Joint PhD degree, Belfast and Aarhus (5+3)

Joint PhD degree between Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland and Aarhus University, Denmark

The Graduate School at Arts, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University, in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast, invites applications for a joint fully-funded 3-year PhD fellowship in Cognitive Science of Religion starting on 1 September 2017. The candidate who is awarded the fellowship must commence his/her PhD degree programme on 1 September 2017.

Joint degree between Queen’s University Belfast and Aarhus University

Queen’s University Belfast and Aarhus University have established a joint Doctoral (PhD) programme in the Cognitive Science of Religion. The two universities will provide the joint supervision of PhD students, encourage the establishment of joint research projects, and collaborate on joint summer schools, PhD courses, and other academic activities. The universities will provide a principal supervisor at the lead university and a co-supervisor at the partner university. The lead university will be responsible for the overall administration of the student’s work and the examination process. All PhD students, whether situated at Queen’s University Belfast or Aarhus University, must satisfy the admission requirements of and will be registered as full-time PhD students at both universities.

Queen’s University Belfast and Aarhus University have embarked on the collaborative project Cognitive Science of Religion. The aim is to discuss, develop and evaluate practice in relation to excellence in European doctoral training. Together the two universities will pilot a set of standards for excellence regarding support, supervision, employer engagement, employability and mobility in doctoral education. Among the desired outcomes of the project is a model for joint PhD degree programmes, including approaches to supervision and skills development as well as the introduction of a standardised doctoral diploma supplement that will strengthen the doctoral candidate in the pursuit of his or her future career.

As part of the project, the two universities invite applications for a joint PhD fellowship in the fields of Cognitive Science of Religion where the two universities have mutual strengths and can offer excellent research environments. The doctoral candidates are required to spend time at each university, have a supervisor at each institution and will receive a single degree signed by both universities. Furthermore, the candidate will take part in developing, piloting and evaluating new innovative standards for doctoral training. This could include attending a small amount of specialist training, engaging with pilot activities, participating in a personal career development programme and providing feedback on the process. Finally, the doctoral candidates are expected to take an active part in the development, evaluation and dissemination of the activities and practices associated with Cognitive Science of Religion through e.g. conference participation.

Since the doctoral student will receive a single joint degree, his/her research project will be subject to an evaluation meeting according to the standards of both Queen’s University Belfast and Aarhus University. The format of the evaluation will be based on the procedures of the lead university in cooperation with the partner university.

Since the doctoral student will receive a single joint degree, his/her research project will be subject to an evaluation meeting according to the standards of both Queen’s University Belfast and Aarhus University. The format of the evaluation will be a combination of a public defence and a viva.

The details regarding time spent at each university, supervision, evaluation as well as other legal matters will be specified in a contract – a so-called memorandum of agreement – prior to the start of the PhD project.


Cognitive Science of Religion

The Cognitive Science of Religion is a unique approach to religion as it involves a combination of methodologies drawn from the humanities and social sciences together with the psychological and medical sciences. This approach has led to new hypotheses and theories that have been found useful in the broader fields of comparative religion, the anthropology of religion, sociology of religion, psychology of religion and theology. The approach is also making an impact in related fields that are interested in religion, such as archaeology, art history, semiotics, literature and various area studies.

The Cognitive Science of Religion is a fast-growing field in which the two institutions have played a key role. It has been a fundamental component of the Institute of Cognition and Culture in Belfast and a major area of attraction to students there. At the Religion, Cognition and Culture Research Unit (RCC) in Aarhus, it is the centre of focus, and has attracted students at advanced levels in Denmark and from abroad.

For further information, please contact Professor Armin W. Geertz, Department of the Study of Religion, School of Culture and Society,, Phone + 45 87 16 24 73.


Queen’s University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast is a member of the Russell Group of 24 leading UK research-intensive universities.

Founded as Queen’s College in 1845, it became a university in its own right in 1908. Today, it is an international centre of research and education rooted at the heart of Northern Ireland.

With more than 17,000 students and 3,700 staff, it is a dynamic and diverse institution, a magnet for inward investment, a patron of the arts and a global player in areas ranging from cancer studies to sustainability, and from pharmaceuticals to creative writing.


Aarhus University
Currently, 275 PhD students are enrolled at the Graduate School, Arts. Aarhus University is a modern, academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 44,500 students and 11,500 employees, and has an annual budget of EUR 830 million. Over the course of the past decade, the university has consolidated its position in the top 100 on the most influential rankings of universities world-wide. Learn more at


Enrolment and employment at Aarhus University

The PhD student must complete the studies in accordance with the current regulations for the PhD degree programme, currently the Ministerial Order of 27 August 2013 on the PhD degree programme at the Universities:

Description of the Graduate School at Art’s PhD degree programme (5+3):

Rules and regulations for the PhD degree programme at the Graduate School at Arts:

The PhD fellow will be employed as a PhD student at the Department of the Study of Religion, School of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University and affiliated with the PhD programme Anthropology, International Areas Studies and Study of Religion. In general, the student is expected to be present at the department on an everyday basis when he/she is in Denmark.

The terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations, as well as with the protocol to the agreement covering staff with university degrees in the state sector:


The School of Culture and Society’s research programme:


If you require professional guidance regarding your application for a PhD fellowship please contact the head of the PhD programme Anthropology, International Areas Studies and Study of Religion

You must enclose documentation stating that you have submitted your Master’s thesis for assessment by the deadline for application, and you must have completed your two year Master’s degree (120 ECTS) no later than 31 August 2017.

Applications for the PhD fellowship and enrolment in the PhD degree programme can only be submitted via Aarhus University’s web-based facility.

Guidelines for the application facility:


Deadline for applications: 15 March 2017 at 23:59 CET
Reference number: 2017-2


During the assessments, AU can conduct interviews with selected applicants.