Two generously funded PhD positions on Mediating (Semi-)Authoritarianism – The Power of the Internet in the Post-Soviet World

by: koenleurs

The Emmy Noether research group on Mediating (Semi-)Authoritarianism – The Power of the Internet in the Post-Soviet World invites applications for two fully funded PhD positions (up to four years), starting in early or mid-2015. The research group will be based at the Institute for Media and Communications Studies at the Free University Berlin. It is being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) from October 2014 to September 2019.

The five-year project investigates the interrelations of internet-mediated communication and politics in the post-Soviet region, with a strong comparative focus on three countries: Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. It draws primarily on qualitative methods of communication research, but also employs quantitative approaches. Comparisons are structured around a series of key theoretical concepts, including the decoding of news items, counterpublics, critical news literacy, and political representation. Additional information about the project can be found at www.mediating-authoritarianism.net.

Job Description / Duties and Responsibilities

·         Pursuing independent research: Applicants will be expected to develop, design, and accomplish independent research that will qualify them for the award of a PhD degree. The topic of the candidate’s independent doctoral research should be closely related to the central topic of the research group. Thus, ideally, their independent research will strongly benefit from synergies with research carried out in the framework of the research group.

·         Contributing to the success of the research group: PhD students will play an important role as members of the Emmy Noether group. They will make strong, creative, and independent contributions to the project by helping to refine the overall research design, as well as by collecting, analysing, and interpreting data. They will contribute as (co-)authors to publications of the research group. One of the two PhD positions announced here will focus on data collection and analysis with regard to Belarus, the other with regard to Ukraine.

·         Administration, outreach & teaching: The project group will organize a small number of public events (approximately one event per year), seek to host visiting scholars from across the globe, and maintain a website that includes a blog. It will also be involved in teaching at the Institute of Media and Communications Studies at Free University Berlin (a maximum of one course in each semester). Although routine tasks in these areas will be carried out by a student assistant, PhD candidates will be expected to take on management responsibilities and other leading roles in this work. 

Person Specification / Selection Criteria

·         A Masters degree or equivalent in Media and Communications or a related discipline such as Sociology, Political Science, or Psychology (essential). Highly- motivated candidates with or without prior work experience are strongly encouraged to apply.

·         Experience in qualitative and/or quantitative social science research methods.

·         Evidence of in-depth knowledge and understanding of the candidate’s own field of study, which will ideally be related to political communication (essential).

·         Fluency in English (essential), either Ukrainian or Belarusian (essential), and Russian (desirable). Willingness to acquire practical knowledge of German in the course of the project (essential).

·         Evidence of ability and willingness to work as part of a team (essential).

·         Evidence of strong self-management skills, as required to successfully complete a four-year PhD project (essential).

·         Evidence of flexibility, autonomy, and creativity (essential).

·         Evidence of strong communication skills (desirable).

·         Evidence of strong analytical and critical skills and clear academic writing (desirable).


Salary and Working Conditions

·         The two PhD positions in the Emmy Noether research group come with an internationally highly competitive salary, which will be stipulated in accordance with the German collective agreement for the public sector (TV-L E 13 at a 0.65 full time equivalent). Depending on the candidate’s work experience, the initial annual salary will thus be at least 26,814 Euros (increase pending). From this gross salary, contributions to the German pension scheme, health assurance, and other social insurances will be automatically deducted. Depending on the family situation, the PhD candidate’s initial net salary will thus amount to at least 1,600 Euros a month (approximately 2,150 USD).  

·         The Emmy Noether group will offer PhD candidates a vibrant and international academic environment with flat hierarchies. In the course of the project, they will receive hands-on training in pursuing internationally competitive communication research. At the same time, they will be intensely supervised and supported by the leader of the research group, members of academic staff at the Free University Berlin, and international scholars affiliated with the project in pursuing their independent PhD research. PhD candidates will be encouraged to pursue their own ideas, make strong individual contributions to the success of the research project, and develop an emerging track record of independent academic publications that will qualify them to pursue a subsequent academic career.

·         The two PhD positions will have access to generous subsidies for conference travel, fieldwork, and external academic training.   

How to Apply

Additional information about the project can be found at www.mediating-authoritarianism.net. To apply, we recommend providing the following documents:

·         CV.

·         Letter of motivation (maximum two pages) stating why you would like to pursue a PhD within the research group, potential topic of your PhD, type of research you could imagine pursuing, and how you think you could contribute to the success of the project. Please also provide evidence with regard to selection criteria listed above.

·         One to three samples of academic writing (course work, your BA or MA thesis, etc.)

·         Relevant school certificates and university diplomas (certificate of qualification for university matriculation, BA and MA diplomas, or equivalents).

·         Contact details and phone numbers of two or three referees (at least one academic).   

Please send your applications to the group leader Dr Florian Toepfl at f.toepfl@fu-berlin.de. The application deadline is 15.12.2014. Ideally, the two PhD candidates will be employed in early or mid-2015. We very much look forward to receiving your applications! 



19-11-2014 - 31-12-2014


Free University Berlin




15 Dec 2014 22:59