Funded PhD opportunities

Talking about other people’s terror attacks

  • Application end date: 22nd January 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (UK students only)
  • Department: School of Languages and Area Studies
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Natalya Vince, Dr Mario Saraceni


ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP) funded. Project code: MLAS4260118

Project in brief 

This fully-funded studentship explores how the UK media reports on terrorist attacks in France and former French colonies, how the French media reports on terrorist attacks in the UK and former British colonies, and how countries such as Algeria and Nigeria report on these same events. What is the place of the colonial connection in reporting? How do colonial-era ‘zones of knowledge’ shape quantity and content? How is the colonial past used as an explanatory framework in analyses of terrorists and terrorism? Methodologies will be drawn from corpus-based critical discourse analysis. 

Specific Research Questions

There is an abundant literature on how terrorist attacks are reported on ‘at home’ in Europe and the US. It is also well known that terrorist attacks in the Global South receive far less coverage than those perpetrated in the Global North. Going beyond usual questions and critiques, this interdisciplinary project will provide key insights into how regimes of knowledge are produced from a multidirectional perspective. Notably, it will focus on how UK mainstream media outlets (print and online press, televised news and their social media accounts) report on terrorist attacks in France and in former French colonies (e.g. Algeria, Tunisia, Mali), how French mainstream media outlets report on terrorist attacks in the UK and in former British colonies (e.g. Nigeria, Kenya), and how these African countries report on these same terror attacks in the UK, France and amongst their African neighbours. The central question will be the place of the colonial connection in reporting. To what extent do colonial ‘zones of knowledge’ still apply – e.g. how is French reporting on Nigeria filtered through British media/experts or British reporting on Algeria filtered through French media/experts? Do similar ‘zones of knowledge’ apply in reverse when media outlets in Algeria or Nigeria report on terrorist attacks in Britain, France, Kenya or Mali? What place do journalists and experts give to colonial history as an explanation, amongst others, for terrorism in former colonies or ‘second generation radicalisation’ in France or Britain? How might this be useful, or problematic? The project will bring together quantitative and qualitative methodologies drawn from corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis to investigate the representation of other people’s terror attacks, alongside a series of case studies examining how reports are produced (training and trajectories of journalists, sources used, selection of experts, use of and interactions with social media). By analysing the kinds of knowledge produced when there is a more limited pool of expertise, less general knowledge amongst the public and seemingly lower political stakes, this project will provide a vital understanding of the blind spots, received ideas and mutual misunderstandings when reporting on terrorism in a global perspective, in order to better address these absences and incomprehensions. This engages directly with the ESRC’s key focus on global interconnectedness and its impacts (Delivery plan 2016-20, p. 2). 

Supervisor profiles

Dr Natalya Vince - Dr Natalya Vince Profile

Dr Mario Saraceni - Dr Mario Saraceni Profile

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. 

For all funding, students must have qualifications of the standard of a good honours degree at first or upper second-class level, from a UK academic higher education institution. Degree qualifications gained from outside the UK, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience that is equivalent to a relevant UK degree, may be accepted.

Before you apply, please make sure you meet the candidate specification.

Candidates do not need to submit a project proposal, however are required to submit a 500 word personal statement to include: 

  • Details of how your skills and interests match the project
  • Background and previous experience
  • Research interests

If you need to discuss this project and your application further then please contact a member of the supervision team as listed below, in advance of the deadline dates:

Dr Natalya Vince -

Dr Mario Saraceni -

Specific candidate requirements

The project requires excellent knowledge of the recent history and contemporary politics at least one of the countries in the study and good language skills in French. Prior knowledge of corpus linguistics and/or critical discourse analysis is desirable but not essential, as these skills can be taught to the student through the supervision team and relevant training days at the UoP Graduate School. Recruiting excellent DTP-level students with these skills is realistic.

There are two stages to the application process 

(1) The first application form you need to complete is for your chosen programme of study at the University of Portsmouth. 

Apply to the University of Portsmouth through our standard online application form and follow the instructions given under the ’Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages before you submit your SCDTP application: 

When applying to the University of Portsmouth, you will need to enter project code - MLAS4260118

The closing date for University of Portsmouth applications is 22 January 2018, 11.59 pm. 

(2) The second application form which requires completion is the South Coast DTP Funding Application Form. There are two versions of this form which can be downloaded. In accordance with the SCDTP guidance, please ensure you use the correct form (in this case the ’South Coast DTP Project Specific Application Form’). 

The ’South Coast DTP Project Specific Application Form’, and more information on the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership can be found at: 

You will then need to submit your funding application to the SCDTP by 31 January 2018, 11.59 pm. 

For more detailed information about the project, please see the university webpage: 


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Natalya Vince at or 023 9284 6145 and Dr Mario Saraceni - or 023 9284 6180.

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

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