details of the topics advertised:

Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research

  • Community-based rehabilitation and exercise after critical illness [BUR 20-15]
  • Frailty and risk of falling in patients with non-dialysis dependent chronic kidney disease (CKD) [BUR 20-16]
  • The influence of off-the-shelf foot orthoses in the management of Symptomatic Hypermobility in children [BUR 20-17]
  • Foot drop and Functional Electrical Stimulation in people with Multiple Sclerosis [BUR 20-18]
  • Evidence based classification for RaceRunning as a World Para Athletics event [BUR 20-19]

Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre

Applications are invited on any topic related to CASL’s current research, but 2019 bursary applications which address one of our four priority topics will be preferred:

  • Acquisition of English phonology in bi-dialectal contexts and bi-dialectal families [BUR 20-22]
  • Phonetic planning and silent transitions into and out of audible speech [BUR 20-23]
  • The perception and production of typical disfluencies in speech [BUR 20-24]
  • Language and communication challenges for vulnerable young adults [BUR 20-25]

Centre for Applied Social Sciences

  • Effects of gestational age at birth on participation outcomes at 10-12 years of age: longitudinal study of infants born in the United Kingdom [BUR 20-05]
  • Emotion perception, empathy and UK politics: The role of conservatism, social dominance orientation and the behavioural immune system [BUR 20-06]
  • Exploring Eyewitness Identification Decision Making [BUR 20-07]
  • Memory and Museum Community Engagement [BUR 20-08]
  • More than just eating: The social practices of food and the interface of food practices, nurture & wellbeing [BUR 20-09]
  • More than just playing: children’s lived experiences of outdoor learning [BUR 20-10]
  • Preparing Educators for the Twenty-First Century: How is Social Justice understood and valued in Education? [BUR 20-11]
  • Social prescribing of occupation and its impact on community [BUR 20-12]
  • Social togetherness and the movement of groups [BUR 20-13]
  • Transitions from Education to Work: Experiences of Gypsy/Traveller Youth in Scotland [BUR 20-14]

Centre for Communication, Cultural and Media Studies

  • Documenting performance and/or animating archives [BUR 20-26]
  • Engagement and public interest [BUR 20-27]
  • Developments in film genre  [BUR 20-28]
  • Decolonising Film Festivals and Film Festival Studies [BUR 20-29]

Centre for Person-centred Practice Research

The Centre’s research strategy (2018-2021) is operationalised through four research themes - person-centred culture, experiences of person-centredness, person-centred interventions and person-centred curriculum. Thus the research undertaken through this bursary will be carried out and reported in such a way that it contributes to the growing international body of knowledge and expertise in person-centredness in health and social care; this might be in practice, research or education or other related areas.

Applicants are welcome from all health, social care and associated professions or from people who have had different life experiences with healthcare. We are open to applicants proposing an exact topic for research, but applicants need to specify which theme (person-centred culture, experiences of person-centredness, person-centred interventions or person-centred curriculum) the research will contribute to. The applicant will also need to provide an evidence-informed rationale for the chosen topic, aims/research questions, methodology, methods and intended outcomes. The application must also consider how the research will draw on a person-centred approach/methodology (cf McCormack et al 2017).


McCormack B, Eide T, Skovdal K, Eide H, Kapstad H and van Dulman S (2017) Person-centred Healthcare Research – ‘the person in question’: The Person-centred Research Handbook, Wiley Publishers, Oxford.

Topic Code [BUR 20-04]

Institute for Global Health and Development

Applications are invited for a research training bursary (i.e. A PhD plus Doctoral Certificate in Researcher Enhancement and Development) in topics related to one of the Institute’s two thematic clusters:

Health Systems [BUR 20-20]

Aligned with our current projects and research priorities, we encourage applications that develop specific proposals for doctoral-level work in the following areas:

  • Approaches to health systems strengthening in fragile and conflict-affected settings, including for health financing, human resources for health (including CHWs) and models of service delivery at the intersection between emergency and routine provision.
  • Political economies of health reform decision-making at global, national and local levels
  • Health labour market approaches to address Human Resources for Health challenges in LMICs
  • Complexity science or systems dynamics approaches for global health research, based on a case study of candidates’ choice in either one or multiple settings (e.g. using complexity science methods to explore differential impacts of performance based financing in two countries).
  • Gender-based approaches to strengthening health systems beyond SRH: Comparative analysis using sociological, historical or political economy methods to understand health systems and policy trajectories of men's health issues as they evolve on the global health agenda.
  • Ethnographic or qualitative methods, focussed on social responses to public health programmes/policy including pathways of health-seeking, addressing how social relations and everyday life - particularly in the context of crises and borderlands - affect knowledge and the management of afflictions.

Psychosocial Wellbeing, Integration and Protection [BUR 20-21]

Aligned with our current projects and research priorities, we encourage applications that develop specific proposals for doctoral-level work in the following areas:

  • Longitudinal study of the development of refugees’ social networks and their role in integration and settlement.
  • Social networks, coping and resilience in conflict and/or disaster affected settings.
  • Using co-production in research with refugees and asylum seekers
  • The cultural politics of forced displacement and implications on integration.
  • The role of traditional and religious community actors in child protection.
  • Role of faith-based approaches in strengthening wellbeing in humanitarian settings

Queen Margaret Business School

  •  The development and management of social enterprise and alternative community-based enterprise systems [BUR 20-01]
  • An exploration of factors that influence scale-up decision making in SMEs in Scotland [BUR 20-02]
  • Food and the Media [BUR 20-03]


Would you like to suggest your own research topic?

