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PhD Opportunities

Explaining Atheism: The Causal Origins of Individual and Societal Non-belief (Quantitative Studentship)

School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics | PHD
Funding
Funded
Reference Number
HAPP-2022-1006
Application Deadline
13 May 2022
Start Date
1 October 2022

Overview

Atheism, agnosticism, and other forms of non-belief in God or gods are widespread and growing, raising public debates about the personal and social impacts of non-belief and how to include such perspectives in legal frameworks, education, and public policy (Zuckerman 2007; Lee 2015; Smith & Cragun 2019). Further, the growth of non-belief, as well as its uneven distribution around the world, raises questions for the scientific study of religion and culture. If beliefs in God or gods are largely the products of evolved human psychology (Boyer 2001, Barret 2004), then how are we to explain the growth and distribution of atheism, agnosticism, and other forms of religious non-belief (Lee and Bullivant 2010; Lanman 2012a; Mercier, Kramer, and Shariff 2018)? What are the main causes of atheism? With generous funding from the John Templeton Foundation, in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast, Brunel University, University of Kent, St Mary’s University Twickenham, Coventry University, and University of Notre Dame Australia, the new Explaining Atheism research programme is the first major research initiative of its kind to examine the causes of atheism across disciplines and across cultures. The programme has several components. Firstly, it involves grant competitions, to generate and fund research from across the human sciences, investigating the causes of atheism across demographic groups, cultural settings, and historical periods. Secondly, its core interdisciplinary research team will work across these areas to build a more integrated understanding of the causal origins of individual and societal non-belief through a central research project called Explaining Atheism: Across Disciplines, Across Cultures. Finally, the programme includes public engagement activities that aim to develop knowledge exchange between academic researchers in this field and wider publics. Together, these strategies aim to produce the most systematic scientific account of the causal origins of atheism, agnosticism, and other forms of non-belief to date. In collaboration with the Explaining Atheism programme, Queen’s University Belfast is providing two fully funded studentships to support doctoral research that will contribute to the programme’s broad goals and participate in our core research projects.

Studentship 1: Quantitative
The recipient of the Quantitative studentship will work with the core team on the central cross-cultural survey project (Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, UK, USA) examining the causes of atheism and be invited to pursue additional research that reflects their own personal interest in the causes of atheism. The programme is a broad and ambitious one, and projects might focus on any region(s) of world, social grouping(s) or ways people become atheists. Additional project ideas may utilize anthropological, sociological, or psychological methods, but are expected to be empirical with a predominantly quantitative focus.

The appointed researcher will work with a supervisory team led by Dr Jonathan Lanman (Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queens University Belfast) and supported by Dr Aiyana Willard (Psychology, Brunel University London), and will be an active member of the Explaining Atheism programme team.

Applications for this studentship are welcome from anyone with a strong academic track record in a relevant discipline (e.g. sociology, anthropology, psychology) who is able to demonstrate a strong interest in the programme theme as well as the range of skills necessary for this kind of collaborative project. A demonstrated knowledge of statistical analysis is required, and some experience with the statistical software R is preferred.

HOW TO APPLY

Apply by using QUB’s Postgraduate Applications Portal go.qub.ac.uk/pgapply and following the step-by-step instructions.
In your proposal, you should provide the following:
• An explanation of why you are interested in this research programme and the core research project of Explaining Atheism: The Causal Origins of Individual and Societal Non-belief
• A brief additional research proposal of your choosing, outlining an additional research topic and methodology within the broad area of Explaining Atheism
• An explanation of how your previous academic training provides a strong basis for you to undertake research in this area (e.g. through the particular modules/courses or dissertation topics that you have pursued, or particular theoretical/methodological approaches that you have become interested in)
•An explanation of how you see this studentship project providing a basis for your future academic or professional work
• Contact details of two academic referees who would be able to comment on your suitability to undertake this research

It is expected that interviews for short-listed candidates will take place online (Microsoft Teams) in May 2022. Short-listed candidates will also be asked to provide a sample of their written work prior to interview.

Applicants are encouraged to acquaint themselves with the results of the Understanding Unbelief (2017-2021) programme, especially the initial report, found at https://research.kent.ac.uk/understandingunbelief/wp-content/uploads/sites/1816/2019/05/UUReportRome.pdf.

