Summary

Political transitions from conflict to peace tend to be seen through temporal and socio-political frames that are essentially linear and diachronic. In these understandings, ‘peace’ is treated as an end-state – one towards which a society or groups are progressing or regressing. This object can be endangered through exclusionary electoral or legislative practices or through the residual presence of spoiler groups or ideas. Alternatively, it can be encouraged through pluralization of the political sphere, acceptance and promotion of liberal democratic norms and the bestowing of recognition by the international community.

Specifically, the project asks how activists work to (re)produce Northern Ireland’s historical and traditional left-wing scepticism about ethno-nationalist norms and ideologies. This activism, which has arguably flourished in the past decade, includes trade unionism, grassroots pressure groups and outsider political parties and movements such as People Before Profit. As the history of the left and oppositional movements demonstrates, however, radical and transgressive ideas and groups often become subsumed within the predominant ethno-religious socio-political structures. Focusing, in the first instance, on how a politics of resistance is framed against such assimilation by the construction of alternative understandings of peace, democracy, participation and mobilization, this project seeks to shed new light on how the politics of peace remains a contested and contestable realm.

Rigour

The project is Northern Ireland-focussed but there is scope for comparative case study work. The project seeks to focus on leftist ideological affiliations given the rich history of leftist opposition to ethno-nationalist responses to issues of poverty, rights, exclusions and civic society political participation in the region (Doyle, MUP, 2009; Edwards MUP, 2011; Loughlin, Palgrave 2018). We, however, welcome proposals exploring contemporary aspects of left-wing resistance to assimilation within ethno-religious norms, and, conversely, how that resistance works to pluralize understandings of the peace process and democratization in Northern Ireland.

Originality

The terrain confronting this project is untraversed. Much work has been done on how transgressive groups and ideologies become assimilated within predominant framings of the Northern Irish peace or sit uneasily with the dominant ethno-nationalist paradigm. However, this is the first attempt to explore how leftist activism works to resist and subvert assimilation. In so doing, the project will shed new light on our understandings of the constructions of ‘peace’ and how those constructions work to suppress pluralist politics. For instance, recent problematizations of these constructions have given way to nuance and shade in terms of our conceptualization of ‘peace’. However, simply put: whereas these have tended to adjectivize the term (liberal peace, everyday peace), this project seeks to verbize the idea. It does so by exploring how social movement activists resist assimilation into the dominant normative framings of the Northern Irish peace process.


Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.


Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,840 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,840 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living


The Doctoral College at Ulster University