PhD scholarship in the project 'The phenomenology of Face Blindness'

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 15 Oct 2021

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship in the DFF-funded project ‘The Phenomenology of Face Blindness’ at StarrLab, Department of Psychology. Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Enrolment will be at the Faculty of Social Sciences under Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences. The position is fully funded for 3 years.

Information about StarrLab and our ongoing research can be found here:

The position starting date is on 1 January 2022.


‘The Phenomenology of Face Blindness’ is a cross-disciplinary psychological project combining phenomenological psychology and neuropsychology. The project is a collaboration between PI Professor (mso) in neuropsychology Randi Starrfelt and co-PI associate professor Tone Roald. The project is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Most people are able to detect and recognize a familiar face in less than a second, with little or no apparent effort. This is not so for people with developmental prosopagnosia (DP) or “face blindness”, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severely impaired face recognition. People with DP never learn to recognize other people by their faces, and this can have severe consequences for their social interaction. Some even report being unable to recognize their parents, partner, or children when searching for them in a crowd or meeting them in unexpected places. DP is typically investigated using quantitative, experimental methods in the context of cognitive neuropsychology and neuroscience. The current project will instead take a qualitative approach based on phenomenological psychology, asking; How do people with DP experience perceiving and remembering faces? Through interviews and theoretical analyses, the project will enable a more fundamental characterization of DP, thus informing cognitive theory and providing a more nuanced understanding of DP.

The PhD programme provides PhD students with strong research training and includes independent research work (under supervision), active participation in research networks, PhD courses, teaching, and other forms of knowledge dissemination, as well as drafting and defending a PhD-dissertation. The open position is for a 3-year PhD, within the framework of the 5+3 study programme.   

Applicants need to hold a two-year Master's degree (120 ECTS) or the equivalent. The degree should preferably be in psychology, but degrees from related fields like philosophy, anthropology or cognitive science may also be considered.

The ideal candidate will have knowledge of and interest in psychological phenomenology and neuropsychology/prosopagnosia, including interview techniques and methods for analysis. As research interviews will be performed in a Danish context, the candidate must be fluent in oral and written Danish (corresponding to CEFR level C1). In addition, excellent communication skills in English are essential and applicants must speak and write academic English. The administration may ask applicants to document their proficiency in Danish and English at any time in the recruitment process, if considered necessary.

Applicants must send pre-approval of their Master’s thesis if it is not completed at the time of the application deadline.

Applicants with a non-Danish Master's degree will have their degree assessed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in order to establish that their Master's degree is equivalent to a Danish Master's degree. Please read more at the Ministry of Higher Education and Sciences website:

The applicant’s qualifications for the scholarship are evaluated by the applicant’s general educational and academic background.  Project description, grade average, thesis grade, language competencies, publications, and other academic activities will be taken into account.

Deadline for applications: 15th of October, 2021

For further information regarding the project, including the overall project description, please contact Professor (mso) Randi Starrfelt,  

We recommend that you request the overall project description before preparing your application.

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

In English:
In Danish:

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.

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

In English:
In Danish:

Job description
The specific focus of the PhD project is to investigate how people with DP experience perceiving and remembering faces, including experiential variations of this phenomenon. This will involve recruitment of participants, planning and conducting phenomenological interviews about face recognition, and analysing transcripts for instance using the descriptive phenomenological approach developed by Giorgi.

The successful candidate will be working in close cooperation with the PI and co-PI as well as a student assistant that will assist with recruitment, transcribing interviews etc. The PhD-student will benefit from being part of two research groups at the Department of Psychology, UCPH: The Cognition/ Neuropsychology cluster, and the Center for Phenomenological Psychology and Aesthetics. StarrLab is part of the research cluster Cognition and neuropsychology, where the PhD-will partake in common research meetings and daily interaction with other researchers. An international stay is planned as part of the PhD.

Enrolment as a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Sciences' PhD School is a precondition for employment as a PhD scholar.

As a PhD scholar at The Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen, you will be supervised throughout the 6 semesters of your programme. In addition to this, you must complete courses totalling approximately 30 ECTS. On completion of the PhD programme you must submit a PhD thesis in order to document your research effort.

Read more about the structure of the PhD programme and what it means to be enrolled as a PhD student via this link:

For more information about the PhD School, click here:


The application must be submitted electronically using the APPLY NOW button below.

Applications should include the following enclosures:

  • Cover letter
    detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project
  • Reflections on phenomenology and cognitive psychology
    The application must include a brief paper including a presentation and discussion of how the candidate views the relationship between phenomenology and cognitive psychology/neuropsychology, preferably with specific reference to prosopagnosia. This may contain one or more relevant research questions and methodological considerations.
  • This paper must not exceed 2 standard pages, corresponding to approx. 4,000 characters (including curriculum, title, punctuation, figures, footnotes and references, but excluding bibliography). A substantial breach of this will result in the application being excluded from consideration.
  • CV
    Including a list of publications, if available, must be submitted with the application.
  • Diploma and transcript of records
    The following documentation must be submitted
  • A copy of the applicant's Master's degree diploma (if not available before the application deadline, a pre-approval must be submitted)
  • A copy of the applicant's Master’s degree transcript of records (an official description of the grading scale must be included)
  • A copy of the applicant's Bachelor’s degree diploma
  • A copy of the applicant's Bachelor’s degree transcript of records (an official description of the grading scale must be included)

If the MA diploma and/or examination records are in another language than English, German, French, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian or Swedish, please include a translation into either of these languages in your application. (Do NOT upload recommendations, publications or your Master thesis)

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding society, and invites all qualified applicants, regardless of personal background, to apply for the positions. In order to be awarded a PhD scholarship the applicant has to enrol as a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, cf. the rules of the Danish Ministerial order No 1039 of 27 August 2013.

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Appointments Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an expert assessment committee.

Application process   

On the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences you will find a time schedule for the application process, and information about enclosures to include with your electronic application: (in English) and (in Danish)   

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, applicants are selected for assessment on the advice of the Appointment Committee. All applicants will be notified whether they are passed on to assessment or not. Whereafter, the Assessment Committee is appointed by the Dean and the selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee. Each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment which relates to their own application.

Afterwards selected qualified candidates will be invited for an interview. Please be advised that a positive assessment does not necessarily mean that you will be invited for an interview.

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.                   Qualifications and knowledge of phenomenology and cognitive psychology/neuropsychology

2.         The quality of the reflective paper submitted with the application

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

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

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 fromHR, e-mail:, please refer to ID number: 211-0854/21-2H. Questions regarding the PhD project within the research project Tempting Tunes can be directed to the project manager Barbara Wall, e-mail

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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