PhD Studentship Opportunities in Island Migration

Growing Scotland’s Islands: Can the National Islands Plan stimulate a population turnaround? 

An opportunity has arisen for two fully funded PhD studentships on the topic of contemporary migration to Scotland’s islands. Building on existing research on rural migration, resilience and mobilities, the successful candidates will undertake in-depth studies of the aspirations and lived experiences of working age, in-migrant islanders (whether new or returning) to explore the opportunities and barriers they encounter. Framed within the aspirations of Scotland’s National Islands Plan which include a desire to increase population levels in the Scottish islands and to ensure a healthy, balanced population profile, the studentships will provide academic insights and evidence of relevance to policy-makers and others seeking to influence the demographic fortunes of remote and island communities.

The successful candidates will be jointly hosted by the Department of Geography and Environment, School of Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen and the Department of Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences at the James Hutton Institute. One studentship is funded by the ESRC through the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) and is open to both home and international applicants.  One is funded by the Macaulay Development Trust and may be awarded to a candidate eligible for home fees.

Further information about the project is available via the SGSSS at The link includes information about how to apply.  All applications submitted via the SGSSS application system will automatically be considered for both the ESRC and MDT funded studentships. Informal enquiries to the supervisory team are encouraged in advance of submitting an application. 

Eligibility: Applicants must hold either a Masters degree or a first or upper-second class Honours degree in Geography or a cognate discipline (such as Sociology, Anthropology, Rural Planning). Home and international candidates may apply.

Closing date for applications: 31st March 2021

Start date: October 2021

Duration: +3 or 1+3 depending on prior research training (as set out in ESRC guidance)

Stipend: UKRI rate (£15,609 in 2021/22)

Supervisory team: Dr Ruth Wilson (, Dr Paula Duffy (, Dr Lorna Philip ( and Dr Margaret Currie (

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