Centre for Doctoral Training in New Horizons in Borders and Bordering


We are pleased to be able to offer funding for two home fee paying studentships and one international fee paying studentship for the New Horizons in Borders and Bordering theme. In addition, a Research Training Support Grant of £2,250 is available for each studentship across the funded period to support the costs of research, such as fieldwork and conference attendance.

Students will benefit from supervision from world leading researchers in interdisciplinary teams, which will equip students with the skills to combine theoretical concepts and innovative research methods across disciplines. Students will study as part of a cohort and will have access to tailored training, in addition to expert training in knowledge exchange and opportunities to engage with our key strategic partnerships to maximise the beneficial societal impacts of their projects. 

Led by Professor Majella Kilkey from our Department of Sociological Studies, the CDT in New Horizons in Borders and Bordering will build an interdisciplinary community of expertise in borders, bordering and debordering (resistance). The CDT takes bordering as a key global challenge for communities around the world, recognising that new bordering practices will have a range of social impacts for the foreseeable future which need to be understood. In doing so, we will build interdisciplinary understanding of emerging phenomena, which will also contribute to building expertise for future developments. The CDT will offer advanced training in this sometimes hard to research area, a cross disciplinary supervisory framework, expertise and guidance from academic experts beyond the University of Sheffield, including internationally, and opportunities for knowledge exchange beyond academia.

The following projects are available in the New Horizons in Borders and Bordering CDT:

Project 1: Migrant youth activisms: de-bordering practices and urban solidarities in re-imagining the city


Lead: Ryan Powell, Reader in Urban Studies, Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Second: SJ Cooper-Knock, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, School of Law & Department of Sociological Studies

Third: Will Mason, Lecturer in Applied Social Sciences, Sheffield Methods Institute

Through engagement with youth-led movements this project will challenge simplistic categorizations and binary thinking. It will work with urban young people with migration experiences in understanding how the activisms and collectives they assemble around them disrupt everyday bordering practices and policy.

Beyond core policy concerns of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UAASC) and the radicalization of youth, migration tends to be framed normatively as an ageless category.  Young migrants are problematized and/or framed as passive recipients of support, meaning the ways they actively shape the city are neglected.  This project will foreground the vitality, politics, and generative potentialities of young migrants in seeking to capture the dynamic interplay between migrant youth, bottom-up solidarities and alternative ways of inhabiting the city.  It seeks to de-homogenize and historicize the role of migrants in contributing to youth activisms (e.g. environmental, anti-racist, anti-patriarchal, anti-ableist), both historical and contemporary.

Drawing on archival research on grassroots youth movements alongside qualitative research with young migrants the research will explore the biographies, relations and infrastructures of migrant activism from an explicit youth perspective. How do young migrants become activists? What relations, wider coalitions and infrastructures of care give rise to, and emerge from, these activisms?  What new spaces and collectives are co-created? And how do migrant youth activisms contribute to the imagining of alternative urban futures and actively challenge impositions of non-citizens?  Sitting at the intersection of sociology, geography, urban studies, urban history and migration studies, this project will  use a youth lens to explore nuanced migratory experiences.  Moreover, it will contribute new historical and contemporary perspectives by conceptualising the urban inhabitation of an everyday politics of care.

Project 2: Transnational lives and re-crossing borders: memory, place and belonging


Lead: Clare Rishbeth, Senior Lecturer, Department of Landscape

Second: Tom Goodfellow, Professor of Urban Studies & International Development, Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

While the initial border crossings of forced and elective migration gain most prominence in scholarship and news agendas, this project explores how re-crossing borders continues as a meaning-rich experience for first generation migrants. The focus of the research is on the experiences of settled UK residents who visit countries of childhood either regularly or infrequently, with the aim of deepening understanding of migration impacts over the lifecourse. The project will explore connections between transnational identities and the nature of place (geographic, relational, legal and emotional dimensions) as heightened by border-crossing and bordering practices, how these are experienced differently and negotiated over time through the opportunities of international mobility. 

The research examines the relationship between the local and the international through two spatial-temporal dimensions to re-crossing borders. The first is the experience of shifts in ‘othering’ - sense of belonging 'here', ability to visit 'there' - as an individual or family journeys between current and previous home countries. The second explores the reflective meanings of these visits in relation to ‘now’ and ‘then’, the contemporary border crossing as situated in comparison to memories of their initial migration and arrival in the UK.

Methods used will be qualitative and participatory with the student expected to develop an approach which reflects their own interests and community connections. The project could focus either on one diaspora living in the UK (e.g. Jamaican, Somalian) or one neighbourhood in the UK with multiple migration histories and journeys. The student will be supported to find creative and mutually engaging methods for documenting participants' socio-spatial experiences of home (UK) neighbourhoods, visit preparations, experiences of border-crossings and arrival, re-establishing (previous home) practices and social networks and then returning to the UK. Reflective processes will be embedded throughout to give space to the role of memory and participant explorations of their own transnational identities.

Project 3: Information and communication technologies and the datafication of migration: between border control and resistance


Lead: Owen Parker, Senior Lecturer in European Politics, Department of Politics and International Relations & Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute

Second: Sara Vannini, Lecturer in Information Management and Information Systems, Information School & Institute for Global Sustainable Development

The ever-growing displacement of people globally has been met with intensified surveillance and datafication of migration. Digital technologies may be used to facilitate and support migrants in their paths and settlement, but they are also increasingly used to border and expel migrants. Research shows how digital technologies have proven useful for navigating perilous journeys, accessing information and resources, maintaining transnational ties, building communities, and better integrating into host societies. While using them, though, migrants are increasingly leaving digital traces. This raises concerns in relation to migrants’ right to privacy, the trustworthiness and fragility of socio-technical systems, and other ways in which digital data may restrict freedoms and pose risks to migrants.

This project will explore issues related to migration datafication. It may consider the digital governance of external ‘third country national’ migrants and/or internal mobile ‘citizens’. This may include considerations of racialized outsiders and/or minoritized insiders/citizens. The broad guiding questions are: How are digital spaces and digital traces implicated in the governance of mobility? How are they experienced and resisted by various categories of migrants? The appointed student may wish to explore such issues in relation to the UK, the EU or in the context of another geographical focus of their choosing.

Proposed methods include some combination of qualitative and participatory methods, co-production of knowledge, case studies, document analysis and digital ethnography.

The project will contribute to knowledge by exploring how the digital landscape relates to narratives of security, human rights, freedom of movement, citizenship, and deservingness. The project may consider ways in which socio-technical systems can be reformed and/or inform better policies for migrants, especially within communities facing vulnerable conditions.


  • A strong first degree (2.1 or a first class honours) ideally in a relevant social science subject
  • Candidates applying with a Masters degree must have obtained at least a Merit (or equivalent)
  • For those candidates for whom English is not their first language or who do not possess a degree from an educational institution using the English language for instruction, candidates must meet the minimum IELTS requirement for their department of application.

   Applications should be made to the department of the lead supervisor.

In addition to the online application through the University PGR system -Postgraduate Online Application Form (sheffield.ac.uk), please submit the following as part of the application:

1. A 500-word personal statement explaining how your skills, experiences, interests and career plans make you a suitable candidate for the studentship.

2. A one page (A4) outline of how you would approach the project including the focus that you would like to take, some indicative research questions, proposed methods, and an indication of any theories or literature that you think will be especially relevant for this project. 

We will hold two online information sessions: 23 November 17:00 to 18:00 & 14 December 12.00 to 13.00. You should sign-up for only one here.

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