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SCDTP Studentship - Mill’s Harm Principle and Contemporary Public Policy

Politics & International Relations

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £15009
(19/20 UKRI rate)
Closing Date:  Thursday 23 January 2020
Reference:  1079318CC

Mill’s Harm Principle and Contemporary Public Policy

A fully funded studentship awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP) commencing in 2020/21 Academic Year.

Supervisory Team:

Ben Saunders (PAIR( has published numerous articles on Mill’s moral and political thought, including on the harm principle (Saunders 2016). Brian McElwee (Philosophy) works in moral and political philosophy, with a focus on consequentialist theories. Both are contributors to the Blackwell Companion to Mill (Macleod and Miller eds., 2016). Other supervisors may be appointed, depending on the topic area chosen.

John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1861) argued that the only acceptable reason for coercive interference with someone’s actions is to prevent harm to others. This principle has been applied to numerous areas of contemporary policy concern, including the regulation of hate speech (Brown 2008), GM food (Holtug 2001), alcohol (Saunders 2013), and genetic technology (Burley 2008). This project aims to build on such work, by carrying out a detailed application of the harm principle to a particular policy issue, in order both to contribute to policy discussions and to better understand and assess the harm principle itself.

Skills Required

In addition to the generic skills required of any PhD student (project management, written and oral communication skills, etc), this project will require close engagement with Mill’s texts and with policy debates/evidence in the relevant area. The ideal candidate will have some background in both politics/public policy and philosophy, though we are open to those whose formal education has been in either field only, provided they show an aptitude for engaging with the other. Applicants for a +3 PhD will require an MSc or equivalent, evidencing aptitude in social science research methodologies. Those applying for 1+3 will receive training in social research methods.


South Coast DTP Funding provides an annual maintenance grant (tax free) of £15009 (2019/20 UKRI rate), plus payment of all programme fees.  Other funding available for SCDTP funded students can be found on the SCDTP website (

Funding is provided for 3 years full-time PhD study (pro-rata for part-time students).  Applications for 1+3 funding for students completing a Master's year prior to the commencement of PhD study are also welcome (details available at

Application Procedure

The closing date and time for applications is 4.00pm on 23rd January 2020.  The full application procedure, the funding application form, and more information on the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership can be found at:

For further information about this project, please contact the lead supervisor detailed above.  For questions relating to the application procedure, or for more information about the SCDTP, please visit the SCDTP website or contact us at

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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