University of Southern Denmark

PhD Scholarship for Research Project “DelibRef”

2024-05-01 (Europe/Copenhagen)
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Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD scholarship in political science to be based at the Department of Political Science and Public Management at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense.

The position will be part of a newly funded research project entitled “Let the people rule, but let them talk first. How deliberative referendums can benefit representative government (DelibRef)”, led by Associate professor Davide Morisi and funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.

The planned starting date for the position is 1 September 2024.

The Project

DelibRef focuses on the impact of referendums on representative government at both local and national level in different countries. The project involves a small team, including the principal investigator Davide Morisi, a Postdoctoral fellow, a PhD candidate, and student assistants. The PhD position will be related to the entire project, with a particular focus on Subproject 1.

The main question driving DelibRef is how can referendums benefit representative government from a citizen perspective? The project addresses this question by focusing on deliberative referendums, a key innovation that so far has been mostly confined to theoretical debate. Deliberative referendums combine the benefits of deliberation with the powerful voting device of referendums, making them a scalable intervention with potentially large societal impact.

In Subproject 1 we will conduct field experiments in at least one mid-size municipality in Denmark, and, ideally, another mid-size municipality in another country. In the experiment, a group of residents will discuss a policy proposal concerning a relevant issue in a sort of mini-public, and will then vote in a fictional referendum on the proposal. Another group of citizens will simply vote on the proposal without being part of the mini-public. We will then test the effect of deliberative referendums on different outcomes, including trust in institutions and political participation at the local level.

In Subproject 2 we will conduct survey experiments in six countries/states in Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. Using the method of the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CRI), in each country/state we will select small citizen juries that deliberate on a ballot initiative. We will then conduct survey experiments with nationally representative samples in which some respondents will receive the outcome of the citizen juries before voting on the ballot initiative, while others will simply vote without receiving any information. The respondents will then reply to different outcome measures similar to those included in Subproject 1. 

The project includes a scientific advisory board with internationally recognized scholars, in addition to a series of outreach activities, such as research visits, international conferences and workshops. For further details on the project, see a brief description here.

The ideal applicant 

To qualify for the PhD scholarship, you must hold a master’s degree in political science or a related discipline, and be able to outline an individual research proposal (see below). 

The ideal candidate will have 

  • strong quantitative methods skills,
  • knowledge of software for data analysis (Stata and/or R),
  • basic knowledge of experimental designs,
  • interest in the fields of political behaviour and democratic representation (including deliberative and direct democracy),
  • proficiency in Danish to carry out surveys and/or interviews with Danish citizens.

We are looking for candidates who are able to work independently in consultation with the PhD supervisor. Candidates are also expected to have good interpersonal skills, be interested in engaging with the national and international research community, be present and contribute to the academic and social environments at the department.

PhD project proposal

Applicants are expected to include a proposal for a research project broadly related to Subproject 1. In the research proposal, you should describe your ideas related to democratic representation and the effects of referendums. 

When preparing your PhD project proposal, you are strongly advised to familiarize yourself with the project, and you may consult with the project coordinator Davide Morisi. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to consult the general guidelines for preparing a project proposal at the PhD School's webpage, and to familiarize themselves with the departments' Scholarly Qualification Matrix and strategy.

About the Department and the Danish Centre for Welfare Studies

As a PhD Student, you will become a member of the Department's Public Administration, Welfare and Politics unit, and the Danish Centre for Welfare Studies (DaWS). Established in 2005 as a cross-disciplinary research center, DaWS is an internationally recognized and dynamic research group. We emphasize scientific curiosity, high-quality research, and team spirit. Ongoing research at DaWS covers topics such as political economy, public policy, comparative politics, and administration, and outcomes and effects of welfare policies as well as the history and developments of the welfare state. The research group covers a broad range of themes and methods.

The Department of Political Science and Public Management believes in fostering a stimulating and inspiring environment for both faculty members and students. The department's ambition is therefore to recruit, develop, and retain talented scholars committed to both academic excellence and departmental development. Furthermore, the department wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and, thus, welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

For more information about the department organization, research, and teaching, please visit the website.

Requirements and programme structure

PhD candidates follow an individual PhD plan including course work, conference participation, and teaching. One semester is typically spent at another research institution - often abroad. The scholarship carries a monthly salary including pension plus office facilities and financial support for conference travels and research visits abroad. Conditions of employment will be in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and AC, the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations for academics in the Danish state.

If selected for the position, you will be enrolled in the PhD programme in Political Science, Journalism, or Social Sciences. Applications are invited from candidates with a master's degree (the 5+3 programme over 3 years). Employment as a salaried PhD student is governed by the agreement of December 20, 2021 on the collective agreement for academics in the state - appendix 5, protocol on PhD Research Fellows.

For further information about the PhD programme, please contact PhD coordinator, Professor Arjen van Dalen, phone +45 6550 4417, e-mail
For further information about the research project, please contact Associate professor Davide Morisi, phone +45 6550 8927, e-mail

Application and assessment process

An application must include:

  • Application form
  • A PhD project proposal of no more than 12,000 characters in total, including spaces, notes, appendices, bibliography etc. The project description must be anonymized, i.e. it may not reveal your name or identity in any way. The total number of characters including spaces of the project description must be stated on the first page of the project description.
  • An abstract for the above project description of no more than 250 words, to be submitted on a separate sheet/page.
  • A detailed CV (max. 2 pages)
  • A copy of your master's degree certificate including all examination results.
  • A copy of your bachelor's degree certificate.
  • Information on experience with teaching, dissemination, or scientific publication, if applicable.
  • Reference letters are not needed.  

The project proposal and the project abstract must be written in English. All non-Danish documents must be translated into English.

Documents should not contain a CPR number (civil registration number) – in this case, the CPR number must be crossed out.

Applications that are incomplete with regard to the above requirements may be rejected without any substantive evaluation.

Shortlisting may be used in the assessment process.

Shortlisted applications will be assessed by an internal committee. When the assessment committee has submitted its report, the candidate will receive the part of the evaluation that concerns them. The assessment report is subsequently forwarded to the Head of Department who assembles an appointment committee and determines if one or more of the qualified applicants should be invited to a job interview. The appointment committee will manage and complete job interviews and advise the Head of Department on which candidate(s) should be offered appointment.

Applications must be submitted electronically using the link "Apply now". Uploaded files must be in Adobe PDF format. The application and CV must not exceed 10 MB.

Read the guideline for applicants 

Job details

PhD Scholarship for Research Project “DelibRef”
Campusvej 55 Odense, Denmark
Application deadline
2024-05-01 23:59 (Europe/Copenhagen)
2024-05-01 23:59 (CET)
Job type
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About the employer

SDU welcomed the first students onto the campus in Odense in September 1966, and things have been developing by leaps and bounds ever since.

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