The Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews (UK) is advertising 2 PhD scholarships (4 years, full time, 100% UK/EU fee waiver with maintenance stipend of approx. £14,296/year (equivalent to a RCUK stipend) and conference/research expenses) to participate in an ERC-funded research project on the ethics of oil. The start date is September 2017.

Deadline for application: 16 January 2017 at midnight GMT


This project entitled “The Ethics of Oil: Finance Moralities and Environmental Politics in the Global Oil Economy (ENERGYETHICS)” offers an exciting opportunity for 2 outstanding graduates to join a major anthropological research project funded by the European Research Council – as part of the conventional track for a PhD in Social Anthropology at University of St Andrews.  The project is a comparative study of how people in positions of influence within the global oil economy make financial and ethical valuations of oil. Ethnographic fieldwork will be carried out with oil companies in the US and Norway, energy analysts in the UK and the US, and fossil fuel divestment movements in Germany and the UK. Taking our starting point in people’s own perceptions of and direct involvement in the oil economy, we aim to understand the relationship between oil, money and climate change. We will ask: What is the value of oil? How do such valuations, understood as both financial and ethical, intersect and inform the making of the global energy economy in oil? To what extent can oil be an important industrial resource, a profit-yielding investment opportunity and an undesired pollutant that brings about irreversible climate impacts?


We are seeking prospective candidates with an existing interest in fields such as economic life, morality and ethics, energy and climate change, corporations and organisations. Applicants are encouraged to contribute their own provisional research ideas in the form of a proposal as part of their application. Projects will have ethnographic fieldwork at their core, but may also draw on other methodologies, including archival and visual media work.


Successful candidate 1 will explore convergences of oil production with national welfare agendas and climate change concerns in Norway. The research will involve 15 months of fieldwork and the candidate must be able to/willing to learn Norwegian.

Successful candidate 2 will examine how divestment projects in Germany and the UK intersect with oil industry vulnerability and visions for the future. The research will involve 15 months of fieldwork and the candidate must be able to/willing to learn German.



The successful candidates must hold a good degree in Anthropology, or related field. They should have strong communication and organisational skills with a passionate interest in carrying out ethnographic research on issues related to oil. They should be willing to work in a team and contribute to public events, publications and limited teaching alongside their individual projects.



Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact the Principal Investigator Dr Mette M. High at [email protected] for further information about the project in advance of submitting applications.

Applications must be submitted electronically to [email protected] by 16 January 2017 with the message title “PhD Scholarship application 1” for the project on oil production in Norway or the message title “PhD Scholarship application 2” for the project on the divestment from fossil fuel movements in the UK and Germany. The following documents must be attached to the email in 3 separate PDF files:

  • A research proposal that explains how they would carry out the PhD project on either oil production in Norway or divestment movements in the UK and Germany. The proposal will include information on methodological strategies, possible theoretical developments and relevant literature (maximum 3000 words).
  • A full curriculum vitae with detailed information on degree results and language skills, with the names and contact details of 2 referees available to be contacted.
  • A writing sample (e.g. essay or MA thesis chapter) showing the applicant’s ability to use ethnographic methods and/or to theorise anthropologically (maximum 10,000 words).

Short-listed candidates will be interviewed in person at University of St Andrews or remotely via Skype in early February 2017 and results will be notified by mid-February.

Successful candidates will be expected to start in September 2017.


For more information, please contact the Principal Investigator Dr Mette M. High, [email protected]