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The Science of Politics: An Ethnographic Study of Extinction Rebellion


Research Field
Social sciences



The Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD: supported by the School of Social Sciences, invites applications for PhD study. This Large Centre Associated Studentship is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and is available on a full-time or part-time basis. Commencing in October 2020, it is available in the area of Sociology.

This studentship offers the opportunity of extended, ethnographic fieldwork with Extinction Rebellion. The focus of the research will be the interplay between knowledge from the natural and social sciences and political activism. Extinction Rebellion is unusual in the role and status it gives to the science of climate change in its recruitment strategy and policy advocacy. Its core argument – namely that the world is facing a climate emergency - is communicated via an evidence-based recruitment talk entitled ‘Heading for Extinction and What to Do About It’. Many new members are recruited through the talk, which draws upon scientific evidence relating to effects of global heating. It also presents sociological research on social movements, arguing that this offers solutions which will enable XR to influence and change government climate policy. The studentship research will focus on this talk, which is delivered by trained volunteers, many of whom are not scientists. The study will explore how knowledge from natural and social sciences is translated, made accessible to, and used to mobilise lay citizens. There is scope to tailor the project to the successful applicant’s expertise and interests, but we anticipate the research will contribute to one or more of the following areas: science communication, science and technology studies, social movement studies. The successful student will also be a member of WISERD and will take part in related away days, conferences, capacity building, and other events.


Professor Robert Evans -

Dr Jamie Lewis -

Dr Rhian Barrance -

What is funded

Studentship Awards commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,009 p.a. for 2019/20 for full-time students, updated each year); and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), though an element of this latter fund may be ‘pooled’ and require separate applications from 2020 onwards. There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.


Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first class or strong upper second class honours degree, or appropriate Master’s degree. Applications welcomed for both full and part-time study. Studentships are available as either ’1+3’ (i.e. one full year’s Master’s research training followed by three years’ full-time Doctoral study, or part-time equivalent), or ’+3’ (i.e. three years’ full-time doctoral study or part-time equivalent), depending on applicant needs.

For this Research Centre Associated studentship award, applicants should carefully consider the project’s working title and description and can contact the supervisors to discuss prior to applying.



Applications deadline is 12.00 noon on Monday 2 March 2020. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview, between Monday 30 March and Friday 10 April 2020. Post-interview outcome will be forwarded to ESRC Wales DTP Management Group for final award decision. Successful applicants can expect to hear by early June 2020.

How to Apply

Applicants should apply via the University’s website to the ’Doctor of Philosophy in Social Sciences’ with a ’October 2020’ start date.

In research proposal section of application, please specify project title and supervisors of this project and copy project description in the text box provided. In funding section, select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify you are applying for advertised funding from ’WISERD LARGE CENTRE ASSOCIATED STUDENTSHIP - School of Social Sciences: The Science of Politics: An Ethnographic Study of Extinction Rebellion’.


1. Covering letter: Set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University and Sociology pathway; your understanding and expectations of doctoral study; your academic interests generally, and particularly those relating to your proposed research. Letter should be maximum two pages.

2. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, should include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).

3. Two Academic References: Candidates must approach referees themselves and include these with application.

4. Curriculum Vitae: Maximum two pages.

5. Research Proposal: This should be maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. Please use following headings in your proposal:

• Title, aims and purpose of the research;

• Brief overview of academic literature relevant to your field;

• Proposed design/methods;

• Academic contributions of your research;

• Indicative bibliographic references.

Mae’r rhaglen hon ar gael drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg yn unig. I wneud cais am wybodaeth yn Gymraeg, cysylltwch â’r Tîm Recriwtio Ôl-raddedigion (

This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team (



The responsibility for the funding offers published on this website, including the funding description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.