Funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics, and Literature

Start dates

October 2021

Application deadline

4 May 2021 (12.00pm GMT)

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD to commence in October 2021. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Brigitte Leucht and Professor Wolfram Kaiser (University of Portsmouth), and Dr Sara Svensson (University of Halmstad).

Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees at the UK rate for three years and an annual stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£15,609 for 2021/22). Bursary recipients will also receive a £2,000 research allowance and an additional sum towards travel and accommodation costs associated with the split-site programme.

The work will include:

  • On-site supervision at the University of Portsmouth (where you will be based for the bulk of your PhD) and Halmstad University (where you will spend around 8-months);
  • Comprehensive research skills training; participation at postgraduate conferences; and an internship with a UK-based non-state actor
  • Data collection in both the UK and Scandinavia with a view to – 
    • Analyze how UK non-state actors and their Scandinavian partners assess the impact of Brexit on representing their members’ interests and on influencing national, European and global governance; and 
    • Explore ways in which UK non-state actors and their Scandinavian partners can mobilise resources to facilitate transnational policy learning and transfer in the future.
  • Preparation of at least one journal article for publication alongside the completion of the PhD thesis.

Brexit constitutes a huge rupture for UK politics and poses major challenges for UK non-state actors including political parties, trade unions, business groups and civil society organizations. Until now, these organized societal groups have operated in a European policy-making context with multiple transnational ties with like-minded organizations structured in large measure by the EU as a highly institutionalized site for resources (funding, knowledge, networks) and policy-making. These ties have also fostered other important functions such as the exchange and circulation of policy ideas. Crucially, strong bilateral and regional ties, which many UK non-state actors and Scandinavian partners have traditionally maintained, are embedded in multilateral EU-centred structures and practices. Such ties could now fragment as neither UK nor Scandinavian partners have the same immediate incentives to cooperate.

Against this backdrop, your PhD project will: analyze existing transnational ties of UK non-state actors with their Scandinavian counterparts; examine how formal ties and informal exchange relations are changing under the impact of Brexit; and help affected non-state actors identify how to retain meaningful links and draw on them for input into UK, European and global governance. 

You will be fully embedded within the ‘Transnational Civil Society’ strategic research group at the University of Portsmouth, which has an impressive track-record of research, publications, outreach events, impact and PhD completions.

Entry Requirements

You'll need a first-class or 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent if applying from outside the UK), or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject (preferably in a relevant Social Science discipline or European Studies). If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

  • A demonstrated interest in European Union Politics is a plus but not a pre-requisite; 
  • Fluency in English and, ideally, reading skills in one Scandinavian language.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Brigitte Leucht ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency (if required) and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SASH6090521 when applying.