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PhD positions in the field of Caspian Studies, University of Bremen, Germany


April 12, 2015

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Open to: UK Students, EU Students, International Students (with a regional focus on Central Asia and the South Caucasus)

£23,386 per annum (subject to exchange rates)

2 PhD positions are available at the Research Centre for East European Studies (Forschungsstelle Osteuropa) at the University of Bremen
Successful candidates will have to complete a PhD thesis related to one of the following two topics within the contract period of 3 years:
Bremen-PhD1: Authoritarian strategies to create stability and legitimacy. The role of state income from natural resources (with a regional focus on Central Asia and the South Caucasus)
The literature on the rentier state and the resource curse argues convincingly that state income from exports of natural resources can be used to strengthen authoritarian states by either buying loyalty or building up state capacities for the suppression of dissent. However, little is known about the conditions under which this authoritarian strengthening becomes feasible and the explaining factors for specific strategies of the authoritarian leaders. The Caspian states offer interesting case studies in this respect as they all share a common Soviet legacy. Comparing resource-rich and resource-poor countries offers a chance to identify the impact of resource rents and will also provide a better understanding of general authoritarian strategies to create stability and legitimacy.
Bremen-PhD2: The (limited) development of welfare and social policies in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus: causes and dynamics
The development of social welfare systems after the dissolution of the Soviet Union has been characterised by a twofold transformation: on a territorial level, the newly formed states of the post-Soviet region had to develop welfare institutions and policies independently for the first time. They were confronted with Soviet legacies in the form of existing institutions and popular expectations on the one hand and a global push for neo-liberal reforms, summarized at that time as Washington consensus, on the other hand. On a functional level, the new states, therefore, had to decide which policy fields should be covered by their welfare systems in which ways. This offers an ideal opportunity to identify debates, patterns and causes for specific welfare policy mixes.
Applicants are advised to check their eligibility under MSCA rules. Major criteria are:
  • Mobility clause: Candidates must not have been resident or carried out activities in Germany for more than 12 months in the past three years (up to April 2015).
  • Maximum seniority allowed: Candidates must have less than 4 years (full-time equivalent) of research experience after their Master's degree.
Applicants also need to meet the criteria for admission to doctoral studies at the University of Bremen, including a Master’s degree in a social science discipline.


During the four years, the graduate students will receive an employment contract. For the first year, the gross annual salary will be 18,546.56 EUR (depending on marital status, children, etc., this salary corresponds to a net income of approximately 1,240 EUR/month). The initial gross annual salary will be increased progressively to 19,303.56 EUR during the second annuity, to 22,666.16 EUR for the third and 22,558.67 during the fourth.
In addition to the salary, the students will receive a onetime annual allowance of 1,500 EUR for the first and second years and 1,700 EUR for the third and fourth years. That allowance covers miscellaneous expenses, such as university fees, expenses derived from international congress attendance and/or stays in international research centres.

The application package should include:

  • cover letter
  • short CV
  • draft of a research design for one of the above mentioned two PhD projects (max 3 pages)
  • name and contact details of three referees who can comment on the applicant's professional competences and/or academic capacity 
Please submit your complete application package by email as one pdf file. Applications received by 12 April 2015 will be given full consideration. The Research Centre for East European Studies (Forschungsstelle Osteuropa) at the University of Bremen is an equal opportunity employer. Women are particularly encouraged to apply. In case of equal personal aptitudes and qualification priority will be given to disabled persons. 
Informal enquiries should be directed to: Dr. Heiko Pleines, Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, Germany. Email: Telephone: 0049/(0)-421-218-69602

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