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PhD Fellowships in European Union Law at the University of Southern Denmark

At the Department of Law, University of Southern Denmark, 1-2 PhD fellowships in EU law will be available as of 1 January 2024, or by further agreement. The place of work will be SDU Campus Odense.

Job description
The responsibilities of the PhD fellows at the Department of Law for this call include the following tasks:

  • Writing a PhD thesis on EU law, taking account of the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) linked to the job description and research project below.
  • Undertake some teaching within the context of the fellowship.
  • Supervise bachelors and master students for their theses.
  • Take part in various knowledge exchange activities both inside and outside the university.
  • Build relations to and cooperate with external stakeholders.
  • Undertake administrative tasks related to research and teaching.

The PhD position(s) principally involves research obligations. The position is aimed at candidates who will be able to contribute to the research of the department, with emphasis on conducting a PhD thesis in EU law, focusing on the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

For the research project, some of the tasks will include preparing, undertaking, and supporting the project’s programme, including, coordinating the research project’s activities, and contributing to the dissemination of the project, and other associated roles. At the Department of Law at University of Southern Denmark, we offer the opportunity to be part of a research team that has a significant emphasis on publishing its research in international peer-reviewed journals.

The position is fixed-term and is three-years of duration from the date the successful candidate(s) takes up their position to complete their Ph.D. thesis.

A Ph.D. is a research degree at the highest international level. You will become part of active learning environments, in Denmark as well as abroad, and you will obtain an extensive academic knowledge e.g. by participating in relevant Ph.D. courses. Furthermore, you will gain teaching experience since part of the program involves teaching certain courses. You are expected to be able to teach in Danish and/or English.

You will become part of the excellent research environment at our department, and we expect you to show commitment and visibility and to contribute to the department’s positive work environment as well as the continuous operation of the department. Read more about The Department of Law on our website.

Research project
Most legal research probes and analyses what courts have explicitly decided. By contrast, this research project embarks on a different path, by analysing what the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has implicitly not decided. The project thus probes the CJEU’s passivity. In doing so, the project led by the Principial Investigator (P.I.), Professor Graham Butler, demonstrates why and how the CJEU engages in judicial minimalism (alternatively known as passivism, conservatism, and restraint).

The CJEU is sporadically, and improperly portrayed as an activist institution, with a pro-European integration approach in its judicial decision-making. Such assertions by some jurists, academics, and even the wider public are expressions of a mere subjective viewpoint, based upon highly selective samples of cases, and is ordinarily a politically driven charge or accusation, without any basis in law or reason. As an overarching claim or narrative, this is simply unseemly, and a perspective that does not stand up to wider scrutiny in the context of the broader case-law of the CJEU.

Instead, what the CJEU does is engage in judicial minimalism. This is the exercise, by a court of law, of deciding no more than it must, and viewed as an adjudication practice of refusing to answer all questions in all cases put before a court of law all of the time. Moreover, judicial minimalism sees that there be no sweeping or expansive judgments, avoidance of judgments that delve into matters that are absent of legal criteria. The doctrine reasserts the basis of the need for legal certainty, the predictability of law, and the necessary separations of powers in legal systems. It is consistent with a case-law based system of precedent and attempts at ensuring that any sharp turns that deviate from previous rulings are avoided.

Judicial minimalism has yet to fully feature in the narrative concerning judicial adjudication by the CJEU. Elaborating on judicial minimalism through research supervised by the P.I. will better help with the understanding the CJEU’s rulings, and place them in a broader context, demonstrating that judicial minimalism is on full display, and that the CJEU is not quite the motor or engine of European integration as sometimes claimed. It will furthermore contribute to ensuring that a more accurate portrayal of the CJEU’s decisions.

Applicants are welcome to submit their research proposal in any area of EU law that may concern judicial minimalism and the CJEU.

The research project is funded by the Sapere Aude Research Leader award, received by the P.I. from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond) (DFF).

Qualification requirements

Applicants should hold a cand.jur (LL.M.), cand.merc.jur, or other form of postgraduate legal education. If candidates have not completed their legal education yet, they should be able to demonstrate proof of being about to complete it. Records of any published research prior to the application may be regarded as an advantage, and experience outside of legal research may be considered relevant for candidates’ applications. However, the combined contents of the application, enthusiasm, and determination of the candidate will be taken into consideration in order to find the best match for the position/team.

No teaching experience is necessary for the position, as the position principally involves writing a Ph.D. thesis in law. However, given that the position does involve some teaching on the bachelor’s and master’s degrees that the university offers, candidates must be prepared to teach on a suitable course within their areas of competence.

For further information about the fellowship, please contact:

Professor Graham Butler
Email: grbu@sam.sdu.dk

Employment and application
Your employment as a Salaried PhD Research Fellow is governed by the agreement of 10 November 2015 on Graduate Employees in government appendix 5 – protocol on PhD Research Fellows. The scholarship runs for three years.

When you apply for this position, it is mandatory to attach the following:

  1. Motivated application letter
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Certificates/diplomas including all results (Masters degree, Bachelors degree, etc.)
  4. List of publications (if any)
  5. A project description, containing information concerning the research planned with in the scope of the application, linked to the CJEU and EU law (max 5 pages of 2400 characters each, including spaces, notes, appendices, bibliography etc.)
  6. An abstract for the above project description of no more than 250 words
  7. Up to three academic publications (if any). Please attach a pdf file for each publication. If there are co-authors on a publication, a co-author declaration must be attached in the relevant pdf file, stating the applicant’s contribution to the publication.

When applying for a PhD scholarship, please fill in the application form available on our web page. On the webpage of the PhD-school, you can find the guidelines for preparing your project proposal within the PhD programme in Law.

Documents which are not in Danish, Norwegian or Swedish must be translated into English. SDU may discard applications which are incomplete regarding the above-mentioned criteria without further notice.

Without warning, SDU may discard applications which are incomplete regarding the above-mentioned criteria.

Application procedure
When the deadline for applications has expired, a number of applications are selected for an academic evaluation (shortlisting), based on an overall assessment of which of the applicants as regards both their qualifications and their project description match the project.

Subsequently, the chosen applicants will be assessed by a committee from the Ph.D. School. The assessment committee evaluates the applications based on the guidelines for recognising merit at the Department of Law. Once they have submitted their report, each of the applicants in concern will receive the evaluation concerning him/her. A number of applicants will then be invited to a job interview.

Applications that are incomplete with regard to the above requirements will not be assessed.

Once the assessment committee have completed their assessment, each of the applicants concerned will receive the evaluation concerning them. The appointments committee will manage and complete the job interviews, should such be conducted. Additionally, the appointments committee determines which candidate(s) will be offered a position.

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Applications must be submitted electronically using the link “Apply online”. Uploaded files must be in Adobe PDF (unlocked) or Word format.

Read the guideline for applicants

Each field can only contain a single file of max. 10 Mb.

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