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Collaborative 3 year PhD studentship provided by English Bridge Education and Development, UK and Irish Bridge Unions and University of Stirling, commencing Autumn 2018

Bridging the Gap: An Exploration of Transitions in Play through the Lifecourse

The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling are seeking a potential PhD candidate for the first ever doctoral research project on bridge. This fully-funded PhD studentship offers an exciting opportunity to contribute to the development of a new innovative academic field: the Sociology of Bridge.

The available funding covers PhD fees for 3 years, plus living expenses of £14, 777 per year and a fieldwork allowance. Students of any nationality are able to apply (although fees are higher for non-EU students): ideally they will have a masters, or a very good undergraduate degree, preferably within the social sciences or a related discipline. Some bridge knowledge is desirable, but by no means essential.

The results of this research studentship will be beneficial to the wider bridge community, providing insights into why people play, as well as what helps and hinders their learning. The findings will also be used to create resources to promote the mind sport to different age groups and to ensure that those who play are enabled to get as much from the game as possible.

For further information and application details see or (closing date for applications 22 June):

Project summary

Understanding what drives individuals to take up bridge and what keeps people playing across the lifecourse is at the heart of this collaborative research project. Bridge provides a contemporary example to understand the role of leisure and mind sports in developing social capital and well-being through community participation at different stages in the lifecourse.

This study considers the shared practices and social relations which emerge in the process of learning and playing bridge and how these change over the lifecourse. The research relates to the sociological field of intergenerationality by exploring the role a hobby can play in friendships and personal communities as well as how it can create a sense of belonging and collective identity both within and ‘bridging’ across generations.

Qualitative methods including life history interviews and focus groups will be used to engage with people across the lifecourse, exploring the pathways into (and out of) bridge for people of different ages.

Candidate requirements and eligibility

The successful applicant will have:
• A degree level qualification in a social science or related discipline, either an excellent undergraduate degree or Master’s degree
• A track record of excellent performance in previous academic studies
• An interest in qualitative sociological research
• An interest in the research areas and methodologies involved in the project
• Skills in time management and completion of work.

Other desirable attributes include:
• Some knowledge or experience of playing bridge
• Experience and skills in qualitative research methods
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills
• Experience of research or practice with children or older adults
• Knowledge of relevant fields such as childhood or youth studies, the lifecourse, gerontology, lifelong learning, sociology of leisure or mind sports, educational games.

How to Apply

Applications should include a covering letter (referring to the essential and desirable criteria above); a full CV including the names of two referees (at least one referee should be an academic); a transcript of grades achieved during previous university studies; a sample of the candidate’s written academic work; and a short summary (500-1000 words) written by the candidate that explains how they would approach the project’s research. The sample of academic work should be up to 2000 words, comprising a piece of work (or an extract from a longer piece of work), that the candidate has submitted in their previous University studies, and that demonstrates their competency as a prospective PhD candidate. The short summary of how the candidate would approach the research should refer to the project summary and will be used to assess the applicant’s knowledge of the research field and of relevant methodological issues, including the opportunities and challenges involved in this study.

Applicants should send all documentation to by Friday 22nd June.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview in Stirling or via online methods on 9th July.

For further information, please contact Prof Samantha Punch, or tel 01786 467985 (please also contact Sam if you would like an electronic copy of the advert to circulate amongst your networks - many thanks!)

Funding (totaling over £60,000) is provided by the partnership of EBED (English Bridge Education and Development), UK and Irish Bridge Unions and the University of Stirling, Scotland.