Navigating the post-Brexit public sphere: Communication, inclusion and trust in Northern Ireland

Navigating the post-Brexit public sphere: Communication, inclusion and trust in Northern Ireland

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 14th February 2020

Interview dates:Week commencing 9th March 2020

Start date: September 2020

For queries contact: Dr Charis Rice


The Brexit referendum pushed debates about political communication, populist discourses, and notions of trust and inclusion centre stage in British politics. For stakeholders of Northern Ireland, a post-conflict but deeply divided society that voted to ‘remain’, the nature of the post-Brexit public sphere should be of central concern. Brexit brings longstanding issues of ethno-national tensions, borders and division back into sharp relief, with all of the accompanying issues of cross-community distrust, fears of exclusion and feelings of vulnerability.

This project is interested in the, as yet, relatively unexplored role of communication in such issues in Northern Ireland. It will investigate how a range of social and political actors use information from various sources to envisage the post-Brexit public sphere in relation to perceptions of trust and inclusion. It will consider how communication shapes the opportunity structures and behaviour of social and political actors as they navigate Brexit uncertainty. The project will utilise appropriate methods and conceptual frameworks to gather empirical data and address these issues of current academic, social and political importance. It will provide new academic knowledge on how Brexit is understood, imagined and enacted by different individuals and stakeholder groups. Through this, it will generate recommendations for relevant policymakers and practitioners at a time of profound change.


Full studentship which includes tuition fees and living expenses for a doctoral candidate over 3.5 years.

Stipend rates set by UKRI with an annual projected average increase of 1.25% per year.

CTPSR Research development allowance of £1,000 per annum.


Training and development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

The successful candidate will also benefit from participation in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations’ Doctoral Training Course, involvement in the Centre’s Communities, Identities and Politics research group and involvement in Centre research seminars. The successful candidate will benefit from mentoring by and collaboration from experienced researchers in the fields of communication, trust, social movements and identity, including Dr Charis Rice, Prof Ann-Marie Nienaber and Dr Joel Busher.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average
  • A Masters’ degree in a relevant subject, or equivalent professional experience is desirable
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • Some knowledge and/or research experience within the field of communication studies (e.g. political/government communication; public communication; strategic communication/public relations; dialogue or discourse study)
  • Familiarity with the Northern Ireland societal and political context
  • An interest in the use of qualitative social research methods
  • A commitment to collaborative study

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Charis Rice.

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Apply to Coventry University