ESRC WRDTP Collaborative Studentship: Gender, intersectionality and chronic illness: the case of multiple sclerosis

This project will explore how gender influences multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis and prognosis, aiming to increase knowledge about the relationship between gender differences, intersectionality and health outcomes in chronic illness. Working in collaboration with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the study will investigate the complex interplay of intersectional factors that shape MS with a focus on the female gender by examining how women’s social roles can contribute to gender variation in health outcomes.

Intersectionality theory considers that various forms of social stratification ( gender, class, race, age, disability, etc.) do not exist separately from each other but are interwoven together. This study will pioneer the use of mixed-methods to contribute to intersectionality theory and knowledge and in doing so, it holds great promise for social science significance. While intersectionality has been previously incorporated into feminist academic work, its use in health research has been primarily in the form of qualitative studies.

Unprecedented access to the Leeds Teaching NHS Hospital population based prevalence MS Register will facilitate the exploration of theories and conceptualisation of the role of gender in chronic illness employing a case study approach. MS is the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults in the UK normally affecting working age populations with a female predominance (3:1). There has been a significant increase in MS prevalence in the UK and increasing gender imbalance but to date, there are no clear biological or social explanations for discrepancies between male and female MS rates. The project focuses on interdisciplinary perspectives on health and health inequalities by providing a social science gaze to an issue that is often examined through a biological lens.

The study is a unique opportunity for impact and knowledge exchange because it will work in partnership with an NHS Trust to utilise routinely collected clinical data and to produce clinically relevant and impactful research. Although intersectionality is now recognized in the context of gender, disability and health, its full implications for clinical practice have not yet been interrogated.

Entry requirements

Minimum UK Upper Second Class Honours or equivalent. The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate a background in social sciences and quantitative skills.

How to apply

How to Apply for an ESRC WRDTP Studentship at Leeds:

  1. Applicants applying on both a +3 and 1+3 basis should first of all apply for the relevant research postgraduate programme to commence 1 October 2019 and obtain their Student ID Number;
  2. Applicants should complete the research on-line scholarship application form available at: by the relevant deadline.  An Information Sheet with regulations, guidance notes and a link to the application form is available at

It is important that you select the correct studentship type for which you wish to apply, as this will determine the sections you will be asked to complete.

After receipt of your studentship application, the relevant School will provide further advice on your suitability for either a 1+3 or +3 studentship and advise whether you are required to apply for a Masters study place for the MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary) programme.

How to apply (email)

How to apply (phone)

+44 (0)113 343 8056