PhD Studentships: Interrogating Visions of a Post-Western World: Interdisciplinary and Interregional Perspectives on the Future in a Changing International Order

King's College London

To Start: September 2018


Following an award from the Leverhulme Trust, a major new Doctoral Programme will bring 15 new Doctoral Scholars to the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy (SSPP) at King’s College London under the research title: ‘Interrogating Visions of a Post-Western World: Interdisciplinary and Interregional Perspectives’. PhD scholars will be recruited over three years, with the first five beginning in September 2018. The next five will be begin their studies in September 2019 and the final five in September 2020. A limited amount of 6-month postdoctoral fellowships will be available to a select portion of those finishing their PhDs and it is hoped that the best PhDs will be published as monographs in a special series.


The declining influence of ‘the West’ in comparison to the rising power of Asia is expected to have a profound impact on almost every aspect of global politics in the twenty-first century. Yet existing attempts to understand the likely consequences of this epochal shift have suffered from politicisation, parochialism, societal angst and simplistic dichotomies about the differences between East and West. The Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy (SSPP) at King’s College London will create the first ever interdisciplinary and interregional doctoral programme to interrogate contending visions of a ‘post-Western world’ in the past, present and future. Students will be encouraged to combine historical perspectives with strategic foresight, utilise methods from the political and social sciences, security studies, international political economy and international relations theory, and pursue area-studies expertise while retaining a global perspective. Applications are encouraged from any of these disciplines.

This project consists of three themes and prospective candidates are expected to frame a project proposal under one of these:

1. Between utopianism and declinism: Western visions of international order, 1918-2018

Five PhD scholarships on ‘Western visions of international order’ will examine the development of aspects of Western thinking about international order over the course of the last 100 years, through to the present day. A particular focus on ideas of ‘the future’ in Western international thought will be welcome.

2. The view from Asia: non-Western views of a changing international landscape

Five PhD scholarships will focus on non-Western, specifically Asian, views of international affairs and world order in the contemporary world. While analysis of foreign policy and diplomacy is understood to be an important part of this theme, candidates are also encouraged to develop innovative research projects that go beyond narrowly realist or great power-centric approaches to international relations. Applications from “area studies” specialists are particularly welcome.

3. Co-evolution or conflict? Changing relations between East and West in the twenty-first century

Five PhD scholarships will examine various dimensions of the relationship between East and West, and their likely trajectory in the twenty-first century. Students within this theme will be encouraged to think expansively in terms of the forces acting on East-West relations, taking into consideration systemic and transnational factors in the international order. There may also be opportunities to widen the geographical scope of potential studies by looking at regions, such as parts of Africa, which have become contested spaces between East and West.

Admission to the three themes will be staggered in the following way. The students will be based within the Centre for Grand Strategy ( in the Department of War Studies

( at King’s College London but will be supervised by a diverse range of faculty members across the School of Security Studies, the School of Global Affairs and the School of Politics and Economics. Although it is not essential, applicants may identify potential supervisors for their project from across any of these schools within SSPP. Following the receipt of applications, a shortlist of candidates will be chosen for interview. The shortlisting and interviewing of candidates, and the final allocation of supervisors, will be the responsibility of a programme steering committee, in keeping with existing diversity and inclusion policies at King’s College London. Due to the high number of applications expected, it will not be possible to offer unsuccessful applicants detailed feedback.

Entry Requirements

Applicants will be assessed on the basis of their academic record and research potential, the originality and strength of their specific proposal (max. 3000 words), the innovation of their proposed methodology, and the fit with the overall programme theme (broadly conceived). It is expected that the doctoral programme will be highly competitive and prospective candidates will have an excellent academic record at undergraduate level, plus a Master’s degree with Distinction (or equivalent).  If successful with your funding applications, you will have to apply directly to the relevant department within King’s College London for acceptance on the PhD programme. All offers are subject to passing the university’s admissions requirements.

Award types and eligibility

Five scholarships will be open to successful candidates commencing their studies in September 2018.  The scholarship will cover course fees (Home/EU rate), a tax-free stipend (approx. £16,553 p.a.) and a research allowance up to £1,200 p.a. Due to funding restrictions, this award is currently only open to UK/EU nationals. Those seeking to do part-time study are eligible.  

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit an application/proposal form to on 23 April 2018. The form can be downloaded here . Successful applicants will also need to formally apply to the relevant departmental PhD programme at King's College London in due course.

Deadline: 23 April 2018

Interviews: May 2018

Start of PhD:  22nd September 2018

Contact If you have any queries or require further information please email Jessica Carden (Administrative) at or Professor John Bew (Centre for Grand Strategy) at   

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