PhD student within the area of Medical Humanities

Updated: 26 days ago
Deadline: 01 Sep 2022

Published: 2022-06-30

Uppsala University is a comprehensive research-intensive university with a strong international standing. Our ultimate goal is to conduct education and research of the highest quality and relevance to make a long-term difference in society. Our most important assets are all the individuals whose curiosity and dedication make Uppsala University one of Sweden’s most exciting workplaces. Uppsala University has over 54,000 students, more than 7,500 employees and a turnover of around SEK 8 billion.

The Department of Women's and Children's Health is an international and multidisciplinary institution with a focus on women's, parents' and children's health and welfare. The global health perspective is always present, and we collaborate across professions and clinical areas, both in education and in research. The advertised position is linked to the research group International  Maternal & Reproductive Health and migration (IMHm). More information about the department and its activities can be found at .

This position is one of five doctoral positions in Uppsala University's graduate school in medical humanities. Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of medicine, pharmacy, humanities, art/literature and social sciences. It tackles issues such as the individual's experience of illness, the development of biomedical research and medical practices, and political perspectives on health care from different methodological and theoretical perspectives. Thus, the medical humanities create added value for biomedicine and healthcare by highlighting the social and cultural aspects of health and disease, and for the humanities and social sciences through a broader thematic approach to contemporary health-related societal challenges.

The graduate school aims to create an environment for interdisciplinary research linked to central societal challenges. Each doctoral student will work towards a degree in their own home discipline, but will also have an assistant supervisor from another discipline and incorporate perspectives from other fields in their work. The doctoral students will have an office space at the Center for Medical Humanities, and joint activities such as courses and workshops. This creates an interdisciplinary doctoral program, where doctoral students through supervisors from different disciplines, collegial exchange within the group, and courses receive support to develop their projects across disciplinary boundaries. Applicants for this position are therefore expected to be highly motivated to take part in the graduate school's activities and to acquire an interdisciplinary approach.

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The doctoral student will be part of the Medical Humanities graduate school and the research project will be carried out within an existing research project at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. The doctoral program includes four years of full-time studies. Other duties at the Department of Women's and Children's Health that relate to education and administrative work may occur (maximum 20%), which in that case extends the employment by the corresponding time.

The doctoral project will mainly include ethnographic field work and the analysis of legal documentation. The objective is to provide a holistic assessment of the role of medical experts in the implementation and enforcement of female genital cutting (FGC) laws and policies, with specific attention paid to how they balance their duties to the state and public interest with their duties to individual patients and minority communities. The medical ethnography will assess how the UK’s FGC safeguarding policy plays out in a healthcare setting, what the specific role of medical experts is, and what moral and professional conflicts they experience. The legal ethnography will examine what the role of medical testimony is in suspected FGC cases brought to courts worldwide and how the, at times conflicting, professional assessments of genitalia come about given the politically and morally charged nature of these cases. Concurrently with completing these research projects, the prospective PhD student will complete both obligatory and elective coursework and is expected to take part in research meetings at both the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health and the Medical Humanities research group.

The prospective PhD student should have:

  • Completed a medical degree
  • University-level studies in a relevant humanities/social sciences discipline (such as anthropology,  religious studies, sociology, or cultural studies)
  • Excellent ability to communicate in the English language, both orally and written.
  • Previous experience with and/or good knowledge of qualitative research methods
  • Previous experience with female genital cutting, either through clinical duties or research activities, and a demonstratable sensitivity regarding the political, cultural, and religious dimensions of the topic.
  • The ability to work independently and professionally in a group and to communicate with colleagues from different academic disciplines and professions
  • The ability to take initiative, deliver on time, meet promised "deadlines" and to pay attention to details
  • The willingness and means to conduct fieldwork in the United Kingdom
  • A keen interest in interdisciplinary research and strong motivation to be part of a research school in the medical humanities.

The position requires that the candidate is accepted within the postgraduate doctoral program. Read more about requirements and admission.

Additional qualifications
Other desirable qualifications the prospective PhD might have are:

  • Experience with scientific publishing
  • Previous collaboration in interdisciplinary teams
  • Experience with human subjects research, including research ethics board applications, recruitment, data collection, and data management
  • Demonstratable interest in the relationship between law, medicine, and society
  • Experience in the medical humanities or adjacent fields
  • A degree (B.A. or M.A.) in a relevant humanities/social sciences discipline in addition to the medical/biomedical degree

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines .

Your application should be written in English and include a CV, scientific publications, and a letter of motivation including a short description of yourself, your knowledge/skills and research interests as well as name, email and phone number to two reference persons. Please also attach copies of your relevant exam certificates and grades. The selection is based on how well the applicant meets the requirements as well as personal attributes and previous experience in relevant research area.

About the employment
The employment is a temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. Scope of employment 100 % for four years. Starting date January 2023. Placement: Uppsala

For further information about the position, please contact: Professor Birgitta Essén, phone: +46 (0)701679123, email:

Please submit your application by 1 September 2022, UFV-PA 2022/2713.

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Submit your application through Uppsala University's recruitment system.

Placement: Department of Women's and Children's Health

Type of employment: Full time , Temporary position longer than 6 months

Pay: Fixed salary

Number of positions: 1

Working hours: 100 %

Town: Uppsala

County: Uppsala län

Country: Sweden

Union representative: ST/TCO
Seko Universitetsklubben

Number of reference: UFV-PA 2022/2713

Last application date: 2022-09-01

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