Economic and Social Impact of Universal Credit

The candidate will conduct quantitative research addressing one of the most contentious and important issues in UK public policy: the ‘Universal Credit’ welfare reform.

Number of places



International fee, Home fee


10 February 2018


31 May 2018


36 mths from 1st October 2018 (or 48 mths if MSc + PhD)


Candidates are required to have:

  • Either: An excellent undergraduate degree (with Honours) in Economics (or related field) if applying for 1+3 funding (i.e. MSc and PhD funding). In this case you will obtain an MSc providing ESRC-accredited doctoral training by the Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics (SGPE). While the University of Strathclyde is a full member and contributes to the teaching of the MSc programme, it will take place at the University of Edinburgh; the subsequent 3-year PhD will take place at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
  • Or: An excellent Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Economics if applying for +3 funding (i.e. PhD funding only). This MSc has to be at a recognised, ESRC-accredited doctoral training MSc Programme, such as (but not limited to) the Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics (SGPE). 
  • Experience in programming (especially proficiency in Stata) is highly desirable
  • Candidates who are not native English speakers will be required to provide evidence of their English skills (such as by IELTS or similar tests that are approved by UKVI, or a degree completed in an English speaking country)

Eligibility for RCUK studentships

  • Research Council (RC) fees and stipend can only be awarded to UK and EU students and not to EEA or International students.
  • EU students are only eligible for RC stipend if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years, including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting their PhD.
  • If an EU student cannot fulfil this condition then they are eligible for a fees only studentship.
  • International students cannot be funded from RC funds unless they are ‘settled’ in the UK. ‘Settled’ means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of stay in the UK. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC law. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen they have the Right of Abode.
  • Students with full Refugee status are eligible for fees and stipend.

Project Details

This PhD, fully funded by the ESRC in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, will address one of the most contentious and high profile policy issues in the UK: the roll-out of Universal Credit. The research programme will seek to quantitatively evaluate the impact of this programme using modern econometric methods. The successful applicant will utilise a range of datasets to understand the impact of Universal Credit rollout on labour market and wider social/economic outcomes. The student will work closely with the supervisory team on this project, but of course, there is also clear scope to develop and pursue their own research ideas within the broader research area.

This PhD is offered in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a leading organisation working on addressing the root causes of poverty and deprivation in the UK. This opens up opportunities for the successful candidate to become involved in and contribute to Joseph Rowntree Foundation activities and benefit from their expert knowledge and insight into this topic.

The successful candidate will become part of the Department of Economics and will be affiliated with the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI). The FAI is a leading economic research institute in Scotland with extensive research and knowledge exchange activities aligned to Scottish and UK public policy. As such, the student will have access to the expertise of a wide range of experienced researchers, opportunities to engage with policymakers, and join a cohort of other PhD students undertaking policy-relevant research.

Funding Details

If the successful candidate has already undertaken (or will shortly complete) an approved course of MSc study in economics, the scholarship will cover three years of PhD tuition fees student, plus a tax free stipend of over £14,000 per year.

If the successful candidate has not already completed an approved MSc course in Economics, the funding will cover four years of study (including full fees plus stipend of over £14,000 per year) including a one-year MSc in Economics followed by a three-year period of the same funding for a PhD.

Students will also have access to funds for research training support and to attend workshops and conferences.



How to apply

At this stage, we are inviting applicants to apply for the scholarship only. The successful candidate will then be asked to complete an application for PhD study at Strathclyde.

All applications should include:

  • a cover letter indicating the candidate's relevant skills/experience and how they can contribute to this research
  • a CV and relevant qualification transcripts
  • two references (please refer to guidance on references)

When sending the above documents please use the following file-naming convention:


eg. Smith_John_coverletter

Apply now by uploading your documents.

NB Whilst this scholarship application deadline is 31st May 2018, candidates will be considered on receipt of application. The scholarship award may be allocated before the deadline (at the discretion of the supervisor), so please ensure early submission to avoid disappointment.