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ESRC AQM Studentship - Statistical Modelling of International Climate Treaty Data

University of Glasgow - School of Social & Political Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Glasgow
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: A stipend at the enhanced RCUK rate (2018-19 rate is £17,777)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 23rd July 2018
Closes: 26th August 2018

Funding amount: A stipend at the enhanced RCUK rate (2018-19 rate is £17,777 full-time / £10,666.20 part time); 100 % tuition fee waiver; access to Research Training Support Grant.


Climate change is one of the most pressing societal challenges. While many consider the Paris Agreement a success, President Trump’s 2017 announcement to withdraw the US from the agreement has raised concerns about whether other states will also backtrack. This puts a fundamental, counterfactual question in the spotlight: Would the same announcement by any other country have triggered similar worries?

This seemingly innocuous question highlights a major challenge for our understanding of international cooperation. When governments make decisions about whether to join a treaty, such as the Paris Agreement, they consider two things: First, they are forward-looking and try to assess how their own treaty participation affects the likelihood of others to join the agreement. Second, governments look backwards to see which countries have already ratified a treaty before deciding on their own action.

Existing statistical modelling approaches ignore these strategic and relational contexts in which specific agreements are made; they only consider a government’s current choice, independent of how their own choice affects future behaviour by others (strategic context) and what to learn from historic ratifications (relational context). This PhD project hence proposes to assess, both substantively and statistically, the relative merits of two advanced quantitative methods: Strategic Estimation and the Relational Event Model (REM) to investigate international agreement-making to better understand the nature of government choice over time.

Both methods are new to the study of international agreement-making, so applicants would not be expected to already be familiar with these techniques at the beginning of the PhD; extensive training opportunities will be put in place to help the student acquire the necessary skills. An ideal candidate should have a background in political science, international relations, or a related social science with a strong quantitative focus or from (applied) statistics with a strong interest in international relations and climate agreement-making. Any of the following would be an advantage: familiarity with random utility models and/or strategic estimation; familiarity with relational event modelling and/or analysis of dynamic network data; the use of statistical packages, such as R; strong interest in climate change research and international treaty-making.


The PhD project will be Lead-supervised by Dr Patrick Bayer and co-supervised by Professor Mark Tranmer. Both are based in the School of Social and Political Sciences.

The full award is only open to UK and certain EU applicants, due to funder residency requirements.  Please check your suitability on the ESRC Eligibility Checker website by following the ‘How to apply’ link provided below.

Contact for further information:

For further information contact Dr Patrick Bayer or Professor Mark Tranmer

How to apply:

Interested applicants find information on how to apply on the following University of Glasgow website:

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