PhD Topics

For 2018 applications CECS is interested in PhD projects within the following areas:

  1. Comparing constitutional developments
  1. Europe’s challenges and opportunities
  1. Global power shifts – which normative impact?

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 Violence, State and Law

Topics related with the concept of violence and how this interacts in terms of legal and political legitimacy and legal realism in constitutional democracies.  The topics will encompass German schools on "Gewalt"  - Carl Schmitt, the Frankfurter Schule (Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno) or even Nietszche and how this interacts with Normativismus (Kelsen). Also the French schools from Derrida to Foucault. It will be particularly interesting if these doctrine is linked to XXI century concept of law, interdependence and globalization.

Contact person: Professor Antoni Abat:

Til toppen The impact of digitalization on democracy

CECS has a special focus on the contemporary challenges to democracy. We are interested in PhD proposals, which analyse how the developments within digitalization, AI, big data etc. challenge democracy. This could for instance be in relation to fake news, populism, out-side interference with elections and referendums, misuse of big-data, democratic rights of AI, etc. We also welcome PhD proposals which (also) analyse possible advantages for democracy of new technologies for instance better inclusion and representation through electronic voting in elections and referendums, popular inclusion in constitutional change through e-tools etc.

Contact person: Professor Helle Krunke:

Til toppen Building Cohesion and Solidarity in Europe

Cohesion and solidarity in the EU has lately been challenged by many factors among them the migration and refugee crisis, the economic and financial crisis, a political crisis, Brexit, populism, possible violations of EU’s democratic and human rights values in some EU member states, social tourism etc. At the same time, new forms of cohesion and solidarity sometimes involving new actors appear in Europe, for instance collaboration among cities on environmental initiatives, initiatives among citizens on a.o. ‘tourism solidarity’ as regards especially popular cities such as Venice and Barcelona, shared economy and exchange of flats through for instance airbnb, private initiatives to help refugees such as ‘venligboerne’, private ecological initiatives, solidarity with other species through an increasing number of vegetarians/vegans etc. Some of these initiatives are followed by regulation. Within the established systems we see international courts such as the ECJ and the ECHR promote solidarity. We invite research projects which analyse and reflect over cohesion and solidarity in Europe in a legal or interdisciplinary perspective. We welcome projects which address new forms of cohesion and solidarity driven by new actors as well as projects which address cohesion and solidarity within the existing institutions and legal frameworks. We are especially interested in how coherence and solidarity in Europe can be built in the future.

Contact:, and

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 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:

Til toppen The Case Law of the CJEU in the Era of Digitalization

This research area invites candidates who may be interested in working with the Court of Justice of the European Union more theoretically but also more specifically on how it has approached and solved cases with a digital element. It could be more specifically on e.g. free movement law in that regard, but also more broadly/horizontally across all areas of law as well as with an evolutionary interest taken. It could be considered how and why a court like the CJEU reacts to severe technological changes and if it reveals any more ideological stances.

Contact person: Professor in EU Law, PhD, Ulla Neergaard:

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 China’s Social Credit System and its impact on law and legal culture in the digital era

China has introduced a national social credit system envisaged to be in place by 2020. The system is algorithmically driven and enabled by massive-scale sharing and automated matching of data, and it is intended to increase ‘trust’ and credibility.  CECS is interested in research projects, which will study this system, its structure as well as elements and instruments of ‘punishment’ and reward, and the overriding values of ‘trustworthiness’. What may the consequences of this large scale surveillance project become for Chinese normative and moral culture, what consequences may it have for a perception of modern legal culture from a European perspective.

Contact person: Professor in legal culture Hanne Petersen:

Til toppen Fake news and propaganda

Most recently, the term ‘fake news’ has prominently featured in the public debate. The social media networks have been amply used as tools for spreading fake news, raising concerns about the impact of such phenomenon on public opinion manipulation and about its broader implications for democracy.  CECS invites PhD proposals that explore the phenomenon of fake news, in particular its relation to state propaganda, with the view of stirring violence in the targeted communities and interfering with democracy.

Contact person: Associate professor Iryna Marchuk: