Empirical Studies in Law: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership - Collaborative Studentship 2023: Digital Restorative Approaches in Wales (RS256)

Closing date: 3 February 2023 (12:00pm GMT)

Key Information

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Begin your postgraduate research journey at Swansea University: 86% of our research quality is ‘world- leading and internationally excellent’. We provide a welcoming environment for PhD researchers with specialist training, advice and development opportunities. As an ESRC Wales DTP researcher, you will also benefit from cohort-based networking events and dedicated ESRC Wales DTP student representatives at each campus.

Swansea University values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.

Funding providers: This project is a collaboration between Swansea University and the Wales Restorative Justice Partnership (WRAP), co-funded by the ESRC Wales DTP and Health & Care Research Wales (HCRW).

Subject areas: Socio-Legal Studies / Empirical Studies in Law

Project start dates: 

  • 1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-September)


  • Dr Sara Correia (Swansea University, Law)
  • Professor Matt Jones (Swansea University, Computer Science)
  • Dr Gideon Calder (Swansea University, Social Policy)

Aligned programme of study: PhD in Law

Mode of study: Full or part-time study is possible.

Project description:

Today’s perpetual crisis (BLM, Brexit, Covid19, inflation…) brings injustices and the need for dialogue into focus. Restorative approaches (RA) enable individuals and communities to develop the skills to pre-empt and respond to conflict and harm, while acknowledging trauma (1,2). In Wales, RA are used to build resilience and repair relationships in schools, families and housing contexts. Within the criminal justice system, victims are entitled to Restorative Justice, a type of RA, as an alternative and/or alongside the traditional justice process. It plays a role in rehabilitation, reducing re-offending and is central to youth justice. However, RA necessitate reflection and dialogue which, in a digital society, presents challenges and opportunities. Our aims are to explore how digital restorative practices (DRA) are evolving and how co-production and trauma-informed approaches can shape DRA.

The use of digital technology in restorative contexts (referred to as DRA) expanded during the COVID19 pandemic e.g., to facilitate mediation, virtual circles, specialist support and training (3–5). Indeed, technology has the potential to improve the sustainability and accessibility of interventions, help evidence ‘what works’, improve awareness of services and address misconceptions of RA (6–8). Beyond the traditional intervention model, technology could empower restorative communities to self-direct. Nonetheless, there are significant challenges associated with the integration of digital tools, including concerns regarding their misuse, digital exclusion, confidentiality, data security and building trust (9). Additionally, restorative practices should create opportunities for participants to connect and collaboratively re-construct their shared lived experience. Whether and how this can be achieved in a world dominated by instant and digitally mediated interaction, including online harms, needs investigation.

Using a mixed-methods socio-legal approach, this proposal sets out to meet three objectives [1] explore stakeholder experiences of the use of digital technology for the delivery of RA in England and Wales, [2] explore how co-production and trauma-informed approaches can shape DRA, plus [3] identify best practice and propose a model to aid practitioners in determining whether and how technology should be used. A baseline survey of practitioners is suggested, followed by focus groups with practitioners and community participants, to explore how and whether digital technology is used and experienced, vis-à-vis restorative principles and participants rights. Community participants may include adults engaged in Restorative Justice programmes, as well as young people taking part in school-based restorative initiatives. These methods may be complemented by an evaluation of the impact of specific technology use-cases, through a case-study approach.

The supervision team and research partners:

This project is a collaboration between a cross-disciplinary team at Swansea University and the Wales Restorative Justice Partnership (WRAP), co-funded by the ESRC Wales DTP and Health & Care Research Wales (HCRW).

Dr Correia has a foundation in Restorative Justice (RJ) and her previous work includes mixed methods and digital victimisation/exclusion. Prof. Jones’ work has shaped the field of Mobile Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience. Dr Calder has taught RJ and his areas of research expertise include childhood and social justice, and the theory and practice of co-production. This interdisciplinary supervision team proposed an approach of co-production using mixed methods.