If you wish to apply to undertake a PhD in a topic outwith the specific funded topic areas, or undertake PhD research on a non-resident basis, you are welcome to apply for the self-funded PhD programme. By "self-funded" we mean that you would need to find another source of funds to pay your tuition fees and living costs, for example, via a career development loan or employer supported funding.

Please visit the PhD course page and see the 'How to Apply' tab below for further information.





What does the bursary cover?

Successful candidates commencing study in September 2020 will receive:

  • a full waiver of tuition fees;
  • an annual stipend of £15,225 lasting 3 years for full-time study; and
  • a research budget of £2,000 to cover project expenses and travel.

Please note that topics funded by external partners may have different conditions attached, and these will be specified within the documentation.

Successful candidates will also be enrolled on the Researcher Enhancement and Development (READ) programme, which has been designed to formally recognise the learning that accompanies the successful completion of the QMU PhD programme. Successful completion of the READ programme will allow candidates to receive a 60 credit Doctoral Certificate (DCert) in addition to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) award.

Who can apply?

PhD studentships can only be awarded for candidates willing to undertake research in specific topics as determined by the University and or funding partners. No scholarships are available for other research projects.

To be eligible for a bursary, the following criteria must apply:

  • the applicant meets the standard entry criteria for the QMU PhD Programme;
  • the research proposal is in one of the topic areas specified above;
  • applicants will be expected to study on a full-time basis, and the successful candidates must be willing to be resident within reach of Edinburgh (applications for distance-learning study will not be accepted); and
  • applicants must be willing to study for a full PhD, not an MPhil.

Successful candidates are likely to have a good qualification in the relevant topic: either a first class Honours degree or a Masters. Dedication, enthusiasm and strong communication skills in both written and spoken English are essential. A valid IELTS certificate is required if English is not your first language and you have not completed a Masters degree from a UK institution or international institution where the course was delivered and assessed in English. Applicants may come from the UK or any other country. Where applicable, international applicants must be able to meet the UKVI requirements to be granted a Student Route visa.

How to apply

An overview of the PhD course is provided via the PhD course page. Guidance on applying for the PhD is provided here.

You can apply to the PhD bursary competition online using the Admissions Portal (accessed via the 'Apply Now' button at the bottom of this section). The application process includes completion of an application form and submission of supporting documentation, including a research proposal.

The online application form allows you to save your progress, and you will be able to complete your PhD application in multiple stages, if required.

Following submission of your completed application, you will receive a QMU applicant ID number. Please quote this in any correspondence you have with QMU.

Application form

Please pay close attention to the spelling of your email address within the online form, as this is how we will contact you about your application.

Please ensure you select the appropriate course with the corresponding bursary code for your application (e.g. BUR 20-XX).  When searching for the appropriate code, we recommend you enter 'bursary' into the keyword field which will then display all the bursary options.

Supporting information and documents

As part of your application, you will need to write a personal statement that sets out your experience, suitability for doctoral study, and motivation for applying to study on the QMU PhD programme.

As part of your application, you will need to provide:

  • the bursary code for the topic to which you are applying (e.g. BUR20-XX);
  • your PhD research proposal;
  • copies of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • confirmation of your English language ability (if required); and
  • copies of two letters of reference.

You will be able to upload these supporting documents as part of the application process. This is an important part of the admissions process, and without seeing supporting documents tutors will not have enough information to make a decision on your application. 

PhD Research Proposal

All applicants to the QMU PhD programme must provide a proposal for research that has academic merit and is capable of generating new knowledge. We will use your research proposal to check how well you understand the research process

Your PhD research proposal should:

  • be around 1000 words long;
  • summarise what the research is about;
  • set out why the research is important, making reference to current literature;
  • identify provisional research questions; and
  • suggest how the research questions can be investigated.

Please note that the research proposal must be written in your own words and should NOT include text that has been copied from books or articles. This is considered plagiarism and will lead to the automatic rejection of your application. In some cases, academic reviewers may submit research proposals to Turnitin in order to verify the legitimacy of the proposed research.

QMU bursary funding is only available for PhD study based at QMU, and for topics that have been specified by the University.

Qualifications (certificates and transcripts)

Please upload copies of your degree certificates and transcripts for any undergraduate or Masters degrees that you have completed or are about to complete.

Evidencing English language ability

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an IELTS certificate or have completed a degree which was delivered and assessed in English.

Only valid IELTS certificates are accepted as evidence of English language capability.  You need a score of 6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in each element).  IELTS certificates are valid for two years after the test date.

If you completed a degree, at a non-UK institution, that was delivered and assessed in English, then you will need to provide a formal letter from the institution, on headed paper, stating that your degree was delivered and assessed in English. 

If your documents are in any language other than English then they will need to be accompanied by a formal certified translation into English, by either the awarding institution or a sworn translator.

References Two academic references are required.

Referees must provide your reference in the form of a formal letter on headed paper. The reference must be dated and signed (and ideally stamped). Please note that we may contact your referee to verify the reference letter prior to it being accepted.

Referee contact details should include a professional email account. Please do not provide personal email addresses for referees (such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo), as these will not be accepted.  


The deadline for applying to the QMU bursary competition is Friday 13 March 2020.

Apply Now



For further information regarding the PhD Programme please contact the Graduate School Team at graduateschool@qmu.ac.uk.

For further information regarding the Application process please contact Admissions@qmu.ac.uk.  

Graduate School

For further information or enquiries please get in touch.

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Graduate School

Graduate School Professional Doctorate and Ph.D Enquiries
0131 474 0000
Master Research Degree - Application Enquiries Admissions Team
0131 474 0000