PhD Studentship: Intoxication And Addiction In Moral And Legal Decision Making

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD studentship available for September 2018

Project title: Intoxication And Addiction In Moral And Legal Decision Making

Supervisors:  Dr Hans S. Crombag (School of Psychology, University of Sussex) and Dr. John J. Child (School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex)

For decades there has been a highly visible debate among philosophers, law scholars, and scientists (as well as the general public) about the moral nature of addiction. For some, modern neuroscientific understanding tells us that addiction is a disease, and that addicts lack the necessary volitional or mental capacity to be held responsible for their drug use or actions committed in order to secure drugs. For others, addiction is a matter of personal responsibility in having chosen to take drugs in the first place, and/or having lacked the moral fortitude to quit. This debate has been mostly theoretical, often legalistic, but lacks thorough empirical insights into the reasoning behind moral and legal decision making in the context of drugs and addiction.

This co-supervised PhD studentship builds on our earlier work at the interface of criminal law and psychology/neuroscience to examine how criminal sentencers and/or the general public make moral (blame) and legal (punishment) decisions in cases involving drug-intoxicated and/or addicted offenders. Variables explored include the history and etiology of addictions, the nature of the criminal/immoral act (e.g. harm caused, level of intent), role of intoxication, effects of neuroscientific information. 

Applications should be made by Sunday 21st January 2018

  • Studentship awards will be based on a competitive process, including interview. There are two types of awards available: +3 studentships, which fund a three-year full-time PhD, and 1+3 studentships, which fund a one-year Master’s degree followed by a three-year full-time PhD. Full-time studentship covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance (currently £14,553 per annum).
  • The competitive awards are funded by the School of Psychology (+3, eligibility: Home or EU residency); the ESRC (1+3 or +3, eligibility at South-East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS); or the Chancellor’s International Research Scholarship (+3, eligibility at Chancellor's International Research Scholarship (2018).
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master's degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:

  • Application procedures can be found here.
  • Please submit your application online for the ‘PhD in Psychology’ programme for September 2018 through this link
  • In the ‘Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section of your application form, please put name of supervisor
  • In the ‘Proposed source of funding’ as School of Psychology and/or SeNSS, or CIRS).

Candidates should provide:

  • A research proposal that outlines your knowledge of the research area, hypotheses that could be addressed in your PhD, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10-font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • Current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses.
  • Two academic references.

For queries with respect to the application process please send an email for the attention of 'Postgraduate Coordinator' to:

To discuss the details of this PhD project further, please contact Dr Hans Crombag via email:

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South East England