Three PhD scholarships on pastoralism in Kenya, China and Italy


As part of an Advanced Grant European Research Council award, led by Professor Ian Scoones, we are recruiting three PhD students to start in February 2019 for three years full-time.

The students will be working with the PASTRES project in Qinghai-Sichuan, China, Sardinia, Italy or Isiolo, Kenya. Applicants must come from these regions, be deeply committed to pastoral development, and eager to work on the social and political dimensions of uncertainty in pastoral areas, as part of a research-based PhD training in ‘development studies’.

For more details on qualifying requirements and how to apply, see below. The deadline for scholarship applications is 20 July 2018.

If you are interested in affiliating with the project but do not qualify for the PhD scholarships, see the options for research affiliation with PASTRES for PhDs and post-docs (PDF).

Full details: PASTRES PhD scholarships

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The PASTRES research programme, funded by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council, is seeking to recruit three PhD students on fully-funded studentships to explore responses to uncertainty among pastoralists in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, Isiolo, Kenya and Sardinia, Kenya, starting in February 2019.

For details on PASTRES, see the website at, and the overview documents below:

All three students will be registered at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, under the supervision of Professor Ian Scoones. The University of Sussex, including IDS, has been ranked first in the world in the QS university rankings for development studies. Additional supervisory support will be provided by Dr Michele Nori (European University Institute) and Dr Jeremy Lind (IDS), as well as country partners (Dr Gongbuzeren, Southwestern University/Peking University; Dr Mahmoud Hussein, Technical University of Mombasa, Kenya and Antonello Franca, CNR, Sardinia).

PASTRES PhD students will benefit from association with IDS, Sussex and EUI, Florence, and be involved in a major research programme on pastoralism, with opportunities for wider exposure and engagement in academic and policy networks. The studentships will also involve participation in the ESRC STEPS Centre’s summer school, and links to the Centre’s activities.


Qualification criteria include:

  • Good undergraduate qualification in social or natural sciences.
  • Post-graduate training (e.g. MA/MSc in social sciences) and/or experience in local pastoral development.
  • Conceptual and practical interest in the project themes, and ability to articulate how the project framework can be developed in a PhD study (see the PASTRES website and outline of potential PASTRES research themes (PDF)).
  • Close association with the study region, including local language capacities, and commitment to pastoral development.
  • Commitment to extended periods of rural fieldwork in sometimes difficult conditions.
  • Willingness to work as part of a team and to contribute to the wider project.

Note: you can apply to be affiliated to the project in other ways, including if you are working in other areas. See PhD and post-doctoral research affiliations with the PASTRES project (PDF)

PhD training at the Institute of Development Studies

The PhD training by research at IDS will be in ‘development studies’, an interdisciplinary problem-focused domain, but rooted in the social sciences, so the candidate should have an interest in such an academic/professional trajectory. All students will be expected to use a mix of qualitative, quantitative and participatory methods.

Fees and costs

Full fees (either European or ‘overseas’) and living/field costs, pegged at the UK Research Council studentship rates, will be paid for three years. No extra costs can be paid for family or other dependents. All costs associated with the PhD must come from the grant, although the project will pay for attendance at some PASTRES workshops/conference and some extra training opportunities.

University of Sussex registration and UK residence requirements will be followed. IDS/University of Sussex will assist with student visa applications.

Timeline and programme

The 3-year PhD training will start in February 2019 at IDS at the University of Sussex, with an intensive workshop based training, exposing students to the themes of the project, and a wider literature, led by Professor Scoones, with inputs from Dr Nori and Dr Lind, among others.

All students will attend the STEPS Centre’s summer school in May 2019 over two weeks.

Fieldwork proposal development, methods training and further intensive reading, as well as collation of relevant materials for the fieldwork will occur until September 2019. This will include the presentation of a Research Outline Paper for peer review at a seminar.

Fieldwork will begin around October 2019 and last a year. Students will be supported by country partners, who will provide limited logistical, institutional and mentoring support. A cross-project workshop will occur during this period, allowing students to compare notes. Visits to field sites will occur by Ian Scoones / Michele Nori.

All students will return to Sussex by the end of 2020 for a period of writing up. During this period, further training in writing skills, presentation and analysis will be offered. A Work In Progress paper will be presented at a seminar, for review during 2021.

All students will be expected to support PASTRES research activities in the selected areas – including sourcing of market data and information, images to detect and analyse changes in local land use, as well as networking and establishing collaborative partnerships with local agencies, organizations and authorities.

Students will also participate in PASTRES dissemination and communication activities, by contributing written and photographic material during their fieldwork activities, developing both individual and co-written papers during the finalisation of their theses, as well as presenting at conferences and workshops, representing the project. They will also provide support linked to training in communicating research results, writing blogs and for the web.

Application process

Please send to [email protected] by 20 July:

  • A two page statement, explaining why you are interested in pursuing a PhD, your personal and professional motivations, and how you would like to engage with the PASTRES research themes (see the website at, and the list of potential research themes (PDF)). In your statement you must indicate clearly how you match to qualification criteria (see above).
  • A one-page CV, including details of past degrees and results, publications and relevant work experience.
  • Nominate two referees, with email addresses. We will only contact them if you are shortlisted.
  • One example of written academic material in English.
  • Details of your English language capacities (spoken/written).  This might include, for example, results of IELTS or an equivalent English language test – or any other appropriate evidence.

We will select a shortlist at the end of July and interview those shortlisted by Skype in early September. Once selected by the project, prospective students will have to apply formally to the University of Sussex for entry in February 2019. Further details will be provided to the successful candidates.


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