Advanced quantitative methods in social science and health

The Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) pathway of the South West Doctoral Training Partnership is based at the University of Bristol. The competition for ESRC-funded +3 and 1+3 PhD studentships for academic year 2021/22 is open now until noon Tuesday 19th January 2021. All applications must be made online. For informal inquiries please email Dr Emmanouil Tranos. Applications from those able to obtain funding from other sources are also welcome.

What is it?

The AQM pathway offers +3 and 1+3 postgraduate research training in the application of advanced quantitative methods in the social sciences and health. The ESRC has designated AQM as a priority area, and the purpose of the pathway is to provide training and supervision that emphasizes quantitative methods to a higher level than is usually offered. Training includes a structured programme of core AQM courses and a fortnightly research and reading group.

Who is it for?

The AQM pathway is for social scientists who wish to learn advanced quantitative methods for secondary-data analysis, and apply these methods appropriately to answer particular substantive questions from their disciplines. This group includes social scientists interested in inter-disciplinary research involving the application of quantitative methods from one discipline (e.g. geography) to problems in another (e.g. economics).

The AQM pathway is also for statistically trained researchers whose interests are more methodological. Projects may involve applying statistical methods used in other disciplines to social science problems, or developing novel statistical methods for analysing social-science data.

Applications are welcome from those with backgrounds in statistics or other related disciplines.

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What are the prerequisites?

AQM is offered as an ESRC 1+3 and +3 pathway. For +3, applicants should have masters level training in a social science discipline, public health or statistics As students will have followed different disciplinary pathways in their masters years of doctoral training, the only prerequisite for AQM is a familiarity with intermediate-level quantitative techniques. For 1+3, the students will be required to demonstrate that their undergraduate course contained a substantial quantitative element (nominally 60 credit points, 30 European Credit Transfers) and that their dissertation included the use of quantitative methods.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are familiar with multiple regression. Students will be selected on the basis of performance in previous quantitative methods courses (e.g. at undergraduate and masters levels). Students will have to provide a reference letter from a tutor who can assess their quantitative skills. It is also important that students have a solid grounding in the substantive discipline to which they wish to apply advanced quantitative methods. It is expected that this will be provided by the masters ‘+1’ phase of their postgraduate training.

When does it start?

Students will be expected to start at the end of September 2021.

Can international students apply?

All applicants from outside the UK are eligible for studentships including fees and stipends because the ESRC has relaxed its rules on eligibility in strategic areas like Advanced Quantitative Methods. However, applicants should check that they satisfy the University of Bristol's English language entry requirements policy.

How many studentships are awarded?

PhD studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis from a pool of 45 SWDTP studentships across the five universities

How do I apply?

  • Work out your substantive research topic and consider what quantitative methods you might need to address your research questions.
  • Before submitting an application, you are encouraged to contact us (email with a brief description of your proposed topic (no more than 1 page). If necessary, then we will put you in touch with the most appropriate supervisor for your topic.
  • Write a full 1000-word proposal.
  • Submit your proposal using the online application form.
  • Some notes on completing the application form for the AQM pathway:

    • In the Programme choice section select Faculty of Social Sciences and Law.
    • For Programme select Advanced Quantitative Methods (PhD).
    • In the Funding section tick UK Research Council.
    • In the Personal statement section make it clear that you wish to apply for the AQM in Social Sciences and Health pathway.
    • Also in your Personal statement, it is important that you give full details of your previous training in quantitative methods/statistics to justify your suitability for this pathway.
    • Your 1000-word proposal should be uploaded in the Research statement section.
    • All applicants are required to provide two references: one of your referees must be qualified to comment on your training and experience in quantitative methods.


  • The application deadline is 1200hrs (GMT) on Tuesday 19th January 2021.
  • Applicants will be notified of the outcome by end April 2021
  • Successful applicants will be expected to start in September/October 2021

What does an ESRC studentship cover?

An ESRC studentship covers University tuition fees plus an annual maintenance stipend to contribute towards living expenses. See the ESRC website for more information. Each studentship also includes a Research Support Grant of £750 per year to encourage students to attend conferences and additional courses external to the University.

Priority areas

We are particularly keen to attract:

  • Proposals that focus on secondary-data analysis
  • Interdisciplinary proposals
  • Applied and methodological proposals in social statistics
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