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University of Kent Law School PhD Research Studentship in UK 2024

This studentship is offered by Kent Law School in association with the UKRI-funded Future Leaders Fellowship project led by Dr Connal Parsley, “The Future of Good Decisions: an Evolutionary Approach to Human-AI Government Administrative Decision-Making”. The project will take a new approach to the challenge that algorithmic decision-making presents to the principles of the rule of law. It will ask how emerging techno-social systems can support a new vision of participatory deliberative governance, to supplement that of liberal legal thought. How can our ideas of ‘good decisions’ evolve, via new administrative practices and evaluative concepts, for an age where humans and AI increasingly ‘co-decide’? Some further information about the ‘Future of Good Decisions’ project is available here.

Funded by the University of Kent’s Graduate and Researcher College, we are welcoming applications from prospective doctoral students interested in exploring the intersection of new information technologies, designed legal decision systems, and changing approaches to norms, values, decision quality or evaluation.

· The studentship will be supervised by Dr Connal Parsley (lead supervisor), with an additional supervisor or supervisors as appropriate to the successful candidate’s project

· This studentship will be based at Kent Law School (KLS)

· The studentship will commence in September 2024, 3 years full-time or 5 years part-time

Research at KLS

Kent Law School (KLS) is one of the UK’s leading law schools. It was the 2nd ranked UK Law School in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), with a scholarly environment judged as supporting world-leading research. Law at Kent is ranked 15th out of 101 in The Guardian University Guide 2022, 16th in The Times Good University Guide 2022, and 45th in the THE World University Rankings by Subject 2021. Our work draws upon doctrinal and interdisciplinary methodologies, diverse critical, contextual and socio-legal approaches, and a range of theoretical perspectives from the humanities and social sciences in order to contribute to a broad range of legal sub-disciplines.

The recipient of this KLS studentship will not be required to teach. However, as part of our commitment to support the next generation of legal academics, all doctoral students have the opportunity to undertake paid teaching on an undergraduate law module, at the direction of the Head of School.

About University Of Kent

Kent is a leading academic institution: 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality in the Research Excellence Framework.

University Of Kent

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University of Kent Law School PhD Research Studentship

Application Deadline31 Mar 2024
Country to studyUnited Kingdom
School to studyUniversity of Kent
Course to studyView courses
SponsorUniversity Of Kent
GenderMen and Women

Aim and Benefits of University of Kent Law School PhD Research Studentship

The studentship will cover tuition fees at the standard postgraduate Home rate (£4,712 for 2023/24) plus an annual maintenance stipend of £18,622 per annum (increasing annually in line with the UKRI rate).

University of Kent Law School PhD Research Studentship Courses

Requirements for University of Kent Law School PhD Research Studentship Qualification

  • Hold, or be expected to hold a Bachelor's degree (1 or 2.1), or Master's degree (merit or distinction).
  • Have applied for a full-time or part-time PhD research degree at the University of Kent for the following academic year 2024/25.
  • Demonstrate that they have made a contribution to the wider University community, for example, through Students' Union activities - societies, sports, volunteering - or acting as a student representative on University committees.
  • Have excellent written and oral communication skills and be able to: 
    • Explain their research clearly and without jargon to non-experts.
    • Convey their passion for their research to a wider audience.
    • Convince the panel of their research's wider value.
  • Provide a CV.
  • Provide a supporting statement of no more than two A4 pages. Any statement exceeding this limit will not be accepted.
  • Provide an academic reference in support of the project; this will be requested if you are successful through the first round of shortlisting.
  • Act as 'ambassadors' for both the University and their subjects.
  • Be available for a video interview in April 2024.

Undergraduates applying to study at any of the University of Kent campuses (Brussels, Canterbury, Medway, Paris) are eligible to apply.

Scholarship proposal

Project proposals are welcome from students with a clear methodological approach, for instance, qualitative mixed-methods research (including critical textual methods), ethnography (participant observation), and/or participatory or creative methods, including in any of the following general areas (but not limited to them):

· ‘Design’ and participatory processes as novel priorities in digitalising democracies

· The legal theory of norms and values as ‘affordances’ of technology and designed systems

· Identifying new norms and value priorities in the context of emerging legal technologies and ‘technosocial ecologies’

· Critical analysis of existing design and regulatory mechanisms like ‘Human in the Loop’

· Critical analysis of the pressure that new technologies place on existing value goals and/or underlying conceptions of decisions and decision-making

· Media-jurisprudential histories of administrative decision-making, the foundations of the administrative state, or concepts central to the rule of law and ‘good decisions’ (e.g. deliberation, transparency, fairness, rationality)

· Leading approaches to decision system evaluation or other centrally important aspects of AI system design, and their potential application in the context of administrative decisions

· Prefigurative methods and ‘modelling’ as sources of normative value and good decision design (the Future of Good Decisions project uses creative prefigurative methods as a central part of its methodology, and there will be opportunities to participate in and study these methods)

We encourage potential applicants to arrange an informal 15-minute conversation about your research proposal, prior to submitting an application, with Dr Connal Parsley: [email protected]

Application Deadline

March 31, 2024

How to Apply

Interested and qualified? Go to University Of Kent on to apply

Submit an online application for admission to the Law PhD degree by 31st March 2024, 23:59 GMT.

As part of the application, you must submit a clear and succinct research proposal (usually around 2000-2500 words) and a personal statement explaining the reasons you wish to undertake the research degree (the ‘Reasons for Study’). Please indicate in your application that you are interested in applying for the ‘Studentship in Legal Design, New Technology and Human Values’ and add Dr Connal Parsley as the main supervisor.

Many unsuccessful PhD studentship applicants submit research proposals that are insufficiently clear, comprehensive or precise, and do not adequately delimit the research they want to undertake. All applicants are strongly advised to discuss their intended project with lead supervisor, Dr Connal Parsley ([email protected]), and to consider the Kent Law School Informal Guide to Putting Together a Research Proposal.

Apply online to the Law PhD degree.

Please direct questions about the online application process to [email protected]

For more details visit: University of Kent website.

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