Funded PhD Opportunity Ill-disciplinary Studies in Everyday Life

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management


Everyday life throws up problems that require concepts and methods that borrow from, and cut across, different disciplines. Whether we refer to this as inter-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, or as is increasingly fashionable, anti-disciplinary research, the research problem is the same: the problem is the things thrown up at us in an experience of the quotidian and how we respond to them. Given that there still very much exists a rigid, even defensive, Balkanization of knowledge in the contemporary academy and in public culture more broadly, and given that the disciplinary boundaries of knowledge are still very carefully policed in this context, a key difficulty remains with any research that aims and claims to move between and across disciplines with any degree of novelty.

The difficulty is fundamentally anthropological, by which we mean a question of how we can even begin to understand a gesture to otherness as anything other than as otherness ‘for us’. Put simply, researchers feel most comfortable gesturing toward others with whom they share strong family resemblances. This is why so much of what passes for exotic disciplinary promiscuity is actually often not much more than the narcissism of minor familial differences. Put all to simply, perhaps, but much of what we refer to as inter/multi/trans/anti-disciplinary work tends, in the end, to be reductively cross-disciplinary in that it interpretively over-codes the other discipline(s) from its own initially assumed privileged position.

What we mean by 'ill-disciplinary studies in everyday life' is precisely a challenge to the Balkanization of knowledge and a resistance to viewing particular everyday problems from within the confines of a particular disciplinary perspective. So, we are interested in PhD project proposals which aim to address everyday problems in a way that actively disrespects the certitude and comfort of inherited disciplinary norms. Without being necessarily prescriptive, such projects could address issues such as: climate change, wealth, poverty and inequality, the digital or computational transformation of space and place, the triumph of emotion in political discourse, the emergence of forms of algorithmic governance and law-making, the harvesting of ‘big data’ to inform social policy, the bio-cultural politics of mental health.

We are particularly interested in projects that cut across Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines (broadly construed), as-well as connecting with those relevant others outside the academy such as artists, creatives, policy/political professionals, social activists, NGOs, interest groups, decision makers, key influencers. We are also very keen to encourage speculative PhD projects that risk engaging other disciplines outside Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines such as computing and engineering, the physical sciences and life and health sciences to negotiate everyday problems from within a novel ill-disciplined perspective.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 70%


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 18 February 2019
Interview Date
5 March 2019

Contact Supervisor

Dr Robert Porter

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #345116 when applying for this PhD opportunity