2 PhD Studentships in Politics and International Relations

BIOSEC Biodiversity and Security: Understanding environmental crime, illegal wildlife trade and threat finance.

The Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield is pleased to offer two PhD studentships for exceptional candidates. Applications are welcomed from Masters graduates working in any of the sub-fields of Politics and International Relations, Human Geography or Development Studies. The studentships will offer the successful candidates the opportunity to pursue innovative doctoral research with outstanding supervision in one of the UK’s leading departments of Politics. Successful candidates will be expected to build on existing links to other Departments and Centres at the University, notably the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID), the Department of Geography and the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences.

The two studentships are part of a bigger programme of research led by Professor Rosaleen Duffy on the interlinkages between biodiversity and security, funded by an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant of EURO 1.8 million (2016-2020). The project is Biodiversity and Security: Understanding environmental crime, illegal wildlife trade and threat finance. First supervision will be provided by Professor Rosaleen Duffy (Politics, from 1 September 2016), second supervision will be provided by Professor Dan Brockington (SIID).

Further details of the two linked PhD projects are given below.

The studentships are tenable for three years from 1 October 2016 and will be based in the Department of Politics. The studentships cover the cost of home/EU or International rate tuition fees (£4,120 pa/£15,250 respectively in 2016/17) together with a tax free maintenance grant (£14,292 pa in 2016/17) and full funding for fieldwork and attendance at a major international conference each year.

Applicants should apply for admission to the Department’s PhD programme via:


Applicants should indicate on the application that they wish to be considered for the BIOSEC studentships.

Applicants are asked to include a short statement (1000 words maximum) as to why they are interested in conducting this PhD, and why they are particularly suitable for this post.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview with Professor Rosaleen Duffy and Professor Dan Brockington (date to be determined between 11-28 July 2016)

All enquiries about the studentship to Professor Rosaleen Duffy, rd38@soas.ac.uk, or our Graduate School Administrator, Sarah Cooke, at s.cooke@sheffield.ac.uk

For more information on the Department of Politics, please see: http://www.shef.ac.uk/politics

Further details of the projects

PhD Studentship One: Wildlife trafficking and global security: The EU response

This PhD Project will focus on the emerging European Union policy response to wildlife trafficking to understand how it combines with rising concerns about global security. With 27 member states, the EU is one of three biggest markets in the world (Japan and USA are the other two) for wildlife products. Wildlife products are used for food, pets, clothing, ornaments and medicines, and key items are caviar, reptiles (geckos, tortoises, snakes), amphibians, vicuna wool, ivory, rhino horn, ornamental fish and live rock (corals). The EU is a consumer and producer of illegal wildlife products, as well as being a significant transit route for wildlife as it moves from source to end user markets. European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime (EFFACE) funded by the EU brings together researchers and think tanks to assess the impacts of environmental crime as well as suggesting effective and feasible policy responses, with a focus on the EU. Empirical data collection will focus on the range of EU agencies involved in responses to wildlife trafficking. Data collection will focus on three main groups: a) CITES, EUROPOL and INTERPOL as key regulatory bodies; b) conservation NGOs and c) Government bodies. The successful candidate will have significant scope to develop the project in their own way.

PhD Studentship Two: Green Surveillance Technologies

This PhD project will examine the rise in the use of covert and overt surveillance technologies for securing biodiversity. It will investigate the use of new ‘green surveillance technologies’ used by states, NGOs and activist movements to monitor biodiversity losses. These include Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), thermal imaging, night vision, camera traps, GPS and nanotech tracking devices, and the Smithsonian Barcode of Wildlife, amongst others. The is an under-researched topic, and biodiversity conservation is an area where the application of drones has been enthusiastically taken up by NGOs to offer increased security and protection for endangered wildlife; it has also been embraced by environmental activists, seeking to expose environmentally damaging activities of corporations, livestock farmers, organised crime networks and fishing fleets. This project will examine the wider social and political implications of using drones via two specific case studies (possibly France and Madagascar, but these are negotiable and may be shaped by the expertise/interests of the successful candidate). It aims to open a theoretical and policy debate on the wider social implications of the use of greater levels of security-related surveillance technologies in the service of biodiversity protection. These include issues of personal privacy, free prior and informed consent, the extension of surveillance into greater areas of life and the challenges of secure data storage and who should gain access to the data produced by drone use. The successful candidate will have significant scope to develop the project in their own way.