PhD scholarship at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (UCPH)/ /ERC RITUAL DETERRENCE

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship at the Department of Political Science. Enrolment will be at the Faculty of Social Sciences under Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences. The position is part of the European Research Council Consolidator Grant project “Ritual Action: Making Deterrence Matter in International Security and Memory Politics” (RITUAL DETERRENCE; PI: Dr Maria Mälksoo).

The position starting date is on 1 September 2023.

The PhD programme provides PhD students with strong research training which opens up a window of opportunity to a variety of careers within the private and public sectors. The programme includes the drafting of a PhD thesis, active participation in research networks, PhD courses, teaching, and other forms of knowledge dissemination. The PhD is to be undertaken as a three-year full-time study within the framework of the 5+3 study programme.

RITUAL DETERRENCE project explores the role of ritual action in making deterrence effective and credible in international security politics between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War and in various contemporary contexts (NATO-Russia, US-Russia, US-China relations). The project combines a variety of qualitative methods (participant observation, interviews, discourse analysis), generating new knowledge about how deterrence is made to matter in international politics, and what deterrence does politically for the communities that practice it. We work at the intersection of International Relations, Critical Security Studies, Social Theory and Anthropology with an aim to offer a novel framework for the study of deterrence in military, political-diplomatic and legislative conflict management contexts through a range contemporary and historical case studies. The PhD scholar will contribute to the project by theorizing and analyzing the Russian understandings of deterrence (with a preferred emphasis on cyber and hybrid deterrence) and the US-Russia deterrence politics in the post-2014 era.   

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

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.

Information about the PhD study programme is also available on the PhD website of the Department of Political Science:

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

You should meet the following requirements:

  • An excellent master degree in the fields of Political Science, International Relations, Security Studies, and/or International History (or in another relevant discipline), with an interest in interdisciplinary research.
  • A strong PhD proposal with a research focus in one or more of the following areas: cyber security and deterrence, hybrid threats/warfare and deterrence, US-Russia relations, information and political influence operations, strategic studies, International Relations and/or Social Theory.
  • Excellent command of English and a working ability in Russian.
  • Interest in fieldwork, discourse and practice analysis (fieldwork funds will be provided by the project).
  • Proficient communication skills and an ability to work independently as well as in teams. 


  • 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.  

Scholarship in the 5+3 study programme   

The 5+3 PhD study programme 
In order to be eligible for a scholarship in the 5+3 PhD study programme the applicant must have completed a two-year MSc degree programme, or have earned 120 ECTS credits at an equivalent academic level before starting his or her employment. Applicants should check the study programmes for more detailed descriptions of the entry requirements. PhD students are paid a salary in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). The PhD student has a work obligation of up to 840 hours over the 3-year period of time without additional pay. The work obligation can include for instance teaching.  

How to apply
Submit a complete application at our online portal. Click on the “Apply now” icon at the bottom of the page to apply. The documents must be in Adobe PDF or Word.

  • Project abstract (Please fill in the project abstract in the application form. Must not exceed 1.200 characters.)
  • Cover Letter (detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project)
  • Project description (recommended no more than 12,000 keystrokes not including bibliography) 
  • CV   
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)   
  • Time schedule 
  • Budget 
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications, documentation of English language qualifications (if any)  

Please note that it is only possible to upload one document per attachment category. If more than one document has to be uploaded in the same category, please make sure that they are scanned and collected into one file.  

Application process
On the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences you will find information about the application process, and enclosures to include with your electronic application:

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. Research qualifications as reflected in the project proposal. 

2. Quality and feasibility of the project.  

3. Qualifications and knowledge in relevant subfield to the RITUAL DETERRENCE project. 

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

5. Department of Political Science can offer adequate supervision for the research topic in question. 

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

An Equal Opportunity Workplace
The University of Copenhagen is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to creating an inclusive working environment and therefore encourages all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of personal background, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity etc. For more on the diverse working place environment at the University and the University’s participation in the HRS4R HR Excellence in Research, see

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 from HR, Dorthea Andersen, e-mail:, please refer to ID number 211-1222/22-2H #1.

Additional information about the position can be obtained from Dr Maria Mälksoo, e-mail:, phone +45 35331157

The closing date for applications is 1 March 2023 at 23:59 (CET).

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.


Application deadline: 01-03-2023
Employment start: 01-09-2023
Department/Location: Institut for Statskundskab
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