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UBEL (UCL, Bloomsbury and East London) Doctoral Training Partnership

Birkbeck is a member of the prestigious UCL, Bloomsbury and East London (UBEL) Doctoral Training Partnership, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Every year, UBEL awards over 40 studentships across 25 pathways at the following institutions: 

  • Birkbeck, University of London 
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) 
  • School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS)
  • University College London (UCL)  
  • University of East London (UEL). 

Applications for 2019-20 are now open. The deadline for preliminary applications is 8 January 2019, but some departments have internal deadlines earlier than this - check each pathway below for specific deadlines. 

UBEL pathways at Birkbeck

You can apply for UBEL funding on the following pathways (you should contact the UBEL pathway leader before you apply):  

Archaeology and Heritage Studies

  • Disciplines include: 
    • archaeological practice 
    • cultural heritage studies 
    • heritage studies 
    • public archaeology 
    • heritage science 
    • sustainable heritage.
  • Birkbeck contactJen Baird 
  • Birkbeck internal deadline: you must apply to Birkbeck for this pathway by 14 December 2018
  • Preliminary UBEL application deadline: if invited to apply, you must submit a preliminary UBEL application by 8 January 2019
  • Final UBEL application deadline: successful preliminary applicants will be invited after 31 January 2019 to submit a full UBEL application by 4 March 2019.
  • Find out more about the archaeology and heritage studies pathway

Economic and Social History

  • We focus on the relationship between society, the economy and power, state formation and emergent fields such as educational history, healthcare, environmental history and technology and material/consumer culture. 


Gender and Sexuality

  • We have expertise in the areas of gender and: international development; psychosocial studies and sociology; law; media and cultural studies; and sexuality and history.

Health and Wellbeing

  • We have particular expertise and interests in: family and child health; lived experience of health; resilience in breast cancer; health psychology; and quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. 

Human Geography

  • Birkbeck offers expertise in critical human geography and environmental geography and is involved in collaborative projects in this area.

Law and Criminology

  • The School of Law at Birkbeck has a reputation for pioneering new fields of legal scholarship offering a strong critical, theoretically driven and dynamic research culture and a breadth of expertise and research interests.


  • With an emphasis on interdisciplinary methods, we seek to understand the nature and functions of language and communication in real-life contexts through rigorous, critical examination.

Politics and International Relations

  • The Politics and International Relations pathway of this DTP brings together three departments with world-class reputations for research excellence: Birkbeck's Department of Politics, the School of Oriental and African Studies' Department of Politics and International Studies and UCL's Department of Political Science/School of Public Policy. Together, these departments span more subfields of politics and international relations and more geographical foci than any other ESRC doctoral training partnership in the UK. Between 2008 and 2013, the three departments had in excess of £4.7 million in research funded by the ESRC, AHRC, EC and other bodies and supervised more than 80 doctoral students to successful completion.
  • If you are offered a place on Birkbeck's MPhil/PhD programme, you will have an opportunity to apply for an Economic and Social Research Council studentship via the Politics and International Relations pathway of the UBEL DTP. You can apply for a full award or a fees-only award or full-time or part-time study subject to residency requirements. If you do not hold a recognised ESRC master's degree, you can apply for a +3 ESRC studentship to cover the costs of a Master's degree before moving on to a PhD.
  • In addition to provision within Birkbeck, students following the Politics and International Relations pathway will have the opportunity to take modules across SOAS and UCL.
    • Birkbeck internal deadline: 7 December 2018
    • How to apply: you should include a covering letter with your application stating that you wish to be considered for an ESRC studentship. This letter should make clear that Birkbeck and the UBEL DTP are your first choice in applying for an ESRC studentship and explain why your academic studies to date and proposed research project make you a suitable candidate for this highly competitive source of funding.
    • Pathway details
    • Contact: Dermot Hodson


  • We offer great breadth with interlocking areas of strength in development, education, social change, language, cognition, neuroscience, and computation. Applications are student-led, but in practice are joint with the supervisor.
  • How to apply: The initial application involves a two-page expression of interest, describing the student profile, supervisor experience and intended project. Expressions of interest will be triaged, and a subset of students will be invited to make full applications by the end of February (since the full application process is time-consuming, the triage is intended to save everyone time by ensuring all full applications are competitive).

Psychosocial Studies

  • This is an interdisciplinary field drawing on critical frameworks to study the interconnections between individual subjectivities, group identities, and historical and contemporary social and political formations.


  • We have a range of sociological perspectives emphasising interdisciplinarity, wide thematic reach, innovative and rigorous methodologies, global outlook and a commitment to ‘critical’, theory-building research.