New funded PhD position: Expertise and the Future of Global Biochemical Weapon Control

Expertise and the Future of Global Biochemical Weapon Control

Applications are invited for a full-time University studentship (full funding for UK and EU students) to support and work in the Department of Politics, Languages and International Relations at the University of Bath.


The recent use of chemical weapons in the Middle-East and the re-emergence of western concerns about chemical and biological terrorism have reaffirmed the importance of global Chemical and Biological Weapon (CBW) control. CBW are prohibited through a complex international regime. However, advances in science and technology, changes in the international security environment and transformations in global governance raise fundamental challenges. Responding to these challenges is associated with an increasingly broad and complex set of expertise needs. How for example, do we ensure that advances in science in technology, or changing public values do not undermine the prohibition of such weapons?

The key sub-questions to be addressed within the project include:

  • How is policymaking expertise currently conceptualised within the field of international relations?
  • What is the existing expertise landscape in the CBW control issue area?
  • What are the primary means though which epistemic communities impact upon policymaking in this area?
  • To what extent do existing expertise capacities meet existing and future institutional needs in this area?

The student will position themselves between policy practitioners and relevant academic literatures in order to analyse contemporary and future expertise needs in this policy area; in particular in relation to security concerns about cutting-edge civilian science and technology. The student will rely on a range of qualitative data collection and analysis techniques. This will include carrying our elite interviews and the analysis of technical documents.

The Project

This project will build upon recent work of Dr Edwards and Professor David Galbreath as part of the Biochemical Security 2030 Project. As part of this project there is an opportunity for a suitable student to undertake a paid internship at a specialist Non-Governmental Organisation (VERTIC). The placement will help the student refine the proposal based on academic interests as well as policy needs. The student will also build links to help with conducting research and communicating project findings to relevant practitioners.

This project is embedded in the new Centre for Technology and War and the candidate will work alongside a range of other scholars with interests in governance, conflict and security within the department.

The Successful Candidate should:

1. Fulfil the entrance requirements for a Department for Politics, Languages and International Studies MPhil/PhD
2. Have at least a strong understanding of international security and international organization
3. Have training in relevant social science research methods

The Award

The successful candidate will be supported for three 3 years, and will include a stipend, Home/EU tuition fees and an annual Training Support Grant. Terms and conditions and details of other Awards can be found on the Graduate School website.

How to Apply

Applicants should apply online to study for a full time MPhil/PhD in Politics. It is important to quote the project title (see above) on your application.
Please note that the application form will refer to a formal proposal. As this studentship is to work on a specific project, there is no need to write this formal proposal in this case.
The application will also ask you to complete a funding request form available here which you must complete. Use this outline  your experiences and reasons for applying for this studentship. (maximum 500 words).

Application closing date o4 February 2016, 12:00 (noon) GMT

Informal Enquiries Should be addressed to Dr. Brett Edwards (