Collaborating with us

The ESRC is ‘keen to promote partnership and research collaborations between our postgraduate students and non-academic organisations’.

As an ESRC-funded consortium, the NWSSDTP is committed to advancing collaborative working through studentships, internships and workshops and should make a distinct contribution to both the student and the partner organisation, generating both intellectual and practical benefits and outcomes. Partners span the public, private and third sector.

These partnerships can be extremely beneficial for our students’ research and future careers; organisations that we partner with also benefit greatly, as our students are engaged, enthusiastic, and bring with them the cutting-edge ideas and aspirational spirit that embodies the universities that make up the NWSSDTP.

For example, collaboration can:

  • Bridge gaps between academic and non HEI partner
  • Identify policy needs
  • Provide possible membership of advisory or expert groups
  • Offer informal links via seminars and workshops
  • Lead to improved understanding of how research can translate into policy
  • Increase quality of evidence for partner
  • Broaden scope to generate robust research findings
  • Potentially shape your career path 

Placements and collaborative partnerships are flexible in nature and can be built around a student’s individual circumstances.

We are keen to do more to build and maintain these collaborative relationships. Please contact the NWSSDTP if you are based in a non-academic organisation in the private, public or third sector and would like an informal and exploratory discussion about the possibilities.

CASE Studentships

The NWSSDTP CASE Studentships provide an opportunity for PhD students to gain first-hand experience of work outside an academic environment, with the student working on a doctoral project supported by both expert academic supervisors and a co-supervisor from a non-HEI partner organisation.


As an NWSSDTP funded student in the doctoral element of the award, there is the opportunity to undertake an internship and take advantage of all of the benefits this offers. If a student is successful in applying for an internship in a non-academic organisation in the public, private or third sector, they are granted a paid extension to their PhD, equal to the length of the internship (between 1 and 6 months). The internship does not need to be related to their research, and many interns have reported that the experience has given them a new perspective on, and renewed vigour for, their PhD.

Benefits can include networking opportunities, developing first hand knowledge of how organisations work, and building transferable skills including report writing, communication, time management and teamworking. It can also help PhD candidates stand out when applying for jobs both within and outside academia.

What are the benefits of these collaborative partnerships?

What our students’ supervisors say…

“We were always confident both in terms of strategic outcomes, such as access and preparation to key datasets used in [the student’s] research… also in the less tangible benefits of placements – opportunities to develop networks, to apply and develop skills in different but related work, to discuss and present your work to others.”

Dr Mark Brown

Dr Michael Mair: “it has given [the student] experience of working collaboratively… of developing his own ideas… has sharpened his understanding of the real-world impact of research by broadening his field of vision about how research can make a difference.”

Dr Maria Pampaka: “this placement experience, which significantly contributed to her development as a researcher as well as expansion of her network.”

Dr Lukasz Stanek: “[the student] benefited from the placement… in multiple ways. This included the advancement of his PhD research (interviews, archival sources), ideas about the relevance (and possible impact) of his work for current debates in urban planning and policy, and rethinking of his career prospects.”

What our students say…

“The internship was a great experience – fun and useful to do. The people were welcoming, the tasks/projects meaningful to do, and the experience gained useful for the future.”

Andrew McKendrick, Lancaster University, Economics

Eleanor Perrin (University of Liverpool): “The internship scheme can be a valuable tool to deliver impact beyond the confines of the PhD. It offers an opportunity to make research accessible to non-academic audiences.”

Andrea Lisette Aparicio Castro (University of Manchester): “This scheme offers the opportunity to learn practical aspects of the area of study… strengthening academic and professional networks.”

Anna Sanders (University of Manchester): “the internship was also a great chance to meet other PhD interns… many of whom I have stayed in touch with since my placement ended… all had emphasised how beneficial the placement had been for their own research.”

Watch the video below, in which Dr Robyn Dowlen reflects on her CASE Studentship experience with Manchester Camerata.

Want to find out how your organisation could get involved in a CASE studentship or an internship?

About the NWSSDTP

The North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP) was established in 2017 and is a consortium of four universities in the North West of England – Keele University, Lancaster University, University of Liverpool and University of Manchester.

Our goal is to increase the number of external partners we work with, for the benefit of both our students and those organisations that they will work with.

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