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PhD Studentship Fake News, Culture and Heuristics

Bournemouth University - Faculty of Science and Technology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bournemouth
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,000 maintenance grant per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 23rd August 2019
Closes: 31st October 2019

Lead Supervisor name: Dr John McAlaney on

Misinformation in the form of fake news has become a characteristic of the 21st century, driven by technologies such as social media platforms that enable information to spread quickly and to be targeted at individual beliefs, biases and emotions.

One factor that may be of importance is culture. Cultures vary on several dimensions, including individualism vs collectivism, power distance (between those at the top of the social hierarchy and those at the bottom), masculinity vs femininity and uncertainty avoidance. It is reasonable to expect that different types of fake news would spread more easily in different cultures.

Another possibly relevant factor is decision making heuristics. These refer to quick decisions that we make based on limited information. There are several different heuristics that have been identified, such as for example the secrecy heuristic, which results in us assuming information presented as being leaked or confidential in some way is more likely to be genuine. It is an under-researched area, but it is possible there is a relationship between culture and heuristics.

This proposed PhD will make an important and novel contribution to what is an increasingly important social issue. The limited academic research that has been conducted to date on this topic has focussed on the how and what of the spread of fake news – the proposed PhD will make a fundamental contribution by addressing the why.

What does the funded studentship include?

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £15,000 per annum (unless otherwise specified), to cover their living expenses and have their fees waived for 36 months. In addition, research costs, including field work and conference attendance, will be met. 

Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified.

Eligibility criteria 

Candidates for funded PhD studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years.

Studentship candidates must demonstrate outstanding academic potential with a 1st class honours degree and/or a Master’s degree with distinction. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6 in each component) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language. 

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful and timely completion.

Closing Date: The first call for applications will close on 31 October 2019.

For further information on how to apply click the ‘Apply’ button below or email

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