ESRC PhD studentship on: “A digital competence framework in the making: Perceptions, cultures and practice”

Fancy doing a PhD with Dr Carina Girvan (PI), Dr Jamie Lewis and me at Cardiff University, looking at the wider impact of the new Digital Competence Framework in Wales? We have a fully-funded studentship starting in October 2018, funded under the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, with support from the Welsh Government:

“A digital competence framework in the making: Perceptions, cultures and practice”


We live in a world in which digital knowledge, digital skills and digital frameworks are seen as central to both individual and national futures. In Wales, for example, a new Digital Competence Framework (DCF) was the first recommendation from ‘Successful Futures’, placing digital skills as a core competence alongside literacy and numeracy.

The development (and implementation) of the DCF, with data literacy and computational thinking as core cross-curricular competencies, is unique in the world. Having first been made available to schools in September 2016, there are a range of techno-pedagogical challenges to implementation and scaling the DCF outside of the core Digital Pioneer schools. However, we lack an understanding of the perceptions and cultures through which new forms of digital practice are made.

Project aims and methods

This studentship aims to make sense of the delivery and practice of the DCF by teachers across Wales. As the Framework is a relatively new element of the Welsh curriculum, and is thus in the making, the project is likely to be exploratory in nature from the beginning and will develop as the curriculum and implementation of the Framework matures.

It will require fieldwork in classrooms, as well as interviews with key actors, including include practitioners involved in the development of the Framework from the Pioneer schools. Observations and interviews will include specialist and non-specialist teachers in both rural and urban settings.

This is a ‘collaborative’ PhD studentship in partnership with the Welsh Government (and me!), as part of the Science and Technology Studies DTP Pathway hosted in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. ESRC studentships are highly competitive — candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree. The project would be 3-4 years full-time (or 5-6 years part-time), with full UK/EU tuition fee support, a full doctoral stipend matching the UK Research Councils national minimum (currently £14,553 p.a. for 2017/18 for full-time students, updated each year), and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant. There will also be other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.

For an informal discussion, please contact Dr Carina Girvan (; also check out the full ESRC DTP studentship vacancy, as well as how to apply.

Deadline for applications: Thursday 1 February 2018.

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