PhD Topics – University of Copenhagen

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CECS > PhD Topics

PhD Topics

CECS is interested in PhD projects within Constitutional Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, EU Constitutional Law, International Law and Legal Cultural Studies. In this call we are especially interested in PhD projects which are related to the following research projects which CECS is currently involved in:

Til toppen A New Era of Parliamentarism in the Arab World

The recent upheavals in the Arab world have led to a massive transformation of the socio-political landscape in the region. As autocracies were toppled by popular uprisings, there was much hope that a new era of parliamentarism was about to begin. These hopes have, largely, not come to pass. The legislative function as an independent branch of government has remained underdeveloped and despite the popular clamour for participation and better governance, representative democracy has yet to gain a foothold.

As part of an ongoing international and multi-disciplinary research project, the Centre invites qualified candidates to submit proposals on any aspect of the functioning of the modern Arab/Muslim state, especially the role of public law and the legislative function. The project itself is particularly interested in how popular hopes and pressures have played out in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings of the past five years, not only in the sense of whether revolutionary demands have been met, but in the broader sense of how parliamentary politics are organised and legislative work carried out in the wake of these upheavals. Individual doctoral projects can fit within these broad frames, but the Centre is also open for more expansive interpretations of the institutional challenge faced by Arab states and societies.

Contact person: Associate Professor Ebrahim Afsah:

Til toppen Public Law in Fragile States: The Missing Dimension of Bureaucracy

Legal scholarship generally leaves the question of implementation unaddressed, treating the state and its bureaucratic machinery as a given, not as an object of inquiry. Research and instruction mostly focus on the investigation of normative systems and deliberately ignore the underlying question of administrative capacity. The question of how to build effective legal institutions and rule-bound administrative systems in fragile contexts is largely ignored. However, the need to analyse the inner workings of legal institutions is evident where bureaucracies are weak and inefficient. This research focuses on the legal and administrative reality in societies marked by fragile state structures. By looking at the governance output in terms of essential services rather than merely the dogmatic norms, the aim is to ascertain the role of law in the creation, maintenance and betterment of institutions after violent conflict.  The proposed Ph.D. research should seek to investigate how public law works under conditions of weak administrative capability in states emerging from violent conflict or endemic dysfunction. It would be advisable to propose projects with a clear geographic and sectoral focus, for example taxation/resource collection, public health, education, etc. in sensibly selected case studies, ideally involving field work.

Contact person: Associate Professor Ebrahim Afsah:

Til toppen Sanctions and the Enforcement of International Law

The recently concluded Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the so-called ’Nuclear Deal’) –a non-legally binding agreement between the governments of Iran and a number of powerful nations– sought to resolve a long-standing political and legal dispute over non-proliferation. Having averted the real risk of major warfare, the agreement stands out as an example of the promise of international law to create a peaceful international order despite deeply entrenched ideological animosities and diverging material interests. The implementation of the agreement, however, has proven challenging, especially the dismantling of the elaborate and extremely intrusive sanctions regime built through unilateral, regional, and multilateral action over the course of several decades. The Centre thus invites thesis proposals exploring the role of sanctions in the enforcement of public international law, and is especially interested in projects that seek to investigate the complex relationship between national commercial and criminal law, transnational and extraterritorial enforcement of such national law, and their interplay with the sanctions regime created under public international law.

Contact person: Associate Professor Ebrahim Afsah:

Til toppen New forms of court legitimacy in a European perspective

CECS has recently had a joint research project with the European University Institute on ‘Judges as Guardians of Constitutionalism and Human Rights’. This has led CECS to an interest in different forms of new court legitimacy. The proposed PhD topic will focus on how traditional normative court legitimacy might be supplemented by other new forms of court legitimacy for instance social court legitimacy and popular legitimacy. Until now normative court legitimacy has been prevailing in Europe according to legal literature. However, is this changing? And why (it could maybe be coupled to EU integration, opinion polls etc.). What are the consequences? This project will consist of an empirical part and a theoretical part and build on a comparison of a number of European Supreme/Constitutional Courts.   

Contact person: Professor Helle Krunke:

Til toppen Issues of constitutional legitimacy and constitutional pluralism

This research area invites candidates who may be interested in working with Comparative Constitutional Law in an African, European and Middle Eastern context, as well as candidates who might be interested in working with issues of constitutionalism on different levels including regional, state, sub-national spheres and the relations of these levels within the constitutional structure and territorial nature of the state. Candidates interested in the relations between religion and law, such as Hebrew Law and Israeli Constitutionalism or Islamic Constitutionalism are also invited. The existence of secular and religious states and cultures of constitutionalism raises questions of plural values legitimating constitutions and addresses constitutions in societies characterized by legal pluralism asthey are often found in both Africa and the Middle East, where relations between theology/religion and law have historically played an important role. This role is now growing also in Europe.

