Funded PhD: SGSAH ARCS Recruitment Advert

We are recruiting for a 3.5-year fully funded collaborative PhD position at Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh) and University of Aberdeen, collaborating with Imaginate, the national organisation that promotes, develops and celebrates theatre and dance for children and young people in Scotland. Imaginate also produces the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival each year.

Application deadline: Monday, 19th June, 12 noon.

Proposed PhD Title:

Putting children’s rights at the heart of cultural policy and practice: Case study of Imaginate

The Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities (SGSAH)’s Applied Research Collaborative Studentships (ARCS) fund doctoral research projects that are developed in collaboration with external organisations across the creative sectors in Scotland. The projects are designed and supervised by at least two higher education institutions (HEIs) and at least one other partner. Additionally, ARCS provide opportunities for doctoral students to gain first-hand professional experience outside the university environment. The support provided by both an HEI and non-HEI supervisor enhances the training a research student gains during the course of their award, as well as employment-focused skills.

We are recruiting for a PhD candidate as part of this scheme to be supervised by Prof. Rebecca Finkel at Queen Margaret University, Prof. Eleanora Belfiore at University of Aberdeen, and Fiona Ferguson, Creative Development Director at Imaginate. Imaginate is exploring how the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) can be integrated into organisational strategy and practice.

This project focuses on the incorporation of the UNCRC and how its principles can expand Imaginate’s relationship and work with children and young people. This research project examines Imaginate as a site of change, producing a methodological model setting out key steps, indicators, successes, and challenges to the incorporation of the UNCRC within Imaginate’s core work. As an outcome of the project, this model will be platformed and shared across the cultural sector and beyond. The main research question: How does putting children’s rights at the heart of cultural policy and practice have an impact on an arts organisation in terms of organisational structures, process, and working practices?

Along with supervision expertise, skills training and scholarly support from the Graduate Schools at both Queen Margaret University and University of Aberdeen, the PhD candidate will be provided with desk space in Imaginate’s office to use as a base for the duration of their research. Imaginate staff will support and advise them around engaging with partner schools and community organisations, and the candidate will have access to Imaginate resources and the opportunity to meet regularly with staff.


Application Information

Applicants should apply via the University’s admissions portal

Applicants should state: “Putting children’s rights at the heart of cultural policy and practice:
Case study of Imaginate” and the research supervisor (Rebecca Finkel and Eleonora Belfiore) in their application and Research Proposal document.

Complete applications submitted by June 19th 2023 (12noon) will receive full consideration; after that date, applications will be considered until the position is filled. The anticipated start date is 25th September 2023. Interviews will be held in-person on June 26th 2023 (online interviews are welcome for those outwith Edinburgh).

Queen Margaret University, University of Aberdeen, and Imaginate strive to be open and welcoming and organisations where different voices can flourish. We all have a commitment to accessibility and equality and are keen to recruit a candidate who feels their voice is under-represented. If there are any specific access requirements, including providing BSL, captioning or external mentors, you need in order to apply for and/or in order to fulfil the position, please let us know.

Who can apply?

Candidate’s profile

  • A good bachelor’s degree (2.1 or above, or international equivalent) and a master’s degree in a relevant subject (Events/Festival Management, Cultural studies, Creative Industries or related subject)
  • Experience with and interest in research methodologies and methods in arts and cultural sectors
  • Proficiency in English (both oral and written an IELTS test may be required for International applicants)
  • A strong research proposal (1000 words max) detailing their background, initial research design as well as any skills they can bring to the project
  • Two supportive references (at least one academic reference)

How to apply

An overview of the PhD course is provided via the PhD course page. Guidance on applying for the PhD is provided here.

You can apply to this opportunity online using the Admissions Portal (accessed via the 'Apply Now' button at the bottom of this section). The application process includes completion of an application form and submission of supporting documentation, including a research proposal.

The online application form allows you to save your progress, and you will be able to complete your PhD application in multiple stages, if required.

Following submission of your completed application, you will receive a QMU applicant ID number. Please quote this in any correspondence you have with QMU.

Application form

Please pay close attention to the spelling of your email address within the online form, as this is how we will contact you about your application.

Please ensure you select the appropriate course relating to the SGSAH bursary.

Supporting information and documents

As part of your application, you will need to write a personal statement that sets out your experience, suitability for doctoral study, and motivation for applying to study on the QMU PhD programme.

As part of your application, you will need to provide:

  • your PhD research proposal;
  • copies of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • confirmation of your English language ability (if required); and
  • copies of two letters of reference.
  • A personal statement describing your background, suitability for the PhD, and research interests (max 1,000 words).

You will be able to upload these supporting documents as part of the application process. This is an important part of the admissions process, and without seeing supporting documents tutors will not have enough information to make a decision on your application. If you are currently undertaking a Masters or Honours Degree and therefore, don't yet have your transcript or certificate for this course, these can be provided at a later date following the submission of your application.

PhD Research Proposal

All applicants to the QMU PhD programme must provide a proposal for research that has academic merit and is capable of generating new knowledge. We will use your research proposal to check how well you understand the research process

Your PhD research proposal should:

  • be a maximum of 1000 words long;
  • summarise what the research is about;
  • set out why the research is important, making reference to current literature;
  • identify provisional research questions; and
  • suggest how the research questions can be investigated.

Please note that the research proposal must be written in your own words and should NOT include text that has been copied from books or articles. This is considered plagiarism and will lead to the automatic rejection of your application. In some cases, academic reviewers may submit research proposals to Turnitin in order to verify the legitimacy of the proposed research.

Qualifications (certificates and transcripts)

Please upload copies of your degree certificates and transcripts for any undergraduate or Masters degrees that you have completed or are about to complete.

Evidencing English language ability

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an IELTS certificate or have completed a degree which was delivered and assessed in English within the last five years.

Only valid IELTS certificates are accepted as evidence of English language capability.  You need a score of 6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in each element).  IELTS certificates are valid for two years after the test date.

If you completed a degree, at a non-UK institution, that was delivered and assessed in English, then you will need to provide a formal letter from the institution, on headed paper, stating that your degree was delivered and assessed in English. 

If your documents are in any language other than English then they will need to be accompanied by a formal certified translation into English, by either the awarding institution or a sworn translator.


Two references are required.  At least one of these should be academic.

Referees must provide your reference in the form of a formal letter on headed paper. The reference must be dated and signed (and ideally stamped). Please note that we may contact your referee to verify the reference letter prior to it being accepted.

Referee contact details should include a professional email account. Please do not provide personal email addresses for referees (such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo), as these will not be accepted.  


The deadline for applications is 19 June 2023 at 12 noon (BST)

Apply Now



For more information, please contact QMU’s Graduate School at or Dr Stefanie Van de Peer at

Please contact if you have any queries about the application process.