About SeNSS

SeNSS focusses on three things in particular

  1. Our rigorous training programme makes the most of our members' diverse specialisms and offers our students a wide array of subject-specific as well as advanced training opportunities. SeNSS offers the highest-calibre supervision, driven by our members' emphasis on formal training and research culture. 
     
  2. We support our researchers in producing their cutting edge exploration of the most challenging social science issues of our day. In particular, we do this through promoting interdisciplinary research networks, focusing on key social challenges and the role of social science in addressing these, and an emphasis on research impact, and engaging with senior research users and practitioners. 
     
  3. Sponsoring more and better ways for researcher user and practitioners to harness social science research. in particular, we organise formal PhD student placements with external organisations, host collaborative research involving external partners, and convene a forum for senior research users and practitioners to support new innovations in research collaboration.

Governance Structure

SeNSS diagram.jpg

Strategy Board

The SeNSS Strategy Board consists of each partner institution’s Pro-Vice Chancellor/Deputy Vice-Chancellor, or equivalent. The Board meets once a year, and is responsible for ensuring that SeNSS is adhering to its grant terms, and for monitoring SeNSS’s performance against what was promised in the ESRC funding bid.

Management Board

The Management Board (MB) consists of the ten senior academic leads representing each partner institution; the ten senior administrative representatives for each partner institution; the student representatives; and the SeNSS core team – the Director, Deputy Director, the Manager, the Training Manager, and the Co-ordinator. It meets at least three times a year, and is responsible for overseeing the running of the DTP, including: governance; policy and strategy; allocation of studentships; and monitoring and reviewing training and student progress. It also develops and implements a collective Social Science strategy for SeNSS and ensures that it reflects and informs institutional research strategies alongside the ESRC’s vision for doctoral training.

Operational group

The Operational Group is chaired by the Manager, and consists of senior administrative leads from each of the ten partner institutions, the Manager, the Co-ordinator and, when appropriate, the Training Manager. It meets least three times a year, as well as after each Management Board meeting. The Operational Group is responsible for the underlying processes and systems of the DTP, and supporting the Director and Management Board in the successful delivery of the DTP. For example, this work includes advising on and organising studentship competitions and processes, and ensuring administrative coordination across all ten partner institutions.

Training, Employability and Development Group (TED)

The TED Group is chaired by the Deputy Director, and consists of academics with specialist training backgrounds, and training, careers and technology enhance learning specialists, as well as the Training Manager.

The TED Group meets at least 3 times a year, and is responsible for co-ordinating core and subject based training across the consortium. It has specific responsibility for monitoring and reviewing the progress of the pathways, identifying training needs, and designing innovative interdisciplinary and advanced training.

External Innovation Group (EIG)

The EIG consists is chaired by the Director, and includes a representative from specific external partners, as well as the Deputy Director, and the Training Manager. The EIG meets twice a year, and is responsible for providing advice on the strategic needs of research users and practitioners; identifying and responding to fresh strategic collaboration opportunities; and extending the role SeNSS students are able to play among research users and practitioners. individual registration at a partner university of the DTP and should generally follow the procedures of that university.

Student Forum

The SeNSS Student Forum (SF) consists of student representatives and provides a platform for student discussion and feedback on process and procedure, as well as a focus for student-led activities and initiatives. The SF elects its own Chair, who sits on the Management Board, and meets twice a year. The SF has specific responsibility for organising the annual Summer Conference, in consultation with the Training, Employability and Development Group and the SeNSS core team.

Pathway Groups (Subject Groups)

SeNSS has thirteen Pathway Groups, each of which consists of subject specialists (termed Pathway Institutional Leads) from each SeNSS partner institution involved in that Pathway. The Pathway Groups meet at least twice a year, and work closely with and report to the Training, Employability and Development Group. Each Pathway Group is responsible for its own training pathway, which it meets to review on a regular basis. Pathway Groups play an important role in the studentship competitions. These Groups also discuss wider research and knowledge exchange activities, cohort development across pathway and inter-disciplinary initiatives.

Direction and administration

The day-to-day management and administration of SeNSS will be conducted by the University of Essex, as the co-ordinating institution. The SeNSS core staffing team includes:

  • The Director;
  • The Deputy Director, who is also the Chair of the Training,Employability, and Development Group. The Deputy Director is the only member of staff not to be based at Essex;
  • The Manager;
  • The Training Manager; and,
  • The Co-ordinator.

The Director

The Director provides leadership for the consortium, and works with the support of the Manager, Management Board and Operational Group to develop the strategic and operational plans for SeNSS. The Director liaises with the ESRC on behalf of SeNSS, and attends ESRC Troika and DTP Director Meetings. The Director reports to and is advised by the Management Board and the Strategy Board.

The Deputy Director

The Deputy Director (DD) supports the Director in their work, and stands in for the Director whenever required. The DD chairs the Training, Employability and Development Group, which supports and advises the DD, and has primary responsibility for overseeing these aspects of SeNSS’s work. The Deputy Director reports to, and is advised by, the Management Board.

The Manager

The day-to-day work is led by the Manager, who provides high-level administrative support to ensure the smooth running of SeNSS, including organising the allocation of funding, controlling finances and overseeing budgets, maintaining systems and the SeNSS website, marketing and advertising, co-ordinating the studentship competition, co-ordinating other internal competitions as required, and monitoring and reporting SeNSS’s performance. The Manager chairs the Operational Group, which advises the Manager in their work. The Manager works closely with administrative leads and finance contacts at partner institutions.

The Coordinator

The Co-ordinator works closely with the Manager to ensure that SeNSS’s administrative functions run smoothly. The Co-ordinator is the first point of contact for any administrative and student queries, and has responsibility for maintaining and updating the SeNSS website.

The Training Manager

The Training Manager has two main roles: first, they deputise for the Manager, whenever required; and, second, they work closely with the Deputy Director and the Training, Employability and Development Group to deliver SeNSS’s training programmes.


ESRC funding

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the largest UK funding organisation for research and postgraduate training in the economic and social sciences. The ESRC’s focus is on funding excellent and independent social science which has impact.

The principal objective of the ESRC’s postgraduate training strategy is to deliver excellence in postgraduate training by building on the considerable strengths that exist across the social science community. The ESRC aims to support the development of highly capable and innovative researchers for a wide range of careers. In order to achieve this objective, the ESRC is funding 14 Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) across the UK which will replace the 22 Doctoral Training Centres it had previously funded. More information on the DTP network is available here.  The ESRC’s studentship budget will support 494 studentships each year across the DTPs.

SeNSS submitted a bid to the ESRC for DTP funding in March 2016, and was awarded a DTP in July 2016. The ESRC DTP funding grant awarded to SeNSS covers six cohorts of students, and pays for these students’ fees and maintenance stipends (where students qualify for a stipend). The DTP grant also provides funds for supporting ESRC-funded students’ research training (RTSG – including additional training, fieldwork and conference attendance), overseas fieldwork, internships with non-academic organisations, and for encouraging and supporting cohort building (SCDF).

 In addition, the ESRC will fund 50 Postdoctoral Fellowships annually through the DTP network (provide links to: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/skills-and-careers/postgraduate-careers/early-career-researchers/ , as well as the SeNSS PDF page).