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Leverhulme Trust PhD Studentship

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to invite applications for a full-time PhD Studentship in moral and political philosophy to commence in October 2018. The studentship is part of the “Investigating the Ethics and Politics of Sociability” project led by Prof. Kimberley Brownlee and funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The Project aims to solidify a new field of study in moral and political philosophy on the ethics of sociability. The ethics of sociability covers a range of themes including: 1) the reasons and duties we have to provide decent social contact to each other, 2) the social rights we may assert, 3) the implications of sociability for personal freedoms such as freedom of association, 4) the virtues in being sociable, and 5) the value of social inclusion.

Project Details

The Sociability Project will explore conceptual and ethical implications of taking seriously the fact that we are deeply social creatures who need to live near and with each other in order to survive and flourish. It will study key concepts such as loneliness and the need to belong, as well as analyse the boundaries between social duty and virtue. It will apply an analysis of social rights, duties, and virtues to three specific areas of moral and political concern: 1) sociability and disability, 2) interspecies sociability, and 3) globalized sociability.

Applicants for the PhD studentship are invited to be creative in preparing their research proposal. The successful applicant will demonstrate how their proposed PhD thesis aligns with the broad objectives of the Sociability Project. All relevant details about the Project’s aims and objectives can be found at the Project website.

The completed PhD thesis will make a valuable, stand-alone contribution to the analytic philosophy literature on social rights, duties, freedoms, and / or virtues. In writing the thesis, the student will deploy the methods typical of analytic philosophy including conceptual analysis, normative reasoning, thought experiments, arguments by analogy, and the use of counterexamples, among other things. The student will also be attentive to empirical findings on loneliness and social isolation in psychology and social neuroscience. Since the PhD studentship is based within the Department of Philosophy, the successful candidate will most likely have received their MA degree, if not their undergraduate degree, in Philosophy or a closely related field such as Political Theory or Jurisprudence.

Overview of the Studentship

The PhD studentship will include full time tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and an annual maintenance grant in line with RCUK guidelines (provisionally set at £14,800 in 2018-19) for three years. Additional benefits include additional training and support funding up to £700 per year, provision of a laptop, and access to the usual training and support opportunities available to PhD candidates in the Department of Philosophy.

The successful candidate will write their thesis under the supervision of Prof. Brownlee and undertake a philosophical exploration of issues related to social connection, loneliness, and wellbeing. She or he will also conduct a comprehensive literature review on philosophical debates related to sociability (such as communitarianism, integration, affiliation, relational autonomy, and flourishing), which will inform his/her doctoral thesis and support the project aims more broadly. The successful candidate will also review the psychological and neuroscientific literature on loneliness in collaboration with Prof. Brownlee and with guidance from the expert advisory panel.

Additionally, the successful candidate will be expected to co-author at least one article with Prof. Brownlee, jointly author an encyclopaedia entry on social rights, and contribute to organizing an international conference and journal special issue. She or he may also be offered the opportunity to undertake a modest amount of teaching for the Department consistent with preparation for an academic career.

The successful candidate will be selected according to academic merit, as well as how well their proposal sits within the Project aims and objectives. Applications are invited from any candidates who meet the normal application criteria for a PhD in Philosophy at Warwick, and whose research proposal meets the Project aims specified on the Philosophy website. We particularly welcome applications from female candidates and candidates from a minority ethnic background. Overseas fee-paying applicants will be considered, but please note that the studentship will only cover tuition fees up to the Home/EU rate.

The Sociability Project will run for three years and will be supported by an international interdisciplinary advisory panel. It will also be affiliated with the interdisciplinary Warwick Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs (CELPA).

How to apply

Applications will be welcomed from students who are: (i) currently in their first year of PhD study in Philosophy at Warwick; (ii) in receipt of an offer of a place on our programme; (iii) awaiting the result of their Philosophy PhD application; or (iv) at this stage yet to make an application for a place on our programme. All applicants, irrespective of their current status, must ensure the following are submitted no later than 19 January 2018.

  • A full PhD application, if you have not already done so. This should be completed in compliance with the advice detailed on the Philosophy website and submitted online.
  • A scholarship application form. This must be submitted by email to Melissa Venables at It includes a case for support of no more than 1000 words, covering the following points:
    • An outline of your research project and its theoretical background
    • How your project relates to previous and current research in the subject
    • The significance of your project (intellectual, practical, etc)
    • The proposed methodology and why it is a good fit for your project
    • How your project relates to your previous research and experience
    • How your project fits into the aims and objectives of the Investigating the Ethics and Politics of Sociability project
  • Two references. These references should comment specifically on a) your research potential, b) the strength of the research proposal and project, and c) the potential contribution of the proposed research project to the literature and debate in the area chosen. You are encouraged to use the same referees as for your Warwick application.*
  • Your undergraduate and postgraduate transcripts. If you have not yet completed your Masters, an interim transcript showing your marks to date will suffice. These should be uploaded to your PhD application using the link supplied by Admissions.
  • Your current academic CV. This should also be uploaded to your main application or supplied by email.

All of the above documents, including the main PhD application, must be submitted by 19 January 2018. This includes references.

*If you use the same referees as on your main PhD application, then they must submit your references using the online system no later than the prescribed deadline. If they encounter difficulty with the system, or if you choose to use different referees for your scholarship application, they may submit your references directly to Melissa Venables at from their university email accounts. Please note that we cannot accept references supplied through personal email (eg, gmail) or soft copies forwarded by applicants.

Queries about the project and expressions of interest should be sent directly to Prof. Brownlee at Queries about the application process should be sent to Melissa Venables at