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Migration and Movement Scholarships

The University of Kent is delighted to invite applications for two PhD scholarships starting in the academic year 2022/23, starting in September 2022 or January 2023.

Migration and Movement Signature Research Theme PhD Scholarships

Call for applications for 2022/23 entry

The University of Kent is delighted to invite applications for two PhD scholarships starting in the academic year 2022/23, starting in September 2022 or January 2023.

One of the two scholarships is named in honour of Emeritus Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature and a former student and member of staff in the School of English at the University of Kent, whose work and personal life have highlighted the condition of migrants and refugees.

The call is open to candidates interested in pursuing a PhD programme in any discipline at the University of Kent on a research project directly linked to the themes of migration and movement. Interdisciplinary projects are warmly encouraged, but applications that fall within a single discipline are also welcome. Applications will be ranked by an interdisciplinary panel and must be written in plain language, avoiding over-reliance on disciplinary jargon. Candidates will be required to articulate why their project is timely, original and important, and why they are the right person to undertake the proposed research.

We particularly welcome applications from candidates from minority backgrounds (as protected by the UK Equality Act 2010) and people with lived experience of migration and/or forced displacement as they are under-represented at this level in this area.

Scholarship and eligibility

Home and Overseas candidates are eligible to apply. The Abdulrazak Gurnah Doctoral Scholarship will cover Overseas fees, while the Migration and Movement Doctoral Scholarship will cover Home fees only, including for those with UK settled or pre-settled status. It is anticipated that one scholarship will be awarded to a researcher working in the broad area of Sciences and the other will be awarded to a researcher working in the Humanities and/or Social Sciences.

Current Kent PhD students in their first year of study are eligible to apply to cover the remainder of their registration. Any current Kent PhD students should contact their School Director of Graduate Studies (Research) to advise them of their interest in being considered for these studentships as soon as possible.

Signature Research Theme doctoral candidates will receive the following:

  • Annual stipend at UKRI rates (£15,609 in 2021/22)
  • Annual tuition fees at UKRI Home or Overseas rates

Migration and Movement Signature Research Theme

The Migration and Movement Signature Research Theme (SRT) is a vibrant community of scholars and practitioner academics working in the field of migration and movement, led by Professor David Herd (English), Dr Bahriye Kemal (English), Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels (Politics), Dr Margherita Laera (Drama), Dr Tom Parkinson (Higher Education) and Dr Sweta Rajan-Rankin (Sociology).

Members bring a number of interdisciplinary perspectives, from International Law to Urban Planning, Pharmacy, Statistics, Politics and Entrepreneurship. The SRT aims to expand our understanding of migration beyond the movement of people to include the migration of pathogens, remittances, technologies, cultures, scriptures, coffee, drugs, medicines, labour, and ideas.

The Migration and Movement SRT launched in September 2021, at an historical moment when intersecting crises of movement were (and still are) taking place. As Covid-19 continues to spread, governments are enforcing lockdowns and movement restrictions, yet the UNHCR reports forced displacement at upwards of 75 million people. As climate change accelerates and conflicts escalate, people will continue to seek sustainable existences elsewhere and will be compelled to move, yet governments in the global north are preparing to render the seeking of asylum more difficult or even illegal. 

As a public-facing, civic-oriented SRT, we believe universities – and our institution in particular – can play a key role as leaders of intellectual debates and as creators of advocacy and evidence-based research around migration, its contexts, histories and benefits. We are committed to learning from the work of decolonial and postcolonial colleagues, and from the perspectives of persons with lived experience. Reflexive learning and intersectional empathy underpin every aspect of our ethics. We are keen to foster the next generation of scholars working on issues of migration and movement, broadly conceived, and welcome applications from scholars in all disciplines represented at the University.

Application process

Applications for Signature Research Theme scholarships will be student-led, but shaped in conversation with supervisors. Candidates must contact potential supervisors as early as possible to begin a conversation on how to best shape their project. Candidates in the Humanities and Social Sciences will be expected to approach their supervisor with a draft proposal, which will receive feedback. Candidates in the Sciences are encouraged to approach a potential supervisor to see what projects they might contribute to. Candidates must have been accepted on the PhD programme before they can be considered for the scholarship. For interdisciplinary projects, two supervisors must be approached, and both must agree to supervise prior to the application being submitted. Academic staff contact details can be found on the relevant School and Department webpages.

Applicants should follow the University of Kent’s online application process. Please note that the scholarship is not listed on the PhD application form, and in order to indicate your interest in being considered for this award, you should follow the process below:

As part of the process, you should submit the following documents:

  • your research proposal on a Migration and Movement-related area (max 2500 words), entitled ‘Initial_Surname_MMSRT_Proposal’;
  • your CV, entitled (one side of A4), entitled ‘Initial_Surname_CV’;
  • a cover letter (one side of A4), entitled ‘Initial_Surname_CoverLetter’, indicating how your research fits within the Migration and Movement theme, and why you deserve the scholarship;
  • details of your qualifications, entitled ‘Initial_Surname_Qualification’;
  • two academic references, which must be submitted with your application.

As well as submitting via the University’s online application portal, candidates who wish to be considered for this scholarship will need to send an email entitled ‘Migration and Movement SRT Scholarship’ to, adding their Kent supervisor(s) in CC, by 17.00 on Friday 11 March 2022.

Entry requirements

Applicants to a PhD programme should normally hold a good Honours degree (First or 2:1) and a Master’s Degree (at Merit or Distinction) in a relevant discipline from an internationally recognised institution, or equivalent experience in a professional setting. In addition, programmes of study at individual Schools have specific entry requirements that need to be fulfilled (for these, please check under the ‘entry requirements’ tab on Kent’s course finder).

The University of Kent requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. For more information on English language requirements, please visit this page.

Selection process and timeline

Candidates are required to approach a potential supervisor and secure their willingness to supervise the project well ahead of the application submission deadline of 17.00 on Friday 11 March 2022.

University of Kent admissions policy requires formal online interviews to be held with potential supervisors before candidates can be accepted on any PhD programme. These interviews are likely to be held before the end of March 2022. Following your interview, supervisors will be asked to send a supporting statement to the final shortlisting panel.

The final interdisciplinary shortlisting panel will meet in the week commencing Monday 4 April. Academic representatives from each Division will examine each application and select the two successful projects.

Proposals will be judged on research excellence, originality, significance, rigour and on their potential to strengthen and expand the Migration and Movement Signature Research Theme at the University of Kent. Proposals that feature elements of interdisciplinarity – for instance drawing methodologies and research questions from Sciences and Humanities; Social Sciences and Sciences; or Social Sciences and Humanities – will be prioritised where all other assessment criteria have scored highly.

Candidates will be notified of the outcome by Thursday 14 April 2022. Funded applicants will start in September 2022 or January 2023.

For any queries, please get in touch with the Migration and Movement team at

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