Young people’s involvement with Domestic Homicide Reviews

Academic year 2020
Amount £15,009 per annum
Stirling, Scotland


Applications are invited for a full time PhD scholarship at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling. The scholarship is available to support a 3-year research degree.

Background information

This studentship is part of ‘Children and families affected by domestic abuse: Enhancing innovation in social care’ (CAFADA). The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of their Innovations in Social Care Programme. The project has eight other co-investigators and is led from the University of Stirling, by Professor Jane Callaghan at the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection.

This studentship is funded by the University of Stirling an will focus on young people’s involvement with Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs).

Domestic Homicide Reviews are conducted in England and Wales, to review the circumstances under which a person whose death is as a result of domestic violence. This is achieved through the production of a multi-agency account of the circumstances surrounding the death. It is intended that such reviews will contribute to learning for all agencies involved to help prevent future similar deaths and to the recovery of surviving family members. Although DHRs were established in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, there is no guidance or process for the involvement of children in these. Recent statutory guidance has emphasised the importance of such involvement. A systematic search of the literature in 2018 suggested a lack of good practice guidelines for organisations supporting children affected by domestic homicide. Stanley et al (2018) found that, although some children had been directly exposed DA, and some had witnessed the homicide itself, few were directly involved in the review process.

The studentship will involve using action research and co-production methods, to work with young people, other family members and advocates to reflect on and refine a model of good practice for professionals supporting children through DHRs. The student will work closely with our partner AAFDA, who supports families and other involved persons through the DHR process and have begun to offer support for children to be involved.

Hosted in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling, the PhD student will be ideally positioned to develop advanced skills in qualitative research and research with vulnerable groups during the project, whilst concurrently engaging with experts in gender-based violence, social policy and social work. The research will be supervised by Professor Jane Callaghan and Dr Fiona Morrison at the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection. The student will be encouraged to develop and disseminate research outputs and will have opportunities to develop their professional skills such as with advanced training opportunities and chances to gain experience of academic activities including teaching opportunities. The project’s research is a priority area of social policy and social work and on completion the PhD programme the student should be extremely well placed to secure further academic and research positions.


Using action research and coproduction methods, you will work with children, other family members and advocates to reflect on and refine a model of good practice for professionals supporting children through DHRs.

  1. In Year 1, you will be involved with 4-6 co-production meetings with review-experienced children, young people, young adults and trusted family members to explore their experience of involvement in the review process, their hopes and expectations of the process were, and the barriers to their involvement. We will also explore what models of support would be needed to enable children and young people’s fuller involvement in DHRs. This will include the production of materials to be included in a best practice toolkit.
  2. Stakeholder focus groups will be conducted together with supervisors, to explore barriers and enablers of children’s involvement in DHRs, including support needed for children and for professionals to enable a safe practice model.
  3. In year two, data collection specific to the PhD will commence. Informed by items 1 and 2, and working closely with children and trusted family members through the coproduction groups and with AAFDA professionals, a model of advocacy and support will be developed to support children through the DHR process.
  4. The model will be implemented through years 2 and 3, and we will track service delivery outcomes and implementation outcomes qualitatively, through interviews with children, other family members and carers, professionals working with children, review panel chairs, and stakeholder professionals. Interviews will be conducted with children and trusted family members who are supported through the DHR during the lifespan of the project. (It is anticipated that approximately 10 will be interviewed across England and Wales in the 3year data collection phase of the project.) Interviews will be conducted with stakeholder professionals and family members, to explore their perceptions and experiences of the process, and their experience of the support offered to them through the advocacy model.

Training and career development opportunities

Hosted within the Faculty of Social Sciences, the student will be provided with facilities, including their own desk in an office, and full access to all software and research equipment. The student will participate in the faculty’s internal research group ‘Child Wellbeing and Protection’. This research group runs regular seminars, research discussions and training events, and will provide opportunities for the student to meet and benefit from advice from a wide range of staff and other research students with relevant expertise. The Faculty also has a long history of co-funded studentships (e.g. CASE awards, collaborative studentships, impact studentships), and of working with non-academic audiences (e.g. through internships).

Subject specific training will be available to the student on a one-to-one basis with the supervisors and with other academics within the Faculty, and through their participation in internal and external subject-specific training events. These will include:

  • Research Design and Process
  • Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Policy Analysis and Evaluation Research
  • The Nature of Social Enquiry

External training events offer a particularly promising route to training development in this respect, since there are numerous high-quality training programmes available across the University sector to which the student would be encouraged to engage (e.g. NCRM short courses; summer school training programmes; ad hoc workshops). Generic training will be available primarily through the Institute for Advanced Studies at Stirling and/or the Scottish Graduate School and will include:

  • presentation and critical engagement skills through postgraduate, research group and seminar series events
  • writing for publication (through peer mentoring, specialist courses and writers retreats)
  • working with non-academic audiences through the Keyword seminar series;
  • general research training on themes such as project management, writing, and research ethics provided by the Stirling Graduate Research School

In the later stages of their project, the student will be encouraged to disseminate their research at national and international meetings and to submit publications to peer review journals. You will be part of the CAFADA research network, and will benefit from the training and mentorship opportunities offered through this network.

Practical arrangements

This is a fully-funded full-time studentship, financed by the University of Stirling. The full scholarship covers payment of course fees, maintenance stipend (£15,009 per annum), and research allowance.

The studentship is available as a ‘‘+3’ opportunity. The +3 route involves a 3-year research degree programme and requires that the candidate has an MSc qualification in social research methods.

The studentship will be is based in the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling and it is anticipated it will commence in March 2020. This studentship will lead to a PhD in Social Policy, from the University of Stirling.

The supervisors of the project are Professor Jane Callaghan and Dr Fiona Morrison.

Interviews will be held on 28th January 2020.

Eligibility and availability

The successful applicant will have:

  • An appropriate degree, and Masters degree is required.
  • A track record of excellent performance in previous academic studies.
  • Advanced knowledge about domestic abuse and how it impacts on children, young people and parents.
  • Advanced knowledge at least one of the following: how to involve children, young people and parents in service development; and how to involve children and young people in a research project.
  • A commitment to ethical research with vulnerable groups and the methodologies involved in the project.
  • Relevant post-graduate or experience in children’s or domestic abuse charities research experience is desirable

The full scholarship (covering payment of course fees, maintenance stipend (approximately £15,009 per annum), and research allowance, is available to candidates with ‘settled status’ in the UK. Candidates from other EU countries but without ‘settled status’ in the UK are eligible for the payment of course fees and research allowance, but are not qualified to receive the maintenance stipend.

How do I apply?

Applications should include:

  • a covering letter stating their interest in this particular studentship
  • a full CV including the names of two referees (at least one referee should be an academic)
  • a transcript/record of detailed grades achieved during previous university studies
  • a sample of the candidate’s written academic work
  • a short summary (maximum 500 words) written by the candidate that explains how they would approach the project’s research

The sample of academic work should be up to 2000 words, comprising a piece of work (or an extract from a longer piece of work), that the candidate has submitted in their previous University studies, and that demonstrates their competency as a prospective PhD candidate. The short summary of how the candidate would approach the research should refer to the project proposal and will be used to assess the applicant’s knowledge of the research field and of relevant methodological issues. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview in Stirling or via online methods.

Closing date: 11 December (5pm).

Interviews will be held on 28 January 2020.

Applications should be sent by email to [email protected].


Application will close on 11 December 2019


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