WRAP helped identify and shape the challenges for practice and research gaps this proposal addresses and which HCRW has agreed to match-fund. They will facilitate access to data, research participants and contribute to supervision meetings on a quarterly basis, ensuring the student receives stakeholder feedback on their research and its potential relevance/application to policy and practice. The researcher will have the opportunity to access training and complete a three-month internship/shadowing with WRAP, to contribute to ongoing projects and gain a better understanding of their work. The researcher will also benefit from the opportunity to present work at stakeholder events accessible via WRAP’s wider network and develop knowledge-sharing resources for use by stakeholders.

About the Candidate:

You think this may be for you? Here’s what we are looking for in an ideal candidate:

  • Someone passionate about research, Restorative Approaches, innovative uses of digital technologies and/or co-design methodologies.
  • Someone who sees the value of working collaboratively with stakeholders and across disciplines.
  • Given the nature of the topic, someone able to demonstrate strong inter-personal skills and empathy.
  • A commitment to excellence in research and research ethics.
  • Previous training/experience in restorative approaches will be an advantage!

Both flexibility and a high degree of self-motivation will be necessary to complete the PhD within the period of candidature.


ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a first- or strong upper-second-class degree, or equivalent recognised by Swansea University (please consult https://www.swansea.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/entry-requirements/); applications from those also holding a relevant research training master’s degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a ‘+3’ /PhD award.

English language requirements: if applicable, a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5 (with a score of no less than 6.5 in any individual component) or Swansea University-recognised equivalent is required. For more details, please read the University’s English language entry policy

A fully-funded Wales DTP studentship is available to both UK and international (including EU and EEA) students. All applicants will be eligible for a full award consisting of a maintenance stipend and payment of tuition fees at the UK research organisation rate. Applicants must satisfy studentship eligibility requirements. For further details, please see the UKRI website. Successful international student applicants will receive a fully-funded Wales DTP studentship and will not be charged the fees difference between the UK and international rate. 

Pending qualification study: to meet Swansea University's concurrent study regulations, current study is required to be awarded/completed (as appropriate) prior to the course/scholarship start date. Please note that this date supersedes any current course of study schedule/submission deadlines.

NB: If you are holding a non-UK degree, please see Swansea University degree comparisons to find out if you meet the eligibility.  

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email pgrscholarships@swansea.ac.uk with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in. 


The studentship provides the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend. There will be additional funds available for research expenses.

Studentship awards commence in October 2023 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £17,668 per annum for 2022/23 for full-time students, updated each year) and include access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). 

A ‘1+3’ studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), completing a research training master’s in the first year, followed by 3 years’ research funding for a PhD. A ‘+3’ studentship provides funding for the three years of PhD research study only (or part-time equivalent).

There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

  1. Course choice – please select Law / PhD / Full-time / 3 Year / October

    In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email pgrscholarships@swansea.ac.uk where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

  2. Start year – please select 2023
  3. Funding (page 8) –
  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS256 - Digital ESRC DTP’

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email):

  • CV should be no longer than two pages.
  • Academic / professional qualifications. Please provide copies of certificates and transcripts.
  • A cover letter. Please address to Dr Sara Correia. The covering letter must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Swansea University, and on the Empirical Studies in Law pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly of those relating to your proposed research. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please specify whether you wish to apply on a ‘+3’ or ‘1+3’ basis. Remember also to specify that your application concerns ESRC Wales DTP general studentships and include in your application the name(s) of your prospective supervisor(s).
  • Two references. All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves, and submit the references with their application.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Monitoring Form (please note that the data provided in this form will be separated from your application and will not be utilised as part of assessment or decision making processes)
  • Research proposal. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1,000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
    • Title, aims and purpose of the research;
    • Brief overview of the academic literature relevant to your field;
    • Proposed design / methods;
    • Academic contributions of your research;
    • Bibliographic references.

Please note that incomplete applications – or applications that are received after the specified deadline – will not be accepted.

The deadline for applications is 12:00pm (GMT) on 3 February 2023.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview; interviews are expected to take place in February and March 2023. Following the interviews, a final shortlist of nominated applicants will be forwarded to a panel that is convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group and at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. 

Please note that a nomination from Swansea University post-interview is no guarantee of a final studentship offer – and a nomination is not an offer of a place. All final decisions on the allocation of studentships are made by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group; in most cases, successful applicants can expect to hear in April 2023.

Informal enquiries are welcome and should be directed to Dr Sara Correia-Hopkins (s.correia@swansea.ac.uk). 

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.