Disability Studies

Find a programme
Run by Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time;
seven years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date We welcome new PhD students all year round. However, the largest intake is in September each year with a secondary intake in January. We strongly recommend applicants to consider either a September or January start.

Programme overview

The School for Policy Studies links theory, policy and practice in a multidisciplinary, research-intensive environment. Our research engages with and influences national and international policy. Our policy experts come from a wide variety of backgrounds in social policy research, social work, sociology, gender violence, disability studies, health and social care, childhood studies, history, human geography, economics, psychology, physical activity, nutrition and health sciences, based within seven specialist research centres.

The Norah Fry Research Centre for Disability Studies is a leading national centre of excellence for applied social research and teaching, making a positive difference to the lives of disabled people. The centre explores policies, practices or societal issues from the point of view of people with disabilities, recognising and valuing their human rights.  

Our research examines policy areas that affect us all in day-to-day life, influences and challenges policies implemented by governments and institutions, and investigates the issues, factors and attitudes underlying the social concerns that make the headlines every day.

The school is an exciting environment for graduate studies; we welcome graduate students from the UK and around the world to join our diverse and highly-rated research team. We particularly welcome applications on topics with direct relevance to national and international policy and social work concerns.

Fees for 2022/23

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022/23 are as follows:

UK: full-time
£4,565
UK: part-time
£2,283
Overseas: full-time
£19,500

Following the recent changes to fee assessment regulation, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students will no longer be charged a separate tuition fee. From the 2021/22 academic year they will be charged the same fees as Home students.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2022/23

Applicants may apply for funding from the University of Bristol scholarship fund or alumni PhD scholarship fund. Also, candidates for a Disability Studies PhD can apply for social work or social policy disciplinary studentships from the ESRC, which may encompass disability interests.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree and a pass at MSc/MA level (or equivalent experience/qualification).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile C
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

The Norah Fry Research Centre is a leading international centre specialising in research with and for disabled adults, children and their families. The centre is known for its work to include people with intellectual disabilities in the research process, as well as the development of accessible, easy-to-understand information and the dissemination of research findings in multiple formats to different audiences.

Careers

Studying for a PhD in Disability Studies will equip you with a broad range of research knowledge and skills, both within the disability field and beyond. As a result, what you learn when focusing on disability-related issues and developing skills in analysis and research will be relevant to vocational or non-vocational work in many different settings and topic areas.

Obtaining a PhD is a route into an academic post, either within a higher education institution or in a public sector or research enterprise.

Previous graduates have gone on to work for universities, public sector bodies, third sector organisations, self-advocacy and user-led organisations, local government or education. Their roles have been strongly related to applied social research.

Staff profiles

Norah Fry Research Centre

Professor David Abbott, (Professor), Disabled children living in residential settings; issues for disabled children and young people and their families; making transitions to adulthood; multi-agency working.

Dr Sandra Dowling BA (London), MA (ELond), PhD (Ulster), (Lecturer in Disability Studies)

Dr Rob Green, Assessment, learning and intervention; dimensions of social and emotional development; multi-agency working; psychological dimensions of interpersonal communication.

Professor Pauline Heslop, (Professor), Health and related issues; morbidity and mortality in people with intellectual disabilities; poverty and social disadvantage; young people with intellectual disabilities and transitions.

Dr Jak Lee, (Teaching Fellow, Senior Lecturer), Coaching psychology; school improvement and organisational development; whole-school procedures for supporting pupils with social and behavioural difficulties, and for emotional health and mental well-being. 

Mrs Beth Tarleton, (Senior Research Fellow), Supporting adults with learning disabilities; transition, short breaks (respite care), easy information and supported housing.

Apply now

Find out how to apply

Application deadline:

We welcome applications at any time of year; early application is advised.

For details and deadlines of ESRC PhD studentship applications, please visit the SWDTP website (SWDTP website.)

Open days and visits

Watch on-demand recordings from November's virtual open week.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Senior Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 954 6785 Email: sps-pgadmissions@bristol.ac.uk

PhD Admissions Tutor Phone: +44 (0) 117 954 6785 Email: sps-pgadmissions@bristol.ac.uk

School for Policy Studies
University of Bristol
8 Priory Road
Bristol
BS8 1TZ
School website: School for Policy Studies

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

REF 2014 results

  • Social Work and Social Policy:
  • 38% of research is world-leading (4*)
  • 42% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
  • 18% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
  • 2% of research is recognised nationally (1*)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Disclaimer

Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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