Further questions about the Understanding Unbelief programme can be discussed by emailing Dr Lois Lee at l.a.lee@kent.ac.uk.
Further questions about the Explaining Atheism programme can be discussed by contacting Dr Jonathan Lanman at j.lanman@qub.ac.uk.

Funding Information

This DfE funded studentship is open to UK candidates. The value of an award includes the cost of approved fees as well as maintenance support (stipend). As an indicator, the level for 2021/2022 was £15,609.

Project Summary
Supervisor


    Mode of Study

    Full-time: 3 years


    Funding Body
    DfE
    Apply now Register your interest

    Anthropological Studies overview

    Anthropology at Queen's is internationally renowned and a long established and rapidly expanding centre for postgraduate teaching and research training.

    Examine human behaviour and relationships under expert research supervision and join a vibrant interdisciplinary postgraduate research community that includes students from all over the world.

    Our programme, collaborations with other departments and institutions, and excellent resources mean that whatever your area of interest, there is the anthropological expertise to match. We offer supervision in a wide range of topics, including aspects of social and economic change, borders and migration, conflict transformation and human rights, emotions and the senses, gender, kinship and marriage, environmentalism, tourism, new religions and political movements, ethnomusicology, and performance, art and culture.

    A flourishing programme of events, seminars, and research groups complements our postgraduate courses and doctoral supervision.

    Our world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. Learn more about our expertise and click here to find a Phd supervisor and explore research areas.

    About the Programme:
    This programme involves substantial original research, normally including ethnographic fieldwork of 12 months and leading to the production of a thesis of up to 80,000 words.

    The PhD programme is designed to provide training in the methods of independent research and will provide the student with a professional credential at the highest level. The research normally will be based upon an analysis of original field research materials.

    Normally, PhD students during the first year, after about 10 months (or 20 in part-time study) will be examined in the differentiation. In order to progress on the PhD pathway, successful completion of differentiation, and, if required, approval of an Ethical Review application, are conditions for students to proceed to field research for a year (anywhere in the world including the UK). It is expected that students commence the fieldwork from July onwards.

    The School will provide training for the fieldwork, a risk assessment will be conducted and students will discuss with their supervisory team about the resources that will be required. Supervisors offer support throughout the year at the field site.

    The location of the field is your choice, but this is judged and agreed on the merit of the research at the differentiation. After fieldwork, students return to the University and start writing their thesis under the guidance of their supervisors.

    Research Areas:
    Our regional interests include Ireland, the British Isles, Europe, Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, Japan, the Caribbean, Latin America, Melanesia and Australia. We offer supervision in a wide range of topics, including:

    •Aspects of Social and Economic Change
    •Borders, Migration and Transnationalism
    •Conflict Transformation and Human Rights
    •Emotions and The Senses
    •Ethnomusicology
    •Gender, Kinship and Marriage
    •Human/Animal Relations and Environmentalism
    •Identity, Ethnicity and Nationalism
    •Symbols and Rituals
    •Music, Popular Culture and Tourism
    •New Religions and Political Movements
    •Performance, Art and Material Culture
    •Public Policy

    Mode of study/duration:
    Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the School. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD.

    Research Seminars:
    Anthropology postgraduate life centres around the weekly Anthropology seminar, and a regular postgraduate seminar, as well as regular events within the School, in the Institute for Cognition and Culture and the Institute of Irish Studies.

    Community
    The postgraduate community within the School is lively, energetic and diverse and, contribute enormously to the research culture of the school. It includes many of our own graduates, as well as graduates of British and Irish universities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, and UCD, and international institutions such as Princeton, Georgetown and Minzu University Beijing.

    Careers:
    We are proud of the students who have graduated with their doctorates. Where possible we stay in touch so that the link and relationships remain long after a student has left the School. View our alumni here.

    Recent doctoral graduates in Anthropology have gone on to postdoctoral positions in a range of institutions, including the University of Stirling, University of Oxford, Minzu University, University of Waterloo, Masaryk University, University of Sydney and University College Cork; PhD graduates also find employment with a very wide range of employers, including the Council for International Educational Exchange, Handelsbanken Bank, the Institute for Conflict Research, US News and World Report and the Bangladesh Civil Service.