Contact person: Professor Antoni Abat:

Til toppen Solidarity and legality in changing legal cultures – European and Chinese perspectives

In a globalized world new interaction between individualism and collectivism is emerging as a result of digitalization, demographic changes, new mentalities and new relations – including trade, gender and generational relations. This is leading to new forms of legality understood both as institutions, regulations, normative principles and morality. Issues of social cohesion as well as social harmony and stability are pressing issues and common concerns in most parts of the world in the 21st century as is sustainability and justice. This project intends to identify discourses and reflections on solidarity, normativity and legality in a Chinese and European context of different but increasingly interacting legal and normative cultures. The aim is to contribute to an understanding of how these challenges are addressed, and to how they may be answered both practically and theoretically in a contemporary and future world.

Contact person: Professor Hanne Petersen:

Til toppen European Union Citizenship

European citizenship was established with the Treaty of Maastricht, which entered into force in 1993. It has since developed into becoming a very important legal concept with huge implications. Therefore, this area may give rise to many interesting and pertinent studies.

Research could for instance take its point of departure in one of the following more general themes: union citizenship and economic rights; union citizenship and social rights (welfare state services); union citizenship and fundamental rights; the relationship between free movement of workers and union citizenship; union citizenship and education; the rights of family members to a union citizen; or the rights of third country nationals. Other angles could also be taken such as: Welfare Tourism – Myth or Reality.

The proposed project should investigate one of the many important facets of the concept of union citizenship, but also challenges deriving therefrom.

Contact person: Professor, Dr. Ulla Neergaard:

Til toppen Services of General Economic Interest (SGEIs)

Ever since the Treaty of Rome, the concept SGEI has existed in EU law as it is regulated in what is now Article 106 TFEU. Today, it is also mentioned in Article TFEU, Protocol Article 14 of the Treaty of Lisbon, and Article 36 CFREU. Plenty of related primary law provisions are of importance too, as well as secondary regulation and soft law. It is related to various other concepts among which the following are particularly important: services of general interest (SGIs) and non-economic services of general interest (NESGIs). With the Treaty of Lisbon, the concept seems revitalised. However, at the same time more problems seem to have come to life, and research in the area has become of great importance.

Focus could take its point of departure in SGEIs and a specific legal field, such as e.g.: SGEIs and procurement law; SGEIs and state aid law; SGEIs and free movement law, SGEIs and fundamental rights; SGEIs and union citizenship; or SGEIs and competition law. It could in the alternative take its point of departure in a more sector-specific view such as e.g.: SGEIs and one of the infra-structure sectors (telecommunications, energy, etc.); SGEIs and certain social services; SGEIs and health care; SGEIs and certain pensions; SGEIs and education. Furthermore, it could e.g. look into issues such as solidarity or distribution of competences between the EU, the Member States and/or the regional levels.

The proposed project should investigate one of the many important facets of the concept of SGEIs.

Contact person: Professor, Dr. Ulla Neergaard:

Til toppen Economic and Monetary Union – Economic Governance

The Economic and Monetary Union is of essential importance in Europe, but it is continuously questioned as well as threatened. The concept of economic governance was therefore unsurprisingly given central importance in the Conclusions of the European Council arising from its summit on 18-19 February 2016 regarding a new settlement for the UK in a reformed European Union (in connection with the In/Out referendum in the UK (“Brexit”)) as it among others was felt necessary to state: “In order to fulfil the Treaties' objective to establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro, further deepening is needed. Measures, the purpose of which is to further deepen economic and monetary union, will be voluntary for Member States whose currency is not the euro and will be open to their participation wherever feasible. This is without prejudice to the fact that Member States whose currency is not the euro, other than those without an obligation to adopt the euro or exempted from it, are committed under the Treaties to make progress towards fulfilling the conditions necessary for the adoption of the single currency.”

The headline is intended wide as many different suggestions for research proposals are welcomed. These could for example concern areas of the social dimension of the Eurozone, the consequences of a multi-speed EU, the constitutional consequences in Member States of European economic governance, the role of the CJEU in the shaping of the economic governance, the crisis and the transformation of transnational governance, etc.

Contact person: Professor, Dr. Ulla Neergaard: