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PhD Studentship - Sense of Commitment

We are pleased to invite applications for a full-time PhD Studentship in philosophy and psychology to commence in October 2018. The studentship is part of the European Research Council-funded “Sense of Commitment” project led by Dr John Michael.

Project Details

The Sense of Commitment: An Integrative Framework for Modeling the Sense of Commitment project will develop a theoretical framework for research on the sense of commitment, and create a suite of experimental paradigms for testing predictions generated by the theoretical framework. Combining theoretical research conducted at the Department of Philosophy with carefully designed lab experiments carried out at Warwick's Department of Psychology and at the Department of Cognitive Science at the Central European University in Budapest, the project will illuminate how and when people are willing to make and honor commitments, and to rely on others’ commitments, and will also shed light on the emergence of a sense of commitment in young children. In collaboration with the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, the project will also lay the groundwork for autonomous robots that participate in commitments with humans (e.g. for senior citizens’ homes, factory work and rescue operations. By focusing on joint actions involving pairs of agents, it will illuminate the fundamental mechanisms underlying large-scale human social phenomena.

Overview of the Studentship

The studentship will include full time tuition fees at the Home/EU rate plus an annual maintenance grant in line with RCUK guidelines (provisionally set at £14,800 for 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 Dr John Michael. Applicants are invited to be creative in preparing their research proposal. The successful candidate will demonstrate how their proposed PhD thesis aligns with the broad objectives of the Sense of Commitment Project.

The successful candidate will conduct a comprehensive literature review of her or his chosen research topic, which will inform her or his doctoral thesis and support the project aims more broadly. The successful candidate will also design and implement experiments testing hypotheses generated by theoretical analysis, as well as collaborating with other members of the research team both in experimental and in theoretical work. For this reason, the candidate will not only have a strong theoretical grasp of commitment and related issues, but will either have or be willing to acquire programming skills, as well as a proficiency in statistics. The candidate will be expected to co-author 2-3 journal articles with Dr John Michael.

Applications are invited from any candidates with a background in philosophy, psychology or a related area, and whose research proposal meets the project aims specified on the 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.

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 27 April 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 Sense of Commitment 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 27 April 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 Dr John Michael at Queries about the application process should be sent to Melissa Venables at