    Anthropological Studies Highlights
    Career Development
    • Queen’s is ranked in the top 140 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020).
    World Class Facilities
    • Queen’s was ranked 3rd out of 199 universities worldwide and 2nd out of 44 UK universities for our Graduate School.
    Student Experience
    • Anthropology provides each research student with a first and second supervisor and supplies additional training through postgraduate and qualitative research methods seminars.
    • Research students discuss and present ongoing work in the weekly postgraduate seminar. They are encouraged to publish an article in an academic journal and present work at national and international conferences.
    • Research students can gain teaching experience as tutors in modules taught in the School.
    • Overall monitoring and evaluation of progress of research students is carried out by the School Postgraduate Research Committee, which also supports with all issues arising from postgraduate admissions and changes of enrolment.
    • Queen’s is ranked 22nd in the world for international outlook (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020).
    • Queen’s was ranked 2nd out of 199 universities worldwide for satisfaction with social facilities.
    • In the Guardian University Guide 2020, Anthropology was ranked:
      Course satisfaction - 9th in the UK for Anthropology.
      Teaching Satisfaction – 7th in the UK for Anthropology.
      Satisfaction with feedback – 6th in the UK for Anthropology
      Student:Staff ratio – 4th in the Uk for Anthropology.
      Spend per student – 6th in the UK for spend per student for Anthropology.
      Value added score – 5th in UK for Anthropology.
    • In the 2020 Guardian League Tables, Anthropology at Queen's was ranked 1st for teaching satisfaction (97.3%) and 2nd in the UK for overall course satisfaction. In the Guardian University Guide 2021, Anthropology was ranked 2nd in the UK.
    Key Facts

    • Queen’s was ranked 3rd out of 199 universities worldwide and 2nd out of 44 UK universities for our Graduate School
    • In the complete University Guide 2020, Anthropology was ranked
      Research Quality – 4th for Anthropology.
      Research Intensity – 8th in the UK for Anthropology.

    Course content

    Research Information

    Research Success
    Our regional interests include Ireland, the British Isles, Europe, Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, Japan, the Caribbean, Latin America, Melanesia and Australia. We offer supervision in a wide range of topics, including:
    •Anthropology and Philosophy
    •Aspects of Social and Economic Change
    •Borders, Migration and Transnationalism
    •Conflict Transformation and Human Rights
    •Emotions and The Senses
    •Gender, Kinship and Marriage
    •Human/Animal Relations and Environmentalism
    •Identity, Ethnicity and Nationalism
    •Symbols and Rituals
    •Music, Popular Culture and Tourism
    •New Religions and Political Movements
    •Performance, Art and Material Culture
    •Public Policy

    Career Prospects

    Introduction
    Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally. For further information on career development opportunities at PhD level please contact the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Career Development Team on ahssdevoffice@qub.ac.uk / +44 28 9097 5175 Development Officers Cathy Wilson and Aileen Carson will be happy to provide further information on your research area career prospects.
    http://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/

    People teaching you

    Dr Jonathan Lanman
    Doctor
    HAPP

    Learning Outcomes

    Course structure

    The PhD programme is designed to provide training in the methods of independent research and will provide the student with a professional credential at the highest level. The research normally will be based upon an analysis of original field research materials.

    Entrance requirements

    Graduate
    The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics.

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,596
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,596
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £4,596
    EU Other 3 £18,000
    International £18,000

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Anthropological Studies costs

    There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.

    Bench fees

    Some research programmes incur an additional annual charge on top of the tuition fees, often referred to as a bench fee. Bench fees are charged when a programme (or a specific project) incurs extra costs such as those involved with specialist laboratory or field work. If you are required to pay bench fees they will be detailed on your offer letter. If you have any questions about Bench Fees these should be raised with your School at the application stage. Please note that, if you are being funded you will need to ensure your sponsor is aware of and has agreed to fund these additional costs before accepting your place.

    How do I fund my study?

    1.PhD Opportunities

    Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.

    2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes

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    3.PhD loans

    The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students.

    4.International Scholarships

    Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.

    Funding and Scholarships

    The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Find a supervisor

    If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.

    To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.

    You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.