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Critical literacy among working class and migrant communities in the North of England

About this project

These scholarships will inaugurate the Richard Hoggart Centre for Cultural Studies at the University of Hull.  Richard Hoggart was a foundational figure in the discipline of cultural studies and spent over a decade of his early career teaching at the University of Hull.  He wrote his most influential work, The Uses of Literacy, whilst teaching at Hull.  The Richard Hoggart Centre for Comparative Studies aims to consolidate existing semi-formal collaborations between scholars at the University of Hull who are all engaged with the discipline of cultural studies.  At its heart, cultural studies aims to examine cultural texts and forms as politically and socially embedded phenomena that can both inspire social justice and reinforce dominant ideologies.  Cultural studies is a mixed-methods approach to the politics of culture, and incorporates elements of literary criticism, cultural theory, film studies, education studies, American Studies, cultural history and critical theory (among other disciplines).  The successful candidates for these scholarships will be expected to play a central role in both the administration and intellectual life of the Hoggart Centre 

Critical literacy among working class and migrant communities in the North of England

Critical literacy - the learned ability to develop a critical perspective towards contested texts - has regained significance in an increasingly volatile socio-political climate. ‘Brexit’, surging populism, ‘fake news’ opinion making, the liminality and marginalisation of working class and migrant communities, have placed new emphasis on ‘critical literacy education’ as an agent for positive social change. In the UK context, post-industrial urban working-class adults, including members of migrant communities, have been frequently labelled as ‘victims of the knowledge economy’, confronted with educational, social or economic immobility and lack of opportunities. This is accompanied by diagnoses that previously well-established informal adult education networks have largely vanished, thus potentially eradicating critical literacies within these communities.

This project re-evaluates ‘critical literacy education’ as an agent for social and cultural change in the North of England. It envisages informal, community-based educational initiatives that mobilise critical literacy, learning, and civic engagement among seemingly disengaged urban communities. The PhD scholarship - through an emphasis on critical literacy - will bring up-to-date the central role of (adult and community) education, will investigate real and perceived social and educational inequalities and will evaluate cultural literacy and engagement in increasingly diverse and multi-ethnic urban communities in the North of England.


You are strongly advised to contact a potential supervisor and to discuss your research proposal, well before you submit an application. Please refer to the Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education's research pages.

For further information regarding this project please contact Dr Simon Willmets.

Next steps


To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering a full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship or International Fees Bursary.

Entry requirements

We welcome research proposals from suitable candidates who may have backgrounds in education, cultural studies, anthropology, sociolinguistics.  

This scholar will be supervised primarily by American Studies and Film Studies members of the Hoggart Centre, although interdisciplinary and mixed-methods approaches to the subject of race, surveillance and its representation in cultural texts/forms is encouraged.   

Applicants should have at least a 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant field. A 1st class undergraduate degree or Masters level qualification is desireable. 

How to apply

Applications for scholarship consideration at the University of Hull should be made through the Postgraduate Application system.

On the second page of your application, please select “Graduate Scholarship” as the type of scholarship you are applying for. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to first identify and contact a potential supervisor.

Apply now

Application deadline: Monday 19 February


Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2017/18) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependent on satisfactory progress.