School of Social and Political Science

University of Edinburgh –University of Leiden Joint Funded PhD Studentship Religion and Mobility in the African City


This PhD Scholarship is not running in the current Admissions cycle. Applications have now closed. Online interviews are expected in March/April 2022. 

We are announcing a new three-year PhD scholarship for a project co-supervised between the University of Edinburgh Centre of African Studies (CAS) and the African Studies Centre at the University of Leiden (ASCL) to begin in September 2022.

The successful applicant will be based at the University of Edinburgh, PhD programme in African Studies, and will be co-supervised by Dr Barbara Bompani and Prof Rijk van Dijk.

This PhD position is linked to the CAS-ASCL joint doctoral programme on urban studies in Africa and the successful applicant will be expected to take part in the exchanges that this programme features together with the fellow PhD students who are already part of the programme. Supervisory meetings with both supervisors will regularly run online while there will be opportunities for in person meetings with supervisors in Edinburgh and in Leiden during mutual exchange visits.

Research topic

Undoubtedly, religion plays an important and creative role in shaping the African public spheres and urban spaces. The successful doctoral project will focus on the dynamic and evolving nature of religion in African cities, with a specific focus on issues of mobility in Southern Africa.

Drawing from different fields of analysis (e.g., anthropology, urban studies, human geography, politics, development, sociology, religious studies, migration studies etc.) the successful application should centre analysis on how religion and urbanism mutually shape each other in contemporary Southern African settings. The project may consider Christianity, Islam, African Traditional Religions (ATRs) or other organised or non-organised religious groups, individually or comparatively.

Applicants are encouraged to critically address the idea of mobility, as it is often explored as mainly movement of people. However, in the specific domain of religion, movements of many things occur: ideas, objects, rituals, symbols, images, organisations, spirits, deities etc. The successful application is invited to look at one or more aspects of these plural forms of mobility in an innovative way. Given the latest developments within the study of religion in Africa, applications are therefore expected to look at new approaches to, and/or new fields in, the study of religion and mobility, including for example debates on the rising critical discontent towards certain religious promises of wealth, financial accumulation, or healing.  New challenges emerge in relation to public concerns and particular responses, or in relation to movement across different religious denominations or towards the abandonment of religion, concomitant with an increase in secular spaces, public secularity, critique and shifting paradigms of religious morality.

The use of innovative methods in the study of this multi-layered and multidisciplinary project are also encouraged.

For the doctoral project, applicants are expected to spend a considerable amount of time in the field (between 8 and 12 months) in the second year of the PhD programme. Therefore, a plan and a timeframe of the project with careful consideration of case studies and where fieldwork will be undertaken, are expected in the proposal. 


The successful applicant will be awarded a three-year studentship, which includes their stipend and tuition fees. The stipend will be set at the UKRI 2022/23 stipend rate. Funding also covers contributions towards travel and additional costs.


The studentship will be awarded competitively and are open to all candidates. A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% or its international equivalent.

English language proficiency

You must have 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.


Requirements for the research proposal:

The research proposal should be no more than 2,000 words (4 pages in total, excluding references). It must include the following sections:

Overview: 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.

Context: 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?

Methodology: 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?

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

Email the PDF file with the email subject title ‘Religion and Mobility’ to the following address by the application deadline -

  • A letter of support from a relevant academic, e.g. former supervisor or mentor.
  • Degree transcripts (translations should be provided if the originals are not in English)
  • A research proposal of no more than 2,000 words, excluding references. The proposal should relate to the topic as detailed above.
  • Academic CV to include full name, nationality, place of birth and country of domicile.

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.

Applicants should bear in mind that their proposals 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:

The deadline for applications is 5pm 1st March 2022.

Applicants are required to provide the following information saved WITHIN ONE PDF FILE.

More information

The successfully funded student will be asked to apply online for the PhD African Studies for September 2022 entry.

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

General enquiries can be directed to 

Centre of African Studies -

African Studies Centre Leiden - 


Student category