15 PLATO PhD Fellowships for Early Stage Researchers at 9 European Universities 2017

Publish Date: Jan 11, 2017

Deadline: Jan 31, 2017

Would you like to research a Ph.D. on the legitimacy of the European Union after the financial crisis? Would you like to start your career in a European training network of leading research universities and professionals from the policy advice, consulting, and civil society sectors?

PLATO is an EU-funded Ph.D. network coordinated by Prof. Christopher Lord at ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo. PLATO brings together nine university partners from across Europe to recruit a group of 15 of the best ‘early’ researchers to undertake a common multidisciplinary investigation into crisis and the legitimacy of the Union. The doctoral researchers will work together with senior researchers from across the network.

Each candidate will be employed at one of the nine universities and enrolled in a local Ph.D. program, while at the same time being part of an integrated research team and research project at the network level.

The starting date for all positions is between 1 September and 1 October 2017. The positions are full-time for 3 years.

What PLATO offers

PLATO’s Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will follow the same mandatory training programme. It provides a unique opportunity for internationally oriented, ambitious and team-minded early stage researchers to follow an intensive programme that pools resources from excellent European research institutions and leading scholars in the field.

The ESRs’ career perspectives and employability will also be expanded beyond academia. Each ESR will undertake one three-month stay at a partner institution and one four-week secondment to gain first-hand work experience from the policy advice, consulting and civil society sector. PLATO moreover provides a quality framework for supervision and individual career development plans offered by the global leader in the professional development of researchers, Vitae. 

A common research agenda

PLATO will be a fully integrated, thematic research school with its own research question. PLATO aims to go well beyond the state-of-the-art by building a theory of legitimacy crisis in the EU from a uniquely interdisciplinary understanding of how democracy, power, law, economies and societies all fit together with institutions within and beyond the state to affect the legitimacy of contemporary political order.

PLATO will create 15 individual PhD projects on specific topics as part of its study of the EU’s legitimacy challenges.

Each application should identify one of the topics, and submit a research proposal. The proposal should cover what is already in the project description. However, it should also go further. It should set out an original yet feasible way of researching the project you have selected. Candidates can submit up to three separate applications.


PLATO’s ambitious and demanding training programme will require highly motivated ESRs, who will be required to perform above the average PhD student. The 15 PhD researchers will work together as an integrated team within a carefully designed research programme aimed at jointly developing state-of-the-art theory and methods.

In assessing the candidates, particular emphasis will be placed on the originality and creativity of the proposal, academic qualifications, and the individual project’s fit within the overall research programme. Candidates must have excellent writing skills as well as English language skills. Teamwork will be given emphasis, as PLATO is looking for dynamic and enthusiastic candidates collaborating well with other members of a team.


If it is not evident from the application that the two criteria are met, please include an explanation as part of your application.

Two specific eligibility conditions apply to this funding scheme, the Innovative Training Networks (ITN) of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) in the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme:

  • Mobility rule: The recruited researchers cannot have resided in the country where she/he is recruited for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the date of recruitment and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in that country.
  • Career stage: The recruited researchers must at the date of recruitment be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of her/his research career and not have a doctoral degree. This four-year period is measured from the date of obtaining the degree, which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.

Further details can be found in the European Commission's Participant Portal, where a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are assembled. For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.


Make sure that the criteria specified in the individual calls are met. These may vary depending on local PhD programmes and admission procedures. 

Applications must be sent according to the procedures and requirements set out in the individual calls.

Some general requirements apply and the following documents must be submitted as part of each individual application. Please make sure that any particular local criteria is met for the individual positions, which may vary depending on local PhD programmes and admission procedures.

  • Letter of motivation
  • Project proposal 
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Copy of MA degree diploma(s) and academic transcripts
  • CV
  • Proof of English language proficiency, if applicable (see individual calls)

Please read the qualifications for the positions carefully. We will only consider those who meet the listed requirements.

  • Deadline for application for all positions: 31 January 2017
  • Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interviews in the period 6-17 March 2017
  • Job offers will be made to the selected candidates by the end of April 2017
  • The start date of all position will be 1 September – 1 October 2017, depending on local admission programs

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