School of Social and Political Science

Academics beyond Borders


The Academics beyond Borders scheme provides remote academic support for PhD students affected by conflicts and/or repression. Through the scheme, PhD students enrolled in universities in countries affected by conflict or repressive regimes can enrol as "remote visiting students" at our University and receive support at a distance:

  • remote doctoral supervision by academics of the School of Social and Political Science
  • online academic mentoring from either a fellow postgraduate student or a member of staff from the School of Social and Political Science
  • access to the University’s electronic library resources

Call for applications from PhD students enrolled in Ukrainian universities

Our Academics beyond Borders initiative is now offering 14 remote places for PhD candidates whose research at their home universities is being affected by the war on Ukraine. The programme aims to provide participants with additional support to work independently and maintain links with the international academic community for 12 months. It is not a degree-granting programme. All 14 places are funded by the University of Edinburgh, therefore there are no fees for students we accept onto the scheme.

If you are enrolled as a PhD student in social/political science at a Ukrainian university, whatever your nationality and current location, if your studies are affected in one way or another by the war and if you think you would benefit from temporary remote supervision and mentoring, please apply (see application procedure below).

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us!

In solidarity,

Academics beyond Borders team (



The scheme is meant for PhD students enrolled in Ukrainian universities, whatever their nationality and current location. Applicants should be postgraduate research students in the social and political sciences, and ideally advanced in their studies as we would not be able to provide the kind of supervision required at the beginning of doctorate studies or for fieldwork.

We currently only have the capacity to supervise in English, so for effective supervision, you also need to be able to express yourself in English so as to have a conversation with your volunteer supervisor and mentor; and to write texts in English if you would like your volunteer supervisor to provide feedback on them.

The other important factor in taking candidates on to the programme is our ability to find appropriate supervision for your area of research. Please check the areas of expertise of our supervisors below, as we can only offer places to students whose PhD areas correspond to one or various of these, see whether any is relevant to your PhD and let us know which. If this is not the case, our scheme will be of little help and we won’t be able to offer you a place.

Please also discuss your application with your current supervisor if possible.

Application procedure

Please download the application form here, fill it in and provide the required documents – we have kept them to a minimum, but they will help us assess whether we are in a position to help you. You will see that we ask you to provide

(1) any document giving evidence of your university study at graduate (PhD) level;

(2) the name and contact details of your current main PhD supervisor together with a brief letter from him/her if at all possible, explaining how they think you would benefit from this programme. If you are unable to provide this, we ask that you briefly explain why on the form and give the name and contact details of someone able to provide a reference (preferably an academic reference in English);

(3) a filled out application form that can be downloaded below, including

  • a personal statement (one page maximum, written in English, explaining to us in broad terms how your studies have been affected by the war, and why you think you would benefit from our programme); and
  • a Research Summary and Plan (2 pages maximum, written in English, outlining your work so far and your plans for the upcoming 12 months).

Please send it all by email to, indicating ‘Visiting Postgraduate Research – Academics beyond Borders’ in the subject of your email.

We encourage applications by Tuesday 16 August 2022, for a start of the programme by 1 October 2022 at the University of Edinburgh, but the call will remain open beyond that date, as we will fill the places on the basis of need and our capacity to respond.

We hope that you find the scheme helpful, and that this email and the guidance are clear – but please email our group at if you have any questions.

Areas of expertise of volunteer supervisors at the School of Social and Political Science

African Studies/ International development

  • Political economy of development in Africa, economic development, industrial policy, governance and economic development, state-business relations, political economy of institutions in Africa (with more specific expertise in Tanzania/east Africa)
  • Displacement and development, Theory of social justice and injustice, Governance and dispossession

Social Anthropology

  • Medical anthropology
  • Mental health
  • The state, law, and justice
  • Kinship, relationships, marriage
  • Sexuality
  • Collective/social memory, identity, politics of history, museums, heritage sites, ruins and materiality
  • Anthropology and humanities-related topics or methods (film, literature, art, etc.)
  • The anthropology of cities or, more generally, space
  • Anthropology and Philosophy
  • The anthropology of Southeast Asia
  • The anthropology of North America


  • Emotions, families and relationships
  • Gender and politics    
  • Illicit drug use and regulation, smart drugs, drug and alcohol use and policy
  • Digital sociology: the darknet, cybercrime, cryptoculture, illicit markets
  • Information policy, information society, network society, social aspects of information and telecommunications technology, privacy and surveillance
  • Social theory (Philosophy of social science, Sociology of Knowledge, Human non-human relations, Risk society, Rawls, Habermas, Daniel Bell, Manuel Castells, R. H. Tawney, democratic socialism, and related topics of social and political theory or philosophy)
  • Sociology of culture (broadly understood and more specifically regarding the sociology of elites, sociology of religion, the sociology of literature, books, reading and writing, and culture and society in Latin America).
  • History of science
  • Sociology of education, social stratification
  • Critical approaches to liberalism, secularism and the politics of difference
  • Religious coexistence/encounters
  • Social movements, Caste and politics in India
  • Islam/Muslims in Europe
  • Statistics and quantitative projects, network analysis, social statistic

Environmental sociology, sustainability

  • Environmental sociology, Society and environment
  • Environmental policy and governance, natural resource management, forest management and use, stakeholder analysis and engagement
  • Social aspects of renewable energy 

Science Technology and Innovation Studies

  • Histories, expectations, and policy making/regulation of artificial intelligence
  • Studies of the internet, robotics, online platforms, and relevant computing technologies
  • Information science, cybernetics

Politics and International Relations

  • European security and foreign policy
  • Politics of post-Soviet space, including Russian domestic and foreign policy
  • Politics of Moldova
  • European (radical) left-wing politics
  • European populism
  • Theories of oppression
  • Political emotions
  • Political memory
  • Art and politics
  • Gender

 Social Policy

  • Inequalities in children’s health and wellbeing
  • The practice of policy and policy making (especially in healthcare, community development, education, social services, migration)

Social Work

  • Integration of refugees and asylum seekers, political discourse relating to refugees and asylum seekers
  • Restorative justice
  • Social work responses to offending behaviour