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ERC-funded PhD Studentships in Politics/Social Science
University of Exeter, UK

Scholarship / Financial aid: 2 awards worth of £13,863 each + tuition fees

Date: 3 years

Deadline: 30th January 2015

Open to: full-time students from the UK and abroad

Announcement follows

About the award

These prestigious awards cover:

• Direct payment of tuition fees for 3 years
• Maintenance allowance for accommodation and living expenses of around £13,863 per annum.

Please note the following points:

• The studentships are open to full-time students from the UK and abroad.
• Awards are payable in equal monthly instalments on enrolment and continued payment of the studentships is subject to satisfactory annual progression in the context of the research project to which the studentships are linked.
• We do not expect the funding to be used for students who have already completed a substantial proportion of a PhD.
• It is not a requirement of these awards that successful award holders undertake teaching for their department. Teaching may be available and if an award holder is paid for teaching it will be in addition to the maintenance allowance.

Project Summary:
The PhDs are funded through a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC-STATORG) awarded to Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Nicole Bolleyer. The five-year, interdisciplinary project addresses the following questions: Which regulatory frameworks are in place in 19 long-lived democracies to steer the behaviour of membership-based, voluntary organizations (e.g. parties, NGOs, interest groups, charities) (phase 1)? How do distinct regulatory frameworks affect the operation, evolution and survival of these voluntary organizations (phase 2)?

The two studentships are embedded in phase 2 of STATORG which studies the long-term evolution of parties, interest groups and charities formed post 1980 in a small number of long-lived democracies – qualitatively and quantitatively. The democracies will be characterized by different regulatory frameworks (e.g. funding regimes, allocation of tax benefits, regulation of legal recognition, election law, lobby regulation) to assess how different organizations adapt to their respective environment (e.g. in terms of organizational change, strategic adaptation).
The two PhD students can have backgrounds in various social science disciplines (e.g. politics, sociology, economics). They will contribute a) to a comparative study of developmental patterns of environmental groups, political parties and social policy organizations (through in-depth interviews and qualitative document analysis) and b) to a quantitative comparative analysis (using event history/survival analysis) on the features that affect organizations’ likelihood to survive. Next to the opportunity to write a PhD in the context of an ambitious, interdisciplinary project, there will be opportunities for all team members to co-author conference papers and academic publications, i.e. these posts will provide an excellent foundation for an academic career.

Applicants must have at least a first degree at 2:1 or higher, and ideally should have achieved or be working towards a postgraduate qualification in a social science that is relevant to the project (e.g. politics, sociology, economics). We also encourage applicants who are not presently working towards a postgraduate qualification but who can demonstrate equivalent experience and/or aptitude for research in their field. Preferably candidates have fluency (next to fluency in English) in one European language that is not German. Preference will be given to candidates who have some experience in the comparative study of one (or more) of the following type of voluntary organizations: NGOs, political parties, interest or advocacy groups, non-profit organizations, charities, unions. While each PhD student will take responsibility for one country selected for in-depth analysis respectively, one successful candidate will have experience in advanced quantitative methods, the other in the qualitative in-depth study of organizational structures and processes.

How to apply

In order to apply you will need to complete an online web form where you must submit some personal details and upload the following documents by 5pm on Friday 30th of January 2015.
• A detailed CV
• Covering letter - outlining your academic interests, any prior research experience and reasons for wishing to do Phd in the context of this project
• A statement outlining (maximum 1500-2000 words, excluding bibliography) what you see as the particular opportunities and challenges of this research project and how you see yourself contributing to it given your skills and disciplinary background. Please note that you are expected to illustrate your knowledge and understanding of the issues and/or the research process and explain why you are suitable to contribute to the project. Please upload in the research proposal section in one document together with your research paper (it is not possible to upload separate documents).
• One research paper of your choice (e.g. your BA or MA dissertation, a seminar paper) that demonstrates your methodological skills - please upload in the research proposal section in one document together with your research statement (it is not possible to upload separate documents).
• Transcript of your highest qualification to date or an interim transcript if you are still studying
• IELTS/TOEFL certificate - where applicable
• 2 references to be sent direct to
Please note that if you are successful in being awarded funding you will then be asked to apply for a study place in addition to formalise the funding offer.

Selection Process:
All short listed applicants will be invited for an interview and will be required to give a 10 minute presentation. The interviews are scheduled Wednesday 25th of February 2015 in Exeter at the University’s Streatham campus.
For informal enquiries and further information on the project please contact Prof. Nicole Bolleyer at


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