Self-representation and self-advocacy: Persons with disabilities as leaders of disability-inclusive global academia

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Tuition fees blus bursary (UK/International (including EU at international rates)

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Dimitar Angelov.


Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably qualified graduates for a fully funded PhD studentship as part of the university’s Trailblazer PhD program. The successful candidate will be part of a thriving research community in the Research Centre for Global Learning, a research centre that aims to inform and transform global education.

Project details

The almost exclusively negative discourse about disability in larger society casts disabled people as marginal others – an image they have to negotiate throughout their social and professional lives, including at various stages of education. 

The overarching aim of this project is to reverse existing negative associations and replace them with positive examples of persons with disabilities’ (PWD’) success in higher education (HE). The project will elicit the authentic voices of disabled students and staff in the UK (Global North) and Malaysia (Global South), who will tell their stories of overcoming barriers and educational achievement.  This reversal of perspectives will allow PWD to appropriate their difference and frame it in positive terms, so as to counter the prevalent deficit discourse about them, create positive reinforcement models, improve self-image and enhance self-esteem. PWD’ success stories and best practice in addressing challenges will also help institutional stakeholders to create a more inclusive HE globally.  

The proposed PhD project will explore the following overarching research question: ‘How can the life stories of disabled university students and staff in the UK and Malaysia help us understand persons with disabilities’ achievement and success in global academia, as well as disability-inclusive global higher education?’.


Tuition fees, bursary and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Candidate specification

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

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Additional requirements

Fluency in Malay will be considered a strong advantage.

How to apply 

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Dimitar Angelov.

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, and a 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

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