Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (Digit) PhD Studentships (2021)





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The Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (Digit), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), aims to advance our understanding of how digital technologies are reshaping work. The two studentships are part of the Management PhD programme at the University of Sussex Business School. The University of Sussex is part of the ESRC’s Southeast Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS), and as such, the successful candidate will have access to the training and support available through SeNSS.

Type of award

Digit is offering two studentships, with a stipend & covering fees, starting in 2021, on digital adoption in business or retail.

PhD project

There are two studentships on offer focusing on adoption of digital technologies in either business services or retail services.

The first studentship will encompass a doctoral student undertaking research on the role of international comparisons of the take up of digital technology at work with a particular focus on business services; this may cover the area of legal services, HR, consultancy, accountancy or finance The student will undertake research using a range of research methods to compare the extent to which digital technologies are being adopted by firms. It is anticipated this will draw on internationally comparative data as well as on more qualitative sector case studies in two countries, one of which would be the UK. During this research time, a student will be collaborating with a range of partners, including relevant governments departments and with business service firms based in the UK, EU and North America. The student main supervisor will be Prof Jacqueline O’Reilly (Digit Director) with co-supervision from Prof Richard Dickens (Economics, University of Sussex Business School).

The second studentship will involve a doctoral student undertaking research on the role of international comparisons of the take up of digital technology at work with a particular focus on retail services. High street retailing has been particularly keenly affected by the advent of online shopping with the consequence of significant bankruptcies and job losses. At the same time employment in retail has increased with the growth of warehouse and delivery jobs servicing the demand from Internet shoppers. The doctoral student will be undertaking research using a range of research methods to compare the extent to which digital technology is being adopted by firms in the retail sector. This will draw on internationally comparative data as well as on more qualitative sector case studies in two countries, one of which would be the UK, and can draw on the close links Digit has with retail firms e.g. in the UK and US. The student main supervisor will be Prof Jacqueline O’Reilly, with co-supervision from Dr Odul Bozkurt (HRM, University of Sussex Business School).

Both studentships will receive all the shared support  available to the Early Career Researchers (ECRs) at the University of Sussex, in addition to that provided by the Digit centre through the Mid- and Early-Career Researchers (MECR) Forum, and through SeNSS. They will be mentored by senior academics outside their host university and will be able to attend dedicated training events and workshops. They will belong to a larger cohort of PhD students and ECRs across the various locations of the Digit centre and will be  expected to take an active part in joint activities, events and career development opportunities.


The PhD studentship is offered for three years, beginning in September 2021, renewable on a yearly basis, subject to satisfactory performance on the doctoral degree. The successful candidate will receive:

  • Full fee UK tuition fee waiver, currently £4,407 per annum.
  • Stipend equivalent to the UKRI doctoral stipend, currently £15,285 per annum.

UK PhD fees and stipend rates are set at the level recommended by United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) annually, rising in line with inflation.

How to apply

Please submit a formal application using our online application system at, including as attachments:

  • a CV (2-3 pages),
  • degree transcripts and certificates,
  • statement of interest that indicates why you would like to be considered and what you would like to research, highlighting clearly whether you would like to be considered for the PhD focusing on either Business Services or Retail Services (max 1 page)
  • a piece of written work (e.g. essay/project from your undergraduate or master’s course)
  • names of two academic referees

On the application system use Programme of Study – PhD Management.

Please make sure you include Prof Jacqueline O’Reilly as your preferred supervisor and Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (Digit) PhD studentship in the Funding Section of the application form.


  • 2:1 honours degree,
  • Masters degree ideally in a related subject (or studying for this) with a good level pass, or non-UK equivalent.
  • Proof of proficiency in English i.e., an IELTS certificate taken within the last two years. (At least 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each of the four sections.)

We require a 2:1 undergraduate qualification, or equivalent, and ideally a Masters in a relevant subject area to work and employee relations, e.g. HRM, organisational behaviour, data analytics, research methods, economics or related disciplines. These studentships can only cover Home Student fees and are therefore open to UK students (or those with indefinite leave to remain / settled status in the UK). Overseas (including EU) applicants would need to indicate how they would fund the difference between UK and Overseas fees, which are not covered by this studentship.

You will count as a UK (Home) student if you are:

  • a UK national who has been living in the UK or EU for the three years prior to starting your course;
  • an EU national with Settled Status;
  • an EU national with Pre-Settled status who has been living in the UK or EU for 3 years prior to starting your course;
  • a student with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK;
  • an Irish National (due to a reciprocal agreement with the UK)

All other students, including EU nationals moving to the UK to start their PhD, will count as Overseas students.

We welcome applications from suitably qualified people, regardless of ethnicity, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, and working patterns. 

Apply Through Truscho APPLY NOW official website



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