PhD Studentship: Shifting Scrutiny Structures: The Role and Reform of Select Committees in the House of Lords, 2018-2025

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The deadline to apply for this studentship has now passed, and we are no longer accepting applications.

What role does the House of Lords play in scrutinising the executive? How has the scrutiny capacity of the Lords changed or evolved over time? What impact have recent reforms to the select committee system in the House of Lords made, and how does that scrutiny complement the work of select committees in the House of Commons?

These are the key questions that this ‘Shifting Scrutiny Structures’ three-year PhD studentship will explore as part of a broader project to underline the potential role of history, in general, and archival resources, in particular, in supporting contemporary policy-making processes and scrutiny structures. This project is co-funded by the House of Lords and the Special Collections, Heritage, and Archives Department within the University of Sheffield library. Starting in February 2023, this studentship provides a rare opportunity to gain research experience in a legislative context, and as part of a larger and inter-disciplinary team.

With Professor Matthew Flinders (University of Sheffield) as the Primary Supervisor and Professor the Lord Blunkett (University of Sheffield), Professor Felicity Matthews (University of Sheffield), Christopher Clarke (Committee Office, House of Lords) and  Angela Haighton (Head of Special Collections, Heritage, and Archives, University of Sheffield) forming the full supervisory team, this studentship will shed light on the role the House of Lords plays in relation to parliamentary accountability.

In doing so it will fill a significant gap in the existing knowledge base. A huge and significant seam of scholarship exists on the reform, modernisation and effectiveness of select committees in the House of Commons but only recently have select committees in the Lords begun to attract academic interest. The Blunkett Archives, housed in the University of Sheffield library, also provide an unexplored resource dating back almost forty years through which to explore institutional change at Westminster. This studentship will be linked to the Blunkett Archives.

Although the studentship is based at the University of Sheffield the successful applicant will be expected to spend some time being based on secondment in the House of Lords. 

Application details

  • Applicants should have a Masters degree with a distinction or equivalent qualification in the social and political sciences or a cognate field.
  • The successful candidate would ideally have a strong understanding of British politics and legislative studies plus a willingness to work at the intersection of research and policy.
  • An application of a 1-page CV, a 1-page covering letter and an outline research proposal that offers some thoughts and ideas as to how the candidate might approach this topic of research. The outline research proposal is an opportunity for the candidate to not only demonstrate their pre-existing academic knowledge but also to showcase their capacity for innovative thinking, their commitment to policy-relevant research and their ability to connect across between different seams of scholarship.
  • The outline research proposal should be set out in bullet-points, and be no longer than 1,000 words in length.  
  • This is a full-time studentship.

Those called for interview will be required to prepare a 5-minute presentation in which they (i) introduce themselves to the panel, (ii) outline their research ideas and (iii) indicate any additional intellectual, professional or practical skills that could ‘add value’ to this project.

Deadline to apply: 30 November 2022

Start date: February 2023.

University of Sheffield Online Application


A stipend of £17k+ per year, home tuition fees of £4k+ per year and a Research Training Support Grant of £2,250 for the duration of the 3 years for UK/EU students. Qualified candidates worldwide may apply, but international students must self-fund the difference between the international and UK/EU fee rate.

For further details, please contact Professor Matthew Flinders (

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