PhD

I welcome PhD proposals from students interested in researching any topics that lies at the intersection of politics and the media, across a range of different methodologies (quantitative and qualitative), and either focusing on a single country or comparing different countries.

Loughborough University has launched a new Centre for Doctoral Training in Online Civic Cultures, led Andrew Chadwick, of which I am part. The Centre funds PhD studentships for research that applies cutting-edge concepts and methods from social science and information science to understand the role of social media in shaping our civic culture. See the Centre website for the available scholarships.

Loughborough University is part of the ESRC Midlands Graduate School, and the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture, to which I am affiliated, is the main contact point for the school’s pathway in Communication. Various funding opportunities are available through the Graduate School as well as Loughborough’s School of Social Sciences.

If you have an idea for a research you would like to pursue as a doctoral student, feel free to get in touch with me. Before you do that, have a look at Loughborough University’s “How to Apply” page so you have a sense of what you will be required to provide in your application.

I will also occasionally post outlines of doctoral projects that I would be interested in supervising.

Students in Progress

Amber Macintyre, Royal Holloway, University of London (external supervisor, co-supervised with Ben O’Loughlin and Ursula Hackett): “Surveilling the Surveillants: Organizational Practices, Democratic Debate, and the Ethical Challenges of the Political Monitoring of Citizens”
Amber’s research is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Her project will provide an in-depth account of how and why membership organisations in contemporary Britain acquire and use large quantities of digital data. The project will explore what personal data the organisations gather, through what processes and how the results of data analyses are fed back into their strategies and governance. The project will be able to draw conclusions about how these new practices may limit or promote various forms of democracy.

Rachel Armitage, Loughborough University (co-supervised with Martin Sykora and Cristian Tileagă): “Correcting Misinformation and Disinformation on Social Media”
Rachel’s research is part of the Online Civic Cultures Centre for Doctoral Training. Rachel holds First Class Honours in Political Science from the University of Birmingham where she also won the H. S. Ferns Prize for outstanding achievement. She has worked for Bite the Ballot and Nottingham City Council and in 2016 was awarded the Nottingham Roosevelt Memorial Travelling Scholarship which enabled her to visit the US for three months to explore approaches to voter registration and political engagement amongst young people and marginalised groups in advance of the presidential election. Rachel’s project aims to develop online tools and individual resilience skills that will equip individual users to recognise and challenge online misinformation and disinformation.

Lewis Brown, Loughborough University (co-supervised with Andrew Chadwick): “Think Tanks online: How organisations rooted in old power structures are adapting to wield influence in digital democracies”
Lewis is researching the changing media influence strategies of think tank organisations in the UK, the USA, and Canada. He is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Midlands Doctoral Training Partnership at Loughborough.

Students Who Recently Completed

Dr Nikki Soo, Royal Holloway, University of London (co-supervised with Ben O’Loughlin): “MPs on Standby: Representations and Repair in Everyday MP-Constituent Performance”, passed with no corrections in December 2017
Nikki’s dissertation examined the MP-constituent relationship, focusing on constituency services carried out by the MP and how effective political communication is carried out in the hybrid media environment.

Dr. Ornella Urso, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence: “The framing of immigration in Italy and Spain. A newspaper content analysis, 1995-2011”, PhD awarded cum laude in 2016.
Ornella’s dissertation explored the connection between framing and politicization of the immigration through the integration of media studies and political science. It shed light on the framing of immigration in the news at the national level while assessing the extent to which different factors have driven the process in Italy and Spain over more than fifteen years.

Dr. Diego Ceccobelli, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence (co-supervised with Ben O’Loughlin): “Political leaders on Facebook: A comparative analysis on popularization in contemporary liberal democracies”, PhD awarded in 2015.
Diego’s dissertation investigated how 127 political leaders in 31 contemporary liberal democracies communicate on Facebook, and how users interact with leaders’ messages from September 2012 until October 2014. Based on hand coding of 25,151 posts, the research finds that Facebook fosters the personalization and popularization of political communication, and that, while leaders publish a large amount of posts emphasizing policy proposals, Facebook users prefer to like and share posts that attack political opponents. Finally, Diego employed Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to shed light on the role of systemic characteristics, in particular the presence of presidentialism.