Postgraduate Research Opportunity

GEMMS studentships


Title: Disrupting the cycle of gendered violence and poor mental health among migrants in precarious situations (GEMMS) 

Funding: A full-time tuition fee waiver, and a doctoral stipend equivalent to the NIHR minimum annual stipend when in the UK and a local stipend during periods of fieldwork outside the UK.

Please note that we will be recruiting 3 successful candidates to this studentship.

Application deadline: 7th November 2022.

Start date: January 2023.

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: School of Health and Social Care


Working with diverse migrant groups in precarious situations in India, Myanmar, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, the GEMMS research group aims to create conceptual and methodological tools and actions to disrupt the damaging cycle of gendered violence and poor mental health for migrant and mobile populations.

The GEMMS research group brings together a range of academics and practitioners with expertise in gender violence, mental health and migration. Our work will generate new knowledge and improved understandings in the field, as well as co-design evidence-informed training interventions and public health solutions to support migrants in precarious situations in South Africa and India, and border spaces in Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

We will focus on the poorly understood link between gendered violence and poor mental and psychosocial health and how these are experienced by migrant and mobile groups. This includes those who are displaced by natural disasters and political conflicts and those who move to find better livelihoods opportunities. These situations are associated with chronic precarity in work and living conditions, barriers to healthcare access, and an increased exposure to violence and burden of ill-health.

Utilising diverse methods with migrants in distinct settings, under three inter-related workstreams, we will examine existing burdens and lived experiences of mental health and gender violence among migrant populations, factors and conditions that underlie these, and how these change across contexts and times. We will utilise a range of methods and co-design approaches, including stakeholder mapping, surveys, interviews, and other Participatory Action Research techniques to address the study questions.

GEMMS is co-designed with partners at TISS, India and Wits, South Africa (SA) and co-led with a Director at the University of Essex (Professor Anuj Kapilashrami, Principal Investigator (PI)) and a Director at Wits University (Associate Professor Jo Vearey, Co-I). Full-time research coordinators are based in TISS and Wits, with a Research Manager based in Essex. 

The studentship

The doctoral programmes will ultimately be designed by successful candidates, their supervisors and the GEMMS team. Elements of the PhD will include:

  • Defining a more focused research project embedded within the larger study
  • Undertaking systematic or scoping review in relation to the specific question being addressed
  • Primary data collection, which may be either qualitative or quantitative in approach
  • Data analysis and presentation
  • Contributing to the life of the project and the institutions at which the candidate spends their time

As part of the PhD Programme, candidates will receive ongoing mentoring and opportunities for dedicated training and capacity building. This includes the opportunity to:

  • work with a dynamic team with diverse and demonstrated experience in supporting the development of doctoral students and Early Career Researchers (ECR)
  • participate in research and training exchanges between institutions in SA/India and UoE, and avail of training opportunities facilitated by Migration Health South Asia Network (MiHSA) and the Migration Health and Development Research Initiative (MHDRI) networks.
  • receive co-supervision by senior members of GEMMS team across partner institutions and UoE.
  • build and support the running of a peer-to-peer exchange and network working with other PhD students and ECRs. 
  • participate in a range of training courses in topics like knowledge exchange, grant writing, open science and research data management, getting started with qualitative and quantitative research data, and research communication and impact. 
  • Receive support and feedback on writing during focused writing retreats.


Students will be registered and start at the University of Essex, with extensive periods of field work in years 2 and 3. You will benefit from a structured training programme offered by UoE and other host institutions TISS and Wits and collaborating partners.

You will be part of a wider team of early career researchers and supervised by experts from across partner institutions. 


The studentship comes with a full-time tuition fee waiver, and a doctoral stipend equivalent to the NIHR minimum annual stipend when in the UK, and a local stipend during periods of fieldwork outside the UK.

We are recruiting 3 candidates for this studentship.


You will be part of a wider team of early career researchers and supervised by experts from across partner institutions.


We are looking for candidates who match the following criteria:

  • Applicants should have a 2.1 or higher Honours degree or international equivalent in health or social sciences
  • Applicants with a Master’s degree and/or experience in a relevant discipline (health related fields or social science discipline), a good knowledge of gender, migration and the southern contexts.
  • Familiarity with quantitative or qualitative methods and data analysis experience.
  • Knowledge of local languages that may be spoken in India, Myanmar, South Africa, or Zimbabwe

You should also be able to demonstrate:

  • Strong academic writing skills
  • Familiarity in using tools for systematic and/or other review methodologies
  • Familiarity with at least one research method, and experience utilising these in the field
  • Familiarity with analysis (quantitative and/or qualitative) software packages.

How to apply

Please apply through our online portal.

You will need to provide the following information and documents:

  • A CV/resume (2 pages maximum).
  • A personal statement (maximum 500 words) in support of your application.
  • A research project proposal (maximum of 1000 words) that explicitly addresses the work you would like to carry out, how it relates to the theme, and it addresses the concerns mentioned in the project details.
  • Contact details of two academic referees.

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put; PhD Public Health (this can also be changed at a later date) with a January 2023 start date.
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship (GEMMS studentship).
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the GEMMS project lead (Professor Anuj Kapilashrami).

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email Professor Anuj Kapilashrami ( and Abigail Fairhall (

The closing date for applications is 7th November 2022. Applications received after this time will not be considered.

The studentship will commence January 2023.