Conflict and Refugee Pathways

PhD Project Outline

There has been an ongoing debate on what type of migration is justifiable from the point of view of countries of destination, with distinctions being drawn between ‘genuine refugees’ fleeing conflict, and economic migrants aiming for European destinations. Yet, less is known about how individuals genuinely fleeing conflict shape their choice of destination once they have set out on a lengthy journey. Their pathway often involves the crossing of numerous borders until requesting asylum in specific destinations. Arguably, there are changing expectations and priorities shaped along the migrant route, by both the local conditions encountered on the way and the groups and networks built during migration. One factor in the long trajectory of refugee flows is certainly security and access to asylum, but economic opportunities and constraints further add to the decision of settlement in alternative destinations.

This research project will build primarily on information gathered through the IOM Flow Monitoring System. It investigates the choices made by migrants before settling as refugees, where fleeing conflicts or persecution are the main reasons for leaving their origin. The project emphasises the economic conditions and motivations behind the decision to settle in alternative destinations, as driven by personal circumstances, labour market conditions, as well as questions of security and social networks. The methodological approach would involve micro-econometric data analysis and an inter-disciplinary perspective, possibly including an element of qualitative work and interviews, focussed around both transit areas and settlement destinations for recent refugee flows in Europe, and in the local economy of East Anglia.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been awarded ‘University of Sanctuary’ status, which promotes action to support refugees and asylum seekers into higher education. This project will also benefit from exchanges and collaborations within the UEA’s Migration Research Network and support from European university partners in refugee ‘transit countries’. You are welcome to contact Liliana Harding to hear more about the topic.


The successful candidate will join the PhD programme within the School of Economics at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and can collaborate with the team members of UEA’s Migration Research Network. Doctoral training covers one year of compulsory courses in Research Methods and Quantitative Skills (Mathematics and Econometrics), as well as core training in both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Optional courses are offered in the second year and vary from year to year. PGR researchers have access to the School of Economics’ programme of Summer Schools, as well as to the renowned training programme offered by the Faculty of Social Sciences at UEA.

Research Team: You would be working with Dr. Liliana Harding and Prof. Peter Moffatt.

Person Specification

We are seeking a high-calibre candidate with a good MSc in Economics (2.1 and above or equivalent) or in related disciplines. The candidate should have an interest in interdisciplinary research and methods.

Application deadline: 15 March 2021

Start Date: October 2021

Mode of Study: Full-time or Part-time

Studentship length: 3 years

Minimum entry requirement: UK 2:1.

Applications are to be submitted electronically via our Postgraduate Apply page.

Funding Notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Industrial Economics Research Group at the School of Economics at UEA.

The School of Economics is an Athena Swan Award Holder and is committed to equality and diversity, and inclusion of students of any and all backgrounds.

UK and EU nationals, as well as international candidates are eligible for the stipend.

Applications must be supported by:

  • Official transcripts (in English) of your higher education qualifications.

  • A Personal Statement of 500 to 1,000 words

  • A CV detailing your work experience to date. Two academic references.

  • Evidence of your English proficiency if English is not your first language

  • A Research Proposal.

Applications must be accompanied by a research proposal of 2000 words on the topic of this call. In some cases students who are funded or who expects funding from some government agencies apply for a ‘1 + 3': MSc followed by a MPhil/PhD; in these cases, at the time of applying for a ‘1 + 3' a short research proposal will suffice. Please email Dr Stephen Davies for more details on this project.

The School attaches great importance to providing a speedy response to applicants. To help us do this, please follow the procedure described in the application form and guidance notes and enclose all the material that it requests. No application will be considered until all the supporting documentation is received.

All applications are considered on their own merit by the Economics Postgraduate Selection Committee.


Download this PhD Project Outline