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The role of universities in creating a democratic Europe

Eligibility: UK and international applicants with required entry requirements, holding the nationality of one of the Council of Europe member countries (https://www.coe.int/en/web/about-us/our-member-states)

Funding details: Tuition fees, bursary and additional allowances.

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

Application deadline: 21 April 2023

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

For further details contact: Dr Que Anh Dang (queanh.dang@coventry.ac.uk) at Coventry and Professor Sue Wright (suwr@edu.au.dk) at Aarhus University 

For Practical details about the Cotutelle Programme please read the Coventry-Aarhus Handbook


Coventry University (CU), Aarhus University (AU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) invite applications from suitably qualified British and international candidates for a fully funded cotutelle PhD studentship which will start in September 2023.

The successful candidate will enrol at the Centre for Global Learning (GLEA), Coventry University as their home institution. They will undertake the cotutelle doctoral research programme under the supervision of academic experts from Coventry and Aarhus universities and policy expert(s) from the Council of Europe. The cotutelle will include spending a minimum of one year at the Centre for Higher Education Futures (CHEF), Aarhus University in Denmark, and up to 6 months to conduct fieldwork with an expert advisor at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

The cotutelle programme offers doctoral researchers the opportunity to advance their skills and expertise in the higher education field and achieve a dual award from Coventry and Aarhus, whilst developing their intercultural and international skills, and creating international networks and collaborations.

Project details

Higher education plays a crucial role in developing a democratic culture that upholds fundamental values, such as academic freedom, institutional autonomy and the participation of students and staff in higher education governance. Democratic culture is understood as the set of attitudes and behaviours that enable institutions, laws, and elections to be democratic in practice. Developing and maintaining this culture of democracy is a European understanding at the heart of the Council of Europe’s Education programme. Indeed, signing the European Cultural Convention of 1954, whose purpose is to strengthen, deepen and further develop cooperation in education and culture between its signatories, is a condition for acceding to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). These fundamental values have long been taken for granted but recently they returned to the European ministerial higher education agenda because they are under greater threat than at any time since the launch of the Bologna Process.

The Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organisation of 46 members, has established a strong role in higher education policy, including on the fundamental values and the democratic mission of higher education. The PhD project includes a secondment to the Council of Europe to review its work on higher education over the last 20 years.  The project will explore the role of universities in creating a democratic Europe and the role of the Council of Europe in (re)conceptualising the EHEA fundamental academic values.  Drawing, for example, on the concept of ‘Normative Power’ developed by Manners (2002, 2006, 2013), the project will also examine whether and how the Council of Europe exercises the normative power to turn its ideas into norms in Europe.

Further details about GLEA and CHEF: 




Tuition fees, bursary and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills at the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development and the Centre for Global Learning at Coventry University. At Aarhus University, they will be able to take courses at the Graduate School, Faculty of Arts, and participate in the research activities of the Centre for Higher Education Futures.

The candidate will receive excellent peer support from current doctoral and postdoctoral researchers throughout the programme.

On completion the candidate will receive two recognised PhD qualifications, one from each university.

Candidate specification

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

For further details please visit:  https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-opportunities/research-students/making-an-application/research-entry-criteria/

Additional requirements
  • A master’s degree with duration of 2 years or 120 ECTS, the mark for the master’s dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 60%.

How to apply

All applications require a research proposal of max. 12,000 characters including spaces, tables, diagrams, footnotes and illustrations (approx. 5 A4 pages of 2,400 characters each, excluding references) setting out the issue for study, how the study draws on existing knowledge, and proposed research methods for generating new knowledge. Please consult Coventry University’s Research Proposal Guidelines  and AU Faculty of Arts’ PhD Project Description Guidelines.

Other supporting documents include a CV, two reference letters and a covering letter of approx. 600 words showing how the applicant’s experience, skills and interests are relevant to the project.

Informal enquiries are essential before application, please contact Dr Que Anh Dang (queanh.dang@coventry.ac.uk) and Professor Sue Wright (suwr@edu.au.dk) at Aarhus University to discuss this opportunity.

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