Funded PhD opportunities

The (non)representational politics of Brexit: A case study of Southern England Local Partners’ (SELP) responses to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

  • Application end date: 11th February 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (EU/UK students only)
  • Department: School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Mark Field, Dr Nora Siklodi, Dr Karen Heard-Laureote

Project code: HPSS4110218

Project description

Much has been written about how European integration and the increased cooperation between nation states has created new opportunities for the inclusion of civil society organisations (CSOs) in local, regional, national, transnational and European Union (EU) level policy-making processes. By providing expertise and enhancing the representativeness of these processes, the inclusion of CSOs has been deemed to greatly improve the democratic credentials and legitimacy of the policies reached. As a result of the significant impact granted to CSOs, considerable public funding has been allocated to ensure that their inclusion – in particular the inclusion of experts and public interest representatives - is replicated and even institutionalised in European states. The British EU referendum result - which has set on course the Brexit process, the first exemplar of European disintegration - poses an important challenge to CSOs’ role and involvement in future transnational and EU-level policy-making, especially to CSOs based in the United Kingdom (UK). It is thus important to consider how the Brexit negotiations and the final Brexit scenario affects the strategies and workings of CSOs, and how CSOs respond to key issues affected by Brexit, such as citizenship and democracy.

The main thrust of the PhD project explores how one CSO - Southern England Local Partners (SELP) - adapts its strategies and workings in the turbulent ‘Brexit’ context. Established in 2007, SELP is a partnership comprising 40 organisations from Southern England, including Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Universities - including the University of Portsmouth (UoP) - and other public and private stakeholders. Through its Brussels office, SELP provides its members with access to transnational and EU level strategic contacts, networks and partnerships, with an explicit objective of maximising the opportunities offered by the UK's EU membership. Due to the UK’s impending exit, SELP must now adopt its strategy and revise its objective, providing a timely setting for this PhD project. 

The project will have two key strands. First, it will evaluate the ongoing ‘Brexit’ negotiations between the UK and the EU, with a view to analysing their impact on SELP members, helping them anticipate necessary institutional adjustments. To this end, it is expected that the student will undertake critical discourse analysis of primarily EU and UK based policy papers and media sources. Second, it will investigate the perceptions and preferences of SELP members and their strategies to developing effective and timely responses to Brexit developments. To this end, the student will complete a content analysis of the ever-expanding SELP strategic and policy papers and publications; conduct participant observations at relevant meetings; and interview key SELP members. It is anticipated thatthe PhD project will raise awareness among local, regional, transnational and EU partners to the changing circumstances in which CSOs operate and their responses to Brexit. The findings are going to be shared within SELP members as well, through a dedicated web presence, local and regional seminars and conferences organised by the PhD student in collaboration with SELP and Hampshire CC. The opportunities for dialogue between the student and SELP partners and members add a crucial policy impact element to the project. 

The supervisory team already has in place a professional working relationship with SELP that will provide the prospective student with access to the necessary resources through which s/he can undertake the empirical research of this PhD project. Since SELP has a key role in providing ‘representative’-ness to an allegedly alienating EU - at least from a UK perspective - and, in the apparent return to the British nation state, to transnational policy making, the PhD project has the potential to also add to the budding literature on how these intertwining processes shape citizens’ representation and participation in democratic processes. 

Supervisor profiles

Dr Mark Field

Dr Nora Siklodi

Dr Karen Heard-Laureote

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.  


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Mark Field at (02392 842163) or Dr Nora Siklodi at (02392 842223).

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at  You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

When applying, please quote project code: HPSS4110218

Interview date: TBC

Start date: October 2018.

Funding notes

The fully-funded, full-time three-year studentship provides a stipend that is in line with that offered by Research Councils UK of £14,553 per annum.

The above applies for Home/EU students only. 

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