School of Social and Political Science

University of Edinburgh / University of Leiden Joint Funded PhD Studentships


This studentship has now closed for applications.

We are announcing a new PhD training partnership in Science and Technology Studies between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leiden.

This strategic partnership between the Universities of Edinburgh and Leiden will offer:

  • two PhD studentships, fully funded for four years

These will be focused on:

  • ‘Responsible Metrics’ (Leiden based) 
  • ‘Coastal knowledge’ (Edinburgh based)

Aims of the collaboration

The aim is to foster collaboration and to build on existing synergies in the identified themes of this call. Our universities have a long record of collaborative research and teaching.

Students will have a supervisory team with members from each organisation, and it is anticipated that research exchanges between Leiden and Edinburgh will occur during the research with the expectation that you will spend time in each institution, with a minimum of 12 months in the second host institution.

At this time you can apply to undertake your research based at the University of Edinburgh (details for the Leiden position will follow later).

The selection process will involve an interview and students will be expected to commence their studies in January or September 2021.

Research topic

Coastal knowledge: analysing different ways of knowing the edges of the sea

Scottish history and culture is defined by its interactions with the sea, but recent challenges such as climate change, (plastic) pollution and biodiversity loss once again give prominence to the ways in which we inhabit, know and govern our coastal areas.

In Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters, we encourage you to think about the interface between land and sea as a space of exchange and connectivity that is continuously transformed, (re)shaped, and (re)valued.

Specifically, we are interested in these and similar questions:

  • Who makes, owns, accesses and uses specific forms of qualitative or quantitative coastal data and knowledge, with what means and to what ends?
  • Who decides which data is produced and how?

These questions can be tied to investigations into diverse (research) communities, policies, economic and artistic practices; changing coastal infrastructures – such as lighthouses, harbours, (defence) barriers, rigs – and biodiversity living on the edge, from birds to fish to algae.

Please feel free to develop your own specific ideas and questions related to this broader context, using a mixed methods approach.

We appreciate a Scottish focus, but with an understanding of a connected Scotland: to the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

Supervisory team

The joint Edinburgh/Leiden supervisory team has expertise in Science and Technology Studies (STS), science policy and scientometrics, including work on:

  • collaboration in marine biology and Scottish marine science policy (Niki Vermeulen, STIS/Edinburgh)
  • research governance, engagement and funding policy (Rob Smith, STIS/Edinburgh)
  • valuation studies and science in the Anthropocene (Thomas Franssen, CWTS/Leiden
  •  valuing and evaluation of ocean science through the ERC project Fluid Knowledge (Sarah de Rijcke, CWTS/Leiden)

The successful applicant will be awarded a four-year studentship, which includes:

  • your stipend - this will be set at the UKRI 2020/21 stipend rate
  • tuition fees

Funding also covers contributions towards travel and additional costs.


The studentship will be awarded competitively and is open to all candidates.

You be eligible for the studentship, you must have:

  • A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent


  • a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% or its international equivalent

English language proficiency

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

Full English language requirements can be found on the University degree finder.

Application Guidance

Requirements for the research proposal

The research proposal should be no more than 2,000 words (excluding references). It must include the following sections:


A general introduction to your research topic and idea, with an explanation of its significance. This should include the aims and the research question(s) to be addressed.


Situate the research within relevant academic literature(s). This should demonstrate how you connect the topic to your existing knowledge, new bodies of literature you would like to explore and their relation the proposed study.

For example, does your project seek to build on existing scholarship, challenge it, or fill a gap? You should also discuss theoretical issues relevant to your research. For example, what theoretical debates could your research relate to? Which theories do you want to apply, test or critique in your research?


Provide a detailed account of the methodologies that you would like to use to address your research questions, your sources of data, and an explanation for why these methods are most appropriate for the task.

Please note, it is not enough to simply say ‘quantitative’, ‘qualitative’ or ‘mixed-method’. You need to explain which specific methods you would want to use, which ones you know and what you would like to learn e.g. ethnography, interviews, archival research, data-analysis, scientometric analysis, etc.

You also need to be specific about your data sources. For example, if proposing archival research, which archives? If proposing an ethnography, where is your proposed field site?


You should bear in mind that your proposal will also be evaluated in terms of clarity and presentation, so leaving time for proof reading and ensuring that referencing is done to a high academic standard before submitting is strongly recommended.

The University has also produced a document entitled How to Write a Good Postgraduate Research Proposal, which gives useful advice.

We acknowledge it is difficult to be completely sure about every detail of a project at this early stage, but you need to demonstrate that you have an idea and a viable plan which you can elaborate on further in the first year of the PhD and in interaction with your supervisors.



This studentship has now closed for applications.

To apply for this studentship, you must send us:

  • a research proposal - no more than 2,000 words excluding references, related to the topic of coastal knowledge
  • an academic CV - to include full name, nationality, place of birth, and country of domicile
  • a letter of support from a relevant academic - for example a former supervisor or mentor
  • degree transcripts (translations should be provided if the original copy is not in English)

How to send your application

Important: You are required to provide the following information saved within one PDF file.

The PDF file should be emailed with the title ‘Coastal Knowledge Application’ to the following address by the application deadline:


Where information is missing, the application may not be considered.


More information

Queries regarding discipline or research topic-specific questions should be directed to:

General enquiries can be directed to:

Visit the Science and Technology Studies webpage.

Student category