Funded PhD Opportunity The role of funding agencies in peace processes

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Social Work and Social Policy


The International Fund for Ireland Research Studentship will be awarded to an outstanding PhD student addressing the topic of the impact of funding agencies in societies emerging from conflict.

The 1998 Belfast or Good Friday Agreement is viewed globally as a positive model for making peace, particularly in the way it guarantees nationality and identities, regardless of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has also demonstrated that it is possible to pursue divergent political goals in a peaceful way. At the same time, it would be difficult to argue that peace has been consolidated or is guaranteed going forward. The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended for nearly two years.  The ugly truth of “Peace Walls” and some murals with their violent imagery still mark certain communities. Only 7% of children attend integrated schools twenty years on from the Agreement. Despite some improvements in residential mixing, most people reside in largely single-identity communities. Brexit has also created new challenges with growing tensions about the nature of the border.

In short, many aspects of the Northern Ireland process represent a negative peace, where political violence has decreased but the underlying issues that fuel conflict have not been addressed. At the same time, the Northern Ireland peace process has had a dramatic investment in community peace and development work.   It is estimated that €1.5 billion has been invested by the EU into community peace work. The International Fund for Ireland (IFI) has committed to date £728m / €914m, supporting over 6,000 projects across the island of Ireland.  Financial contributions have come from the US, the EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The IFI aims to promote economic and social advancement, as well as encourage contact and dialogue. From 1991-2014, the Atlantic Philanthropies invested nearly $570m in Northern Ireland, primarily for the peace process and programs to improve people's lives.

All these programmes, and others, have developed a skilled community sector who can share lessons on a range of peacebuilding methods as diverse as using art, sport, dialogue, and development. In the context of the collapsed Assembly, one argument is that the significant investment in peace work has created the conditions to maintain peace at a community level despite the political collapse. Others argue the gap between the political process and the community process means the investments made at a community level have never reached their full potential. Many unanswered questions remain about the impact of funding agencies on the Northern Ireland peace process.

The area is ripe for new and innovative research on the role of funders in peace processes, and proposals are sought in this area, including comparative projects between Northern Ireland and elsewhere. A focus on new challenges such as Brexit are also welcome.

It is anticipated that the proposal will be in the area of social and policy sciences (e.g. political sciences, psychology, anthropology, policy studies, etc.) using qualitative methods, but mixed methods approaches are also suitable depending on the proposal.

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)
  • 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.

  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    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 4 March 2019
Interview Date
25 to 27 March 2019


Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses

Contact Supervisor

Professor Brandon Hamber

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #346708 when applying for this PhD opportunity