PhD opportunity 'The National Islands Plan: a journey to transformational change for Scotland's Islands?'

Applications are being sought for a 3½ year studentship at the Institute for Northern Studies titled 'The National Islands Plan: a journey to transformational change for Scotland's Islands?'

About the Project

This project will identify how the Islands Plan translates into actions to benefit island communities, and to what extent it responds to the aspirations expressed by the Islands Councils through their Our Islands Our Future campaign and embodied first in Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities and thereafter in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018. It will evaluate and critically analyse the developing and changing role of island based local government and its relationship with partners and communities.

The key research questions are:

  1. Identify how the National Islands Plan translates into actions to benefit island communities, and to what extent that responds to the aspirations expressed by the Islands Councils through their Our Islands Our Future campaign, and embodied first in Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities, and thereafter in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018. 
  2. Investigate the changing relationship between Scottish Government, local authorities, and other public bodies in providing services to meet the objectives of the National Islands Plan, with a view to understanding how communities can be empowered and engaged in delivering better outcomes and individual wellbeing. This would emerge from research involving discussion with the council, communities (geographic and of interest) and the annual reporting from the Scottish Government. Alternative forms of working should emerge, and others have been proposed and worked up to some extent already.
  3. Investigate how different forms of ownership and cooperation can be incorporated into the local implementation of the National Islands Plan.

Supervisory Team

Director of Studies:

  • Professor Donna Heddle
  • Acting Vice Principal (Research and Impact), Head of Cultural Heritage, Director of the Institute for Northern Studies UHI and Chair of the UHI Tourism Knowledge Exchange Sector Group

Second supervisor: Dr Steven Heddle. Dr Heddle brings a wealth of experience to the role. He was previously Political and Civic Leader of Orkney Islands Council; and President of CPMR (Convention of Peripheral and Maritime Regions) Islands Commission, November 2014-May 2016. He currently holds the following key positions:

  • COSLA Environment and Economy Spokesperson, with responsibility for these policy areas when representing local government nationally and in engagement with Scottish Government.
  • Territorial Development Spokesperson for CEMR (Council of European Municipalities and Regions).
  • Member of Scottish Government Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, AI Strategy Steering Committee, and EU Replacement Funding Steering Group.

Third supervisor: Dr Andrew Jennings, Institute for Northern Studies and Centre for Island Creativity UHI

The start date of this project is: 15th January 2022

The 3½ year studentships cover:

  • Home (UK) Tuition fees each year *
  • A maintenance grant each year of around £15,600 for full-time study
  • Funding for research training and development

*please note: for International students, there may be funding available to cover the full international tuition fee and this will be discussed at interview. If funds are not available, the candidate will be required to cover the difference in fees each year – for 2021/22 this difference amounts to £11,070. Annual tuition fees are subject to revision and typically increase by between 1.5-3% per annum.

Applicants should normally have, or be studying for:

  • A postgraduate Master’s degree from a degree-awarding body recognised by the UK government, or equivalent, or
  • A first or upper second class honours degree from a degree awarding body recognised by the UK government, or equivalent, or
  • Other qualifications or experience that affords sufficient evidence of an applicant’s ability to work at the academic level associated with doctoral study.
  • If English is not your native language, an English language test certificate gained within the past two years – IELTS or equivalent with overall score of 6.5 and no element below 6.0. More information regarding visa requirements can be found here

Enquiries

For enquiries relating to the project, please contact: 

For general enquiries, please contact 

For more information on research at the university – see here

How to Apply

Please supply an academic CV and cover letter, explaining why you feel you are a suitable candidate for the project.

Please send to  by 12 November 2021, 5pm.