Postgraduate research

The Contemporary Rural Working Classes in England and Wales

Qualification: PhD

Department: Geography

Application deadline: 19 June 2023

Start date: 25 September 2023


ESRC Midlands Graduate School DTP Studentship in collaboration with ADR UK


Prof Martin Phillips (School of Geography, Geology and the Environment)

Dr Patrick White (School of Media, Communications and Sociology)

Project Description:

The student will work under the supervision of Professor Martin Phillips (School of Geography, Geology and Environment) and Dr Patrick White (School of Media, Communications and Sociology) at the University of Leicester to undertake quantitative research examining the working conditions and social composition of working-class employees living and/or working in rural areas of England and Wales. There have been few studies of the contemporary rural working class in the UK, despite this social group figuring prominently in highly influential studies in and of the past (e.g. Newby 1977; Thompson, 1963). The predominant focus of contemporary research on the UK countryside has been on it being a "middle class territory" (Newby 1979: 497), with processes such as counterurbanisation, rural gentrification and agricultural mechanisation and centralisation, all being seen to undermine working class residence and employment in the countryside. Such accounts, however, neglect evidence of low-income migration to certain rural areas; the continuing persistence of low-income populations, even in areas of rural gentrification and middle-class employment growth; and studies highlighting the restructuring of working-class occupations, working conditions, and networks of social solidarity. Research has also pointed to the presence of social mobility within the work-class population, both upwards and downwards, an issue also stressed in more studies of rural employment precarity. Recent analysis of political attitudes and voting behaviours associated with Brexit have also variously stressed the significance of a rural working class and new lines of social solidarity. The student will use the Enhanced Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (EASHE) dataset produced by the Wage and Employment Dynamics Project for the ADR, as well as data related to agricultural employment and social class, gender, ethnicity, educational qualifications and age, to develop a quantitative analysis of the rural working-class employees and residents and their changing employment conditions and relations.




ESRC Midlands Graduate School PhD Studentship

Our ESRC studentships cover: 

  • fees at the home rate
  • a maintenance stipend at UKRI rates currently £17,668 per year
  • and extensive support for research training, as well as research activity support grants.

Support is available to both home and international applicants. For further details, visit:

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries about the research or ADR UK prior to application can be directed to be directed to Professor Martin Phillips

For advice on the application process, contact to

How to apply

How to apply

To be considered for this PhD, please complete the ADR UK Studentship application form

Please upload an anonymised CV and cover letter as part of the online application process.

Shortlisted applicants will also be required to provide transcripts and two references.



Open to UK and International applicants that meet our entry criteria.

For further details, visit:

Back to top