The Politics of Conflict in Authoritarian Regime Legitimation

Interdisciplinary PhD Scholarships on the Theme of Conflict

Have you recently completed or expect very soon to complete an MA/MSc in either Political Science or Media/Communications? Are you interested in carrying out interdisciplinary research on the politics and media in authoritarian regimes during the next years, commencing in September 2022? 

The School of Law and Government and School of Communications are offering a fully funded, four-year fees + stipend PhD scholarship in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at Dublin City University. The project will be supervised by Alexander Baturo and Tetyana Lokot. This is one of four interdisciplinary PhD Scholarships being offered in the Faculty from 2022. Note that candidates may apply for one scholarship only. 

TITLEAuthoritarian Regime Legitimation and Communication Strategies: An Interdisciplinary Approach


Authoritarian regimes rely not only on repression and co-optation to remain in power, but they also make consistent efforts to justify why their rule is legitimate by communicating to the public, elites, and international actors. In speeches and propaganda broadcast in the media, they often employ the language of division and conflict. Communication centred on violence and division fosters intimidation and apathy, often preventing collective action; it also serves to mobilize and rally. This communication is often, but not always, successful in influencing public attitudes. 

How do autocratic governments rely on the language of conflict and division in their regime legitimation attempts? How are their public messages propagated in the media and what are the policy, societal and political implications of the increased usage of rhetorical frames centred on conflict?

The project will study the subject of authoritarian communication from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing from the theories and empirical methods developed in the fields of political science and media studies/communications. It will attempt to bridge the disciplinary gap between political science that studies authoritarian legitimation, and the field of communications that studies how strategic frames are propagated in the media. 

Candidate profile
The ideal candidate must have recently completed or expect to complete very soon an MA/MSc or equivalent degree in Political Science/Politics/International Relations or in Media/Communicatons/Journalism (or a closely related area). The candidate is expected to have first class or upper second-class Honours bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree. In addition, the applicant should:

  • Have a strong background and/or research interest in the politics and media of authoritarian and hybrid regimes 
  • We are particularly interested in applicants with the knowledge of societies and languages of the post-Soviet region and Eastern Europe, but in principle we are open to excellent applicants from other geographical regions interested in the substantive area of the project
  • Have excellent skills in quantitative and/or qualitative research methods and be interested in applying them in interdisciplinary contexts  
  • Desirable – have familiarity with the text-as-data (quantitative text analysis) and relevant software tools or willingness to acquire the knowledge as a doctoral student
  • Have excellent knowledge of written and spoken English (See DCU’s requirements for English language skills; applicants must ensure that they meet these requirements before submitting an application
  • Meet DCU’s general entry requirements (see general entry requirements here).




The strict deadline for applications is: 19 April, 2022 at 5:00 pm (Irish Standard Time / UTC+1). Applications received after this deadline will not be considered. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview around the middle of May. 

What to submit:

Candidates should email their applications in a single PDF file to and with “Interdisciplinary PhD in Conflict” in the subject line. This application must include:

  1. A brief cover letter (1-2 pages max) outlining your motivation for applying
  2. A complete version of this form 

Note: Incomplete applications will be deemed ineligible.


Applications will be reviewed by the supervisory panel and short-listed. Short-listed candidates will be invited for interview (online). If successful at the interview stage, candidates will then be invited to make a formal application to DCU via the Student Application Portal. Applicants are expected to read the information available here on the general process for PhD applications to DCU. Please note that the offer of a scholarships is not a formal offer of a place for PhD studies at DCU. The latter is made only after successful application via the Student Application Portal and verification of eligibility. 

For queries contact: and