Interested in both quantitative data & social/environmental justice?

The Data for Justice team within the School of Geography and Sustainable Development (SGSD) at the University of St Andrews is delighted to announce two fully-funded PhD scholarships to join the School’s vibrant research community. The two scholarships are funded by the University’s new Digital Education Innovation Scheme through which we are developing a postgraduate taught programme in Data Literacy for Social and Environmental Justice (“Data for Justice”), to which successful candidates will contribute. The Data for Justice team currently includes 5 academic staff (Drs Cole, Fučkar, Hale, Mendo, Olamijuwon), with 4 PGRs to start 27th September 2023.

The successful candidates will receive funding for three years as follows: a stipend in line with UKRI rates (currently £17,668), an annual Research and Training Grant of £750-2000, and payment of tuition fees (home/international). The competition is open to candidates of all nationalities.

We welcome social scientists who (with one or more of the following):

  • are interested in studying questions of social and/or environmental justice, especially in relation to: health, migration, climate/environmental change, biodiversity/conservation, or the junctures of these fields;
  • can use and provide teaching support on quantitative methods;
  • seek to develop policy-relevant research and teaching;
  • are excited to work with the Data for Justice team to develop teaching in a virtual learning environment.

Successful candidates will have the opportunity to co-develop their PhD project alongside their supervisory team.

All students funded from this call will also be expected to contribute to the teaching process within the School, which could include but is not limited to leading tutorials, assisting with preparation and running of IT labs, contributing to lecture preparation and delivery, and marking. This will be paid in addition to the stipend and will average no more than 320 hours over the course of a year. A separate graduate teaching assistantship contract will be put in place to cover these teaching obligations.

Research and Training Support Funding

Successful students will as standard be provided with a Research and Training Support Grant (RTSG) at the present School rate (currently £750 per annum). Where the nature of the research means that greater expenses are expected (e.g., due to lab costs), staff/students can request additional funds up to a maximum total RTSG of £2000 per annum. Any request for additional funds must be clearly justified in the proposal and will be awarded at the discretion of the School.

How to apply

Applications should be made via the central University of St Andrews system at You should select School of Geography and Sustainable Development and clearly indicate in the funding section “Data for Justice SGSD Scholarship Competition 2023/4”.

For the application you will need:

  1. A covering letter, explaining your reason for wishing to undertake PhD study at SGSD, why you are a good candidate to undertake the proposed research, and what you would contribute to the postgraduate programme Data Literacy for Social and Environmental Justice.
  2. A Curriculum Vitae focusing on your academic track record and relevant experience.
  3. Transcripts and/or certificates of academic qualifications. Check that you fit the entry requirements for University of St Andrews Postgraduate studies – scroll down to find requirements for your country: .
  4. A writing sample of academic writing in English (e.g., a PhD research proposal, MSc thesis, conference paper, or similar piece of work).
  5. Names and contact details of two referees who can provide references.
  6. Evidence of English language capability, which may include evidence of prior Higher Education study in English or relevant certification (e.g. IELTS).  For more information see

For general criteria for entry to PhD programmes at the University of St Andrews see: Note that entry requirements vary by country. For UK students, the minimum academic qualification is a 2:1 Honours Degree in a relevant subject. International students should check requirements for their country here: Select your country here and check Postgraduate – academic requirements and English requirements.

The successful applicants will be expected to engage in full time study at the University of St Andrews, and reside within a commutable distance of St Andrews, in keeping with the university’s Location of Studies policy.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 31st May 2023, 17.00 (UK time).

Selection Process

Applications will be judged based on the academic track record and relevant experience of the candidate and their fit to the proposed work. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of staff from SGSD’s Data for Justice programme. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview, which will occur online, through MS Teams. Candidates will be informed of the outcome following interviews.

About the School of Geography and Sustainable Development

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development occupies the Irvine Building which is located in the historic town centre near the University Library and overlooks St Andrews Bay. The School is well-known for world-leading research in a number of areas and has three research groups: Environmental Change, Population and Health, and Geographies of Sustainability, Society and Possibility (GOSSIP). It further hosts the Bell-Edwards Geographic Data Institute (BEGIN), which specialises in analysis and modelling of geographic data. According to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 94% of research conducted in SGSD was classified as world-leading or internationally excellent, with an internationally-excellent research environment in the School. The School also has a well-established reputation for high teaching quality and was ranked fourth in the UK by The Times Good University Guide 2022. The School has 43 academic staff, 17 postdoctoral fellows and 37 PhD students, supported by 2 technicians and 6 administrative staff.

Postgraduate Research Study in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development

The School’s 37 PhD students (in St Andrews these are called research postgraduates, PGRs) are a vital part of its research culture. PGRs are engaged across the research interests of the School and all PGRs are members of Research Group(s). In addition to regular supervision and research group meetings, PGRs gather fortnightly for Lunch&Learn sessions with discussions related to PhD life and future careers, and there is a programme of social activities throughout the year, led by the PGR Reps. PGR Reps are members of the Postgraduate Committee which oversees PGR matters for the School and is Chaired by the Director of Postgraduate Studies.

PGRs are provided with deskspace, co-located with staff in the Irvine Building. All incoming PGRs are provided with a laptop. PGRs have access to all the facilities of the University including social, sporting and library facilities. PGRs also have opportunity to undertake skills training provided by the Centre for Educational Enhancement and Development (CEED) at St Andrews including their GradSkills Programme.

Progress through the PhD is monitored via the Annual PGR Conference and Review Meeting which take place in April. Through this process, together with supervision and training, the School achieves outstanding rates of PhD completion. Our PGR graduates have gone on to jobs in academia, industry, government and consultancy in the UK and elsewhere.


Please address enquiries to Dr Jo Mhairi Hale [email protected], the Director of the Data for Justice programme and Senior Lecturer in SGSD.