PhD Position in Populism and Democratic Defence in Europe

Roskilde University Department of Social Sciences and Business


The position will be filled according to the Agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC) and Job Structure for Academic Staff at Universities.  

Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University, invites applications for a position as PhD on Populism and Multilevel governance in Europe from 1st of September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. The position as PhD is limited to a period of 3 years.

Description of the PhD project

The position is part of the ‘Populism and Democratic Defence in Europe’ Project, funded by the Carlsberg Foundation’s Challenges for Europe programme (CF20-0008). The project is led by Professor (MSO) Angela Bourne, in collaboration with scholars from Aarhus University, Lund University and Universities of Wroclaw and Warsaw in Poland. The aim of the project is to identify how liberal democracies can respond to populist pressures in a way that is both effective and legitimate. It combines empirical case studies examining the effectiveness of national and supranational (European) initiatives against populist parties and normative analysis of the consistency of these initiatives with liberal democratic values. For a full description of the project, please contact Angela Bourne (

The doctoral student is expected to undertake an empirical analysis of the nature and effects of initiatives opposing populism in Denmark and Sweden. More specifically, the PhD student will examine how Danish and Swedish public authorities, political parties and civil society groups – as well as EU institutions, member states, and transnational organizations – engage with the Danish People’s Party and Sweden Democrats. The project will examine whether initiatives engaging with populists - where relevant - reduce the ability of populist parties to implement anti-democratic or illiberal policies; induce populist parties’ ideological moderation; undermine their organizational resources or intraparty cohesion; or undermine the legitimacy of populist claims. Initiatives opposing such coalitions include legal initiatives like criminal prosecutions for abuse of office, racism or hate-speech; political initiatives like exclusion – or alternatively – integration of populist parties in governing arrangements, and cultural initiatives, including social movement counter-mobilizations against populist parties, information campaigns and civic education programmes.

The doctoral student is expected to carry out this research in a way that benefits the general framework and goals of the project. This entails contributing to the development of theoretical knowledge about responses to populism and collecting new data about initiatives deployed against populists, and evaluating their effects. It is expected that the candidate will be able to undertake fieldwork in both countries, the costs of which are covered by the project. The PhD student is expected to live in Denmark during the semester.

The Doctoral School

You will be enrolled as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Social Sciences and Business. We provide PhD training and research within an interdisciplinary, international, and professional environment. The school is divided into four sub-programs: International Studies, Business Studies, Public Administration and Social Studies.

As a PhD student you will be associated with the programme International Studies. The PhD in International Studies provides an opportunity to examine politics, societies and cultures around the world and how they interact. Faculty in this programme come from across the social sciences (political science, sociology, anthropology, geography, economics) and projects typically emphasize interdisciplinary approaches to international development studies, global studies, or area studies.  Our aim in the International Studies PhD programme is to educate thoughtful and analytical thinkers who are able to understand and engage in the world around them.  Our programme focuses on developing highly systematic thinkers whether they use qualitative or quantitative methods, and we prioritize the combination of holistic analysis and academic rigor. PhD students in International Studies come from a wide variety of Masters level programmes around the world. They engage their scholarship with international academic communities and spend some portion of their time during the PhD engaging in fieldwork abroad. Please read more :

You will furthermore become associated with the research group Globalization and Europeanization:

Responsibilities and tasks

The PhD position is an educational position and the main tasks are in accordance with chapter 3, Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities and Certain Higher Artistic Educational Institutions (,


You must hold a master’s degree or equivalent within political sciences, international studies, European studies or sociology. Qualifications within the following areas are required

  • Proficiency in one of the Scandinavian languages, preferably Swedish or Danish

We also emphasize the following qualifications:

  • Knowledge of basic contours of Danish, Swedish and EU politics
  • Knowledge of debates about the meaning and consequences of populism in Europe
  • Knowledge of basic methods of comparative politics

You are required to be enterprising and to possess good communication skills and to be a visible, involved participant in the department’s daily activities, in addition to being willing to engage in disciplinary and interdisciplinary collaboration across the department.


In the assessment regarding employment consideration will be given to;

  • Relevant Master’s degree or equivalent (according to Danish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education:
  • Any additional academic requirements stated in the job advertisement.
  • A five page project description, summarizing core concepts, the research design, analytical strategies, data collection methods and challenges entailed for a PhD project on the topic ‘Responses to populism in Multilevel Europe: The cases of Denmark and Sweden’ (as described above)

In the assessment regarding appointment consideration will also be given to the following criteria:

  • Educational skills and any further professional qualifications
  • Grades at Master’s programme or equivalent
  • Quality and relevance of the project descriptionQuality and relevance of the methodical and theoretical choices
    • Considerations regarding knowledge of conceptual debates, empirical cases and normative debates on populism in contemporary Europe shall be included in your project description
    • Your project description shall be no more than five pages 
  • Consistency and coherence between the problem and the choice of method and theory
  • If the PhD project seem realistic and feasible
  • Ability to complete the PhD project
  • Relevance of the project to the profile of the Doctoral School


For further information about the position, please contact Angela Bourne, or +45 4674 3254. For administrative questions, please contact PhD coordinator Annika Mogensen, or +45 4674 3499.

Terms of employment

The employment is on full time, 37 hours per week, and you will refer to Head of Department Peter Kragelund.

The position will be filled according to the Agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC) and Job Structure for Academic Staff at Universities.

Application procedure

After the deadline for applications the Head of Department will shortlist applicants for assessment with assistance from the recruitment committee including the chairperson of the assessment committee.

Shortly after the application deadline all applicants will be notified whether or not their application has been selected for assessment.

The shortlisted applicants will be informed about the composition of the assessment committee, and each applicant will be given the opportunity to comment on the composition of the committee and - later on - their assessment.

Once the recruitment process is completed, all applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application.

To apply for the position go to

Only applications in English are accepted. 

Applications must include: 

1. Cover letter
2. CV
3. Documentation of education including grades from Master’s programme or equivalent
4. Your description of the PhD project
5. Your time schedule of the PhD project
6. If applicable: Documentation for any research experience, work experience or publications. 

Please submit your application no later than April 13, 2020.

Material received after this date will not be taken into consideration. 

Roskilde University wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. 

Application due date
Instititut for Samfundsvidenskab og Erhverv
Ph.d. stillinger
Angela Bourne
Annika Mogensen

In your application, please refer to


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