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PhD in Asylum Decision-Making and the Reception of International Rulings

The Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, is seeking applications for a position as PhD. The position is part of the research project “Anchoring International Law’s Dynamism: Tracing Denmark’s Reception of International Rulings (ANCHOR)” and is available from 1 September 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter, for a duration of 36 months. The PhD scholarship is fully funded and salaried.

About the ANCHOR project
Over the past few years, several international courts have faced critique by policymakers for developing international law too dynamically. Consequently, scholarly literature argued that we are entering a period of backlash, with states actively trying to hedge against the domestic impact of international rulings. Yet, little is known about how – and under what conditions – interpretive shifts are accepted or resisted within the day-to-day work of domestic legal systems. The research project ANCHOR, led by Associate Professor Nora Stappert and funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, focuses on international refugee and migration law to understand the reception of international rulings: While an area of frequent political contestation, there also has been a significant increase in international case law in this field. The project draws on an extensive dataset of case law from the Danish Refugee Appeals Board (Flygtningenævnet) and combines legal doctrinal and computational methods.

The PhD will define his or her own research idea and project within the ANCHOR project. Among other options, the PhD project could focus on one or more legal areas or case clusters when analyzing case law from the Danish Refugee Appeals Board. Furthermore, potentially relevant international rulings include cases by the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and UN human rights treaty bodies. Methodologically, the PhD project could use a combination of doctrinal legal methods and empirical research methods, such as interviews. Using computational methods will be a further option, depending on the PhD student’s interests and research profile.

The PhD student will be based at the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center of Excellence for Global Mobility Law (MOBILE). The center’s mission is to systematically study the legal infrastructures of human mobility across geographies, social divides, travel patterns and time. At MOBILE, the PhD student will be embedded in a vibrant team of scholars working on refugee and migration law, and be part of an interdisciplinary research environment combining expertise in law, data science, refugee studies, political science, and sociology of law. A relevant educational background and/or experience in one of these fields is necessary, experience in more than one desirable.

The PhD Programme
The PhD will be part of the wider PhD Programme offered by the Faculty of Law. The goal of the PhD Programme is threefold: to prepare candidates for a continuing career in teaching and research; to educate a new generation of scholars to produce high-quality independent research; and to equip them with the analytical and problem-solving skills required for a successful career in both the public and private sectors.

The Faculty of Law offers supervision by highly qualified academics and provides an excellent opportunity to research contemporary legal issues in an intellectually stimulating environment.

Successful PhD candidates are required to:

  • Actively engage in the research environment at the University of Copenhagen; participate in international conferences, courses, and meetings relevant to their research project
  • Comply with the formal requirements of the PhD programme
  • Contribute to teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses in Danish or English offered by the Faculty of Law
  • Conduct independent and high-quality research under the supervision of a senior member of academic staff at the Faculty, in this case Associate Professor Nora Stappert.


  • Applicants must have obtained a Master’s Degree in either law or a related discipline that corresponds to the Danish Master of Laws degree, i.e., a second cycle 120 ECTS degree (two years of full-time studies) that builds on a 180 ECTS bachelor’s degree (three years of full-time studies) or equivalent qualifications. Applicants with a non-Danish Master’s degree will have their degree assessed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in order to establish if the Master’s degree is equivalent to a Danish Master’s degree.
  • Applicants must have obtained a minimum overall grade average of 8.2 or above at the Master’s level in accordance with the Danish grading scale (for Danish scale, see Grading system — English (
  • Applicants may submit their application before they have completed their Master’s Degree. The Master’s degree must be obtained before the start date.
  • Applicants must document an aptitude for research through the meritorious assessment of their final thesis, publications, or academic recommendations in order to show that they are capable of undertaking the demanding task of writing a PhD thesis.
  • Prior knowledge of and/or practical experience with refugee and migration law will be an advantage.
  • Experience with empirical legal research, including computational methods, will be an advantage, as the PhD student will be expected to engage with empirical legal research methods. In cases in which candidates do not have prior experience in this regard, candidates will at least need to have an active interest in empirical legal research.
  • As the PhD position will involve working on a large dataset of case law in Danish, applicants must be able to read Danish or a related Nordic language.
  • Applicants must have excellent language skills in English and have excellent communications skills. Applicants must be able to teach at an academic level in Danish or English and to follow PhD courses in English.

Application procedure
Click ’Apply now’ below to be taken to the online application form.

We advise you to have the following documents ready before you begin your online application:

  • Research project proposal: This should include the following: (1) objective(s) of the research, (2) major research questions, (3) review of relevant literature, (4) methodology to be applied in the research, and (5) a timetable that plans for all course requirements to have been met within three years. The project description must elaborate on the value of the proposed research project in terms of its relevance to existing and future research in the field. It is recommended that the project proposal does not exceed 6 A4 pages (excluding bibliography). The document must be in Times New Roman, font size 12, spacing 1.5 with all margins (right, left, top and bottom) set to 2 cm.
  • Curriculum vitae (maximum 2 pages).
  • Diplomas and transcripts: Certified copies of original diploma(s) and transcripts (both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree) in the original language and an authorized English translation if they are issued in other language than English or Danish.
  • Grading scale: A certified explanation of grading scale in the original language and an authorized English translation if it is available in another language than English or Danish.
  • Letter of motivation: Explain the choice of the Faculty of Law at the University of Copenhagen as a host institution for the proposed project and outline how the project fits within the research priorities at the Faculty (maximum 1 page).
  • Documentation of English level: Documentation of English level can for instance be documented by an excellent IELTS or TOEFL test.

Submit your application electronically in English.

University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding society and therefore encourages all interested parties regardless of personal background to apply for the position.

Recruitment process
Following the application deadline, the Associate Dean of Research will pre-select PhD applications that will proceed to the assessment stage upon the recommendation of the Selection Committee. Applicants are pre-selected for further assessment in line with the Faculty’s recruitment needs as described in this job advertisement. This is carried out based on the overall assessment of the applicant’s educational qualifications, the quality of the submitted research proposal and its relevance to the Faculty’s research agenda, and other relevant qualifications (e.g., relevant professional experience, any previous academic publications, etc.). All applicants are then notified by the HR Centre as to whether their application has proceeded to the assessment stage. The assessment is carried out by an expert assessment committee. Selected applicants will be notified of the composition of the assessment committee. When the committee has completed its assessment, each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the assessment. A number of qualified applicants will be invited for an interview.

Terms of employment
Successful candidates will be employed in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations and the Ministry of Finance concerning the salary of PhD students. If you are offered a PhD position, you will receive a regular monthly salary in accordance with Danish law and you will be entitled to an annual research budget. The Faculty does not provide accommodation.

Additional Information
For questions regarding the research project, please contact Associate Professor Nora Stappert, email:

Information about the recruitment process is available from HR, e-mail: hrsc@hrsc.ku.dkplease refer to ID number: 211-1779/24-2H #1.

Closing date for applications
The closing date for applications is 26 May 202423:59 CEST.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Likewise incomplete applications (i.e., without all required documents) will be rejected.


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