Partnerships Office

Current ICase PhD Student Vacancies

PhD Title: A realist evaluation of expert practice in care and education services for young people with severe learning disability, autistic spectrum conditions or significant physical impairment.

The studentship is with University of Salford and Birtenshaw.

Academic Supervisor: Professor Tony Long

Academic Co-Supervisor: Dr Annie Wood

Industrial Supervisor: David Reid

The studentship is fully funded and includes:

  • A fee waiver
  • A stipend of £15,824 p.a. for three and a half years
  • All bench fees and consumable costs
  • Funds specifically allocated for conference travel

Final date for applications: Monday 4th May 2020

Interviews will be held on: Date TBC

The candidate must be in a position to register by September 2020


Birtenshaw provides a creative and dynamic range of care and education services for children and adults with special educational needs and disability (SEND). Through Birtenshaw non-maintained special schools (3-19 years) in Bolton and Merseyside, and Birtenshaw College (further education for 16-25 years) education is provided for children and young people with significant physical impairment, complex health needs, learning disability and/or autistic spectrum conditions. While external affirmation of high quality is gained consistently, a dedicated, embedded doctoral student engaged in rigorous evaluation of which practices work best, why this is the case, and what essential contextual factors are at play would raise this to the level of strong research evidence of national and international importance. For this reason, the proposed study proceeds through stages of systematic review of existing evidence; observation, documentary review and reflective interviews; to full realist evaluation; ending with dissemination and setting of hypotheses for further research.


The successful candidate will be embedded in the Birtenshaw organisation, coming to understand its mission and values, while also developing expertise in a range of research methods through training in the university as a member of the CYP@Salford research group.

You will hold a minimum of an upper second class honours degree in area of education, social care, health or psychology, with evidence of completing an empirical research project as part of previous studies or work. A Masters degree with a relevant focus and registration in a regulated profession would be an advantage, as would qualification or experience in special education needs.

Experience of working with vulnerable individuals and evidence of observational and participatory skills is essential. Appointment will be subject to DBS clearance.

As part of your application please provide a CV and covering letter. The research proposal for this project is already designed. Your application should include a brief literature review related to this project, with an outline of what you see as the main challenges in completing the work. The review and reflection should be no more than 5 pages, single line spaced, 11 point, Arial font.

For full details of student requirements and specification please visit:

Funding Eligibility:

This studentship is only available to students with settled status in the UK, as classified by EPSRC eligibility.  Please visit:

Enquiries: Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Tony Long by email:

Curriculum vitae, cover letter explaining your interest, and the review and reflection should be sent to