Self-funded PhD opportunities

Graduate self-employment and entrepreneurship in the creative economy

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: Department of Geography
  • PhD Supervisor: Carol Ekinsmyth and Donald Houston

This project is concerned with the Portsmouth creative economy and the role of creative entrepreneurs within it. It will focus on the businesses and self-employment of Portsmouth graduates in the Portsmouth creative economy. Located within the discipline of Geography the project is concerned with the relationship between medium-sized cities, universities and graduate creative career trajectories. There is scope for the successful candidate to take the project in the specific direction that interests them within the broad themes outlined here.

The recent ‘Portsmouth Creative Census 2016’ report suggests that over 30% of the creative businesses in Portsmouth are owned by Portsmouth graduates. These graduates have entered the economy at a time of major disruption, where ‘The Cloud’, social media, ‘Big Data’ and mobility (Braun, 2015 (conference presentation)), have transformed the rules as to who can do what work, where and when. They have also entered an industry where the logics of self-employment and fractured careers have taken hold to the extent that this is the common condition. Across the whole UK economy, self-employment has risen markedly in the last decade to around 15% of all employment (Taylor, 2015; D’Arcy and Gardiner, 2014) and forecasts predict that self-employed or portfolio careers will become the norm, especially in the creative sectors of the economy (Gill and Pratt, 2008). However, we do not yet know much about the career/personal journeys for creative graduates that lead to self-employment in this new digital economy or the roles of gender, family contexts and geographical mobility. There is speculation (but rather less data) that the typical self-employed worker is female, middle-class, home-based, low-earning and economically marginal (Ekinsmyth 2013; Taylor, 2015; Luckman, 2015), but research focuses on the end result (self-employment) rather than the journey. This research project will involve both quantitative and qualitative research methods to gain both a broad picture of the career trajectories of sampled creative graduates, and detailed portraits of their experiences of creative self-employment/entrepreneurship in a mid-sized city (Portsmouth). This will give the student a broad research-experience and research skills development.

The successful bursary candidate should have a background in Geography or a cognate discipline such as Sociology, Social Psychology, Business, Organisation or Communication Studies. An interest in gender theory would be an advantage. Experience with social research methods is desirable though training will be given.

Funding notes:

This PhD opportunity is available to self-funded students. Bench fees may apply. For more information please contact the project supervisor.

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Geography

All applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages:

When applying please note the project code - GEOG3280217