ESRC Review of the PhD in the Social Sciences icon

ESRC Review of the PhD in the Social Sciences

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is undertaking a review of the PhD in the Social Sciences. To inform this review, CFE Research in partnership with the University of York is carrying out research into the skills needed by social science PhD graduates for careers within and beyond academia and the optimum ways to develop them. The research will engage a wide range of UK and international stakeholders including: academics, PhD students, graduates and employers throughout 2020.

To inform this review, the ESRC launched an open consultation on 15th July 2020. Members of the research community, learned societies, government, business, third-sector organisations and others who have an interest in the future skills needed by social science PhD students are invited to respond. The consultation asks for views on the strengths of current approaches and the ways in which doctoral training could be improved to ensure graduates are better prepared for a range of careers in a competitive, global economy. Click here for further guidance and the online submission form.

The consultation will remain live until Wednesday 16 September 2020. Responses will be collected and analysed by CFE. The findings will be presented alongside wider evidence in a report in spring 2021. The report will directly inform the ESRC’s strategy for doctoral training and for recommissioning its Doctoral Training Partnerships in 2022/23.

The first output by the research team is a review of UK and international research evidence exploring the structure, funding and assessment of social science doctoral training and how effectively it currently support students to develop the skills employers need. Read the executive summary or the full report.

If you have specific queries about this consultation, please contact the CFE team on

Broader enquiries about the Review should be directed to Dr Lucy Thorne, Head of Leadership and Skills, ESRC on