PhD scholarship at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (UCPH): The Future of Humanitarian Design

Updated: 29 days ago
Deadline: 01 May 2023

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship at the Department of Political Science. Enrolment will be at the Faculty of Social Sciences under Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences. The position is part of the research project “The Future of Humanitarian Design” (HUD), funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (KU PI: Jonathan Luke Austin).

The position starting date is on 1 September 2023 (or later on discussion)

The Project
The recruited candidate will form part of the research project ‘The Future of Humanitarian Design (HUD)’. HUD is a four-year Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funded project. HUD explores how emerging technologies, processes of aesthetic design, and engineering insights can be combined with knowledge from international relations to tackle the crisis facing humanitarianism. To do so, the project is constructed around a form of experimental action research in which International Relations scholars will collaboratively work alongside architects, engineers, and others to lead the co-design of three technological innovations designed to improve humanitarian practice and conditions. In this, the goal is to 1) explore how we might better integrate ‘high theoretical’ and ‘critical’ social scientific concepts and theories into the world of practice (humanitarian and beyond), 2) to see how social science can be more closely ‘bridged’ with engineering, architectural, and design practice and knowledge, and 3) therein, take up the urgent task – especially in the light of recent geopolitical events – of working collaboratively across the sciences to improve the conditions of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.

HUD is a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, the Geneva Graduate Institute, the Art and Design School in Geneva, and the EssentialTech Lab at EPFL Lausanne. It also integrates high-level policy practitioners as project partners based at organizations including Médecins sans frontières (doctors without borders), Terre des hommes, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, alongside partnerships with research institutions in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As part of the project, doctoral students will join this interdisciplinary and transvocational team, having the opportunity to travel and work in relevant field sites (Colombia, DRC). They will integrate the team as researchers whose dissertation project contribute to the realization of the overall HUD project. They will also complete the PhD training at the institution where they enrol. Finally, they will take a leading role in shaping the Early Career research activities related to the project.

Enrolment for this PhD scholarship will be at the Faculty of Social Sciences under Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences, and the successful candidate will be based at the Department of Political Science.

The Department of Political Science
The Department is a top-ranked European Political Science department, which offers a vibrant, collegial and pluralist academic working environment for ambitious scholars. The pluralism of Political Science in Copenhagen is evidenced in the various epistemological and methodological approaches as well as sub-fields adopted by faculty, as well as in a wide range of core subjects in the MSc programme.

The Department consists of some 75 faculty, which currently includes more than 10 tenure-track assistant professors, as well as some 25 PhD students, organized in four main researcher groups and a few centres. For more on the Department, please consult our webpage:       

The Department has some 2,100 students across its study programmes and welcomes annually appr. 200 exchange and guest students from abroad. See more on the Department’s study programmes here:

The Department is located on an attractive, historic campus in central Copenhagen. Located in a capital, the Department has a strong tradition for engagement in policy development and impact, and in national and international public debates. We are interested in candidates who feel at home in a pluralistic research environment that uses insights from research to confront pressing societal and political challenges.  

The PhD programme
The PhD programme provides PhD students with strong research training which opens up a window of opportunity to a variety of careers within the private and public sectors. The programme includes the drafting of a PhD thesis, active participation in research networks, PhD courses, teaching, and other forms of knowledge dissemination. The PhD is to be undertaken as a three year full-time study within the framework of the 5+3 study programmme.

Further information about the PhD study programme is available on the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences:  

Under "Legal basis" on the website you will find information about the rules and guidelines for the PhD programme and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD programme at the Universities. 

Information about the PhD study programme is also available on the PhD website of the Department of Political Science    

In order to be awarded a PhD scholarship the applicant has to enroll as a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, cf. the rules of the Danish Ministerial order No 1039 of 27 August 2013.  

PhD students are paid a salary in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). The PhD student has a work obligation of up to 840 hours over the 3 year period of time without additional pay. The work obligation can include for instance teaching.  

In order to be eligible for a scholarship in the 5+3 PhD study programme the applicant must have completed a two year MSc degree programme, or have earned 120 ECTS credits at an equivalent academic level before starting his or her employment. Applicants should check the study programmes for more detailed descriptions of the entry requirements. We are seeking to recruit a candidate with a specialization within International Relations and Political Science and in one or more of the following areas:

  • Design (theory, materiality, aesthetics, arts); technological politics; (global) politics; international relations;
  • Humanitarian Action, and related fields of practice, broadly conceived;
  • Political violence and violence prevention;
  • An area studies interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and/or Colombia (or related).

In addition to these areas of specialization, the following competences and skills are expected:

  • A background (e.g. MA degree) in a relevant social science field (political science, international relations, anthropology, geography, sociology, science and technology studies, etc.) AND;
  • A strong interest in interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary research;
  • Excellent English-language writing and speaking skills. Proficiency in one or more of French, Spanish, Swahili, Lingala will also be valued/an added benefit.
  • A willingness to take on independent responsibilities;
  • Proficient communication skills and an ability to work independently as well as in teams;
  • A willingness to travel to relevant field sites and other locations as part of the project (required);

Duties and Responsibilities
Applicants should familiarise themselves with the research strategy and the ongoing research at the Department before submitting their application. Further information can be found:

The chosen candidate will also respect the Danish Code of Conduct for Research found here: and the Code of Conduct at the Department of Political Science found here:


How to apply
Submit a complete application at our online portal. Click on the “Apply now” icon at the bottom of the page to apply. The documents must be in Adobe PDF or Word.

  • Project abstract (Please fill in the project abstract in the application form. Must not exceed 1.200 characters.)
  • Cover Letter (detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project )
  • A PhD project description (recommended no more than 4,000 words not including bibliography), with a discussion of how the proposal connects to the Future of Humanitarian Design Project.
  • CV (with at least two references who can be contacted in case of shortlisting          )
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)   
  • Time schedule 
  • Budget 
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications, documentation of English language qualifications (if any)  

Please note that it is only possible to upload one document per attachment category. If more than one document has to be uploaded in the same category, please make sure that they are scanned and collected into one file.  

Application process  
On the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences you will find information about the enclosures to include with your electronic application:

The recruitment process
Further information on the recruitment process at University of Copenhagen can be found here:

The following criteria are used when shortlisting candidates for assessment: 

1. Research qualifications as reflected in the project proposal. 

2. Quality and feasibility of the project.  

3. Qualifications and knowledge in relevant sub-fields for the Future of Humanitarian Design research project. 

4. Performance (grades obtained) in graduate and post-graduate studies. 

5. Department of Political Science can offer adequate supervision for the research topic in question. 

Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the assessment committee, and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself. You can read about the recruitment process here . 

An Equal Opportunity Workplace
The University of Copenhagen is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to creating an inclusive working environment and therefore encourages all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of personal background. For more on the diverse working place environment at the University and the University’s participation in the HRS4R HR Excellence in Research, see

International applicant?
The University of Copenhagen offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including support before and during your relocation and career counselling to expat partners. Please find more information about these services as well as information on entering and working in Denmark here:

Contact information
Information about the recruitment process is available from HR South and City CampusesHR, e-mail:, please refer to ID number: 211-1387/23-2H.

Additional information about the position can be obtained from HUD Principal Investigator,Dr. Jonathan Luke Austin, e-mail:

The closing date for applications is 23:59 [*CEST/CET] 1st May 2023.

Applications received after the deadline will not be taken into account. 

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

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