Deadline: 1 June 2021

The ‘platform economy’, which enables individuals to sell their labour via mediated digital platforms, has grown rapidly in recent years and analysing its social relevance has become an expanding field of research. In general, however, these workers have been understood in isolation, with research focusing largely on experiences with particular platforms rather than with the broader networks of global production within which they may be implicated.

This ESRC WRDTP Associated Studentship is located in the ESRC Digital Futures at Work Research centre (Digit). A key focus of Dig.IT will be the UN sustainable development goal (SDG) of decent work, identified as an important global challenge. In this vein, this doctoral research will examine the impact of the role of digital technologies in global production networks in providing good jobs and greater earning power for all. This project connects with ‘Research Theme 1: The Impact of Digitalisation on Work and Employment’, including mapping the impact of digital technologies at work, but will extend this area of interest in a number of ways. First, the student will develop primary empirical data on this area, second, they will go beyond the regional scale in an effort to understand the relationships between specifically located platform workers and global systems of production.

Drawing on research in industrial relations, human resource management, global political economy and the sociology of work and employment, it will explore the extent to which platform workers are involved in global production networks. The aim will be to develop understandings of these workers’ position in GPNs and patterns of outsourcing; workers’ experiences and employment relations; and the degree to which existing governance mechanisms are able to regulate such employment.


Two types of studentship are available depending on the level of social science research training already completed.

1+3 Studentships: an integrated Research Training Masters – MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary – delivering the majority of the core training requirements) followed by a 3-year PhD programme.

+3 Studentships: 3-year PhD (applicants must demonstrate that they have already completed substantial social sciences training in research methods which would enable them to undertake an independent research project in a particular discipline or interdisciplinary field. An applicant must have at least 60 credits at Masters level of core social sciences research methods acquired in the last five years. This must include a broad range of methods, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods and the use of appropriate software/tools for their application, and comprehension of principles of research design and strategy, and an appreciation of alternative approaches to research).

Information about the Award

  • This competition is open to UK applicants only. One studentship will be awarded.


  • The award will cover full fees at the University of Leeds standard UK rate of fees.
  • A maintenance grant at the standard UKRI rate (£15,609 in Session 2021/22).

Other Conditions

  • Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.
  • 1+3 awards must be taken up in September 2021 and +3 awards must be taken up by 1st October 2021.
  • Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this Studentship.

For further information, please view the full studentship posting on the Leeds University Business School website.

Funding Information

Funding applies to:

UK applicants.

We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BAME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Application Deadline:

1 June 2021

Please see our website for how to apply:
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