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Doing a PhD at RHEA

Are you passionate about research? Do you feel like delving into a particular topic for some years and develop original research that can contribute to theoretical and societal debates? Are you interested in examining how systems of inequality and exclusion are shaped along and across different lines of identity and social categorization, how these impact upon individual experiences, are (re)produced in institutions and policies and how this might possibly be overcome? Then doing a PhD at RHEA might be the thing for you!

Doing a PhD not only allows you to develop and refine your academic research skills – like writing, presenting, collecting and analyzing data – you will also learn how to work in an internationally oriented environment, develop skills in language and communication, project management, leadership and teamwork. 

Practical issues

Before you can start a PhD, some important practical issues need to be considered:

Inform yourself about the admission requirements and make sure you have the necessary degrees and qualifications needed to pursue a PhD. 

Finding a supervisor: Before you are able to register at a PhD, you need to find a supervisor. This is a professor at RHEA (ZAP-member) who is willing to guide and evaluate your research. You can find the profiles and research interests of professors connected to RHEA under ‘Staff and members’. When contacting a potential RHEA-supervisor, make sure you have already developed a clear idea of the particular topic you would like to study. Present and develop your idea by using the format proposed in the section ‘Writing an application’ below.

Funding: PhDs can be funded through project funding (you become employed in an existing research project), individual scholarships or self-funding. Vacancies at RHEA will be published on our website and Facebook-page. A list of funding options for individual scholarships can be found here

Choosing a topic

RHEA encourages PhD-projects that align with its current research goals and interests. You can scroll through our current research projects for inspiration.

Although our research topics can be clustered along the research lines below and candidates are encouraged to connect their ideas to them, we remain open for new and innovative ideas and are particularly interested in candidates with background or interest in queer theory, critical race theory, migration & religion studies, and/or disability studies:

  • Harmful cultural practices and gender-based violence
  • Equality policies and political representation
  • Intersectionality and feminist theory
  • Gender, religion and secularism
  • Bio-ethics and sexual and reproductive rights
  • Migration, anti-discrimination policies and citizenship
  • Post-colonial theory, (de)colonialityand epistemic diversity
  • Gender, diversity and education
  • Agency, identity and subjectivity

Writing an application

When approaching a potential promotor, make sure you can convince them of your idea by presenting a well-developed project idea, supported by relevant academic literature, explaining the research methods you’d like to use and containing a provisional planning. A well-developed research proposal will not only be useful in convincing a RHEA-professor to support you, it will form an indispensable basis in your search for funding, for example at FWO. 

Therefore, we encourage candidates to provide a provisional research proposal of 3 to 5 pages containing the following elements:

  • Indicate the state of the art: Describe the objectives and general research questions, why this research is important to the field, how it contributes to current theoretical and societal discussions, whether and how it is specifically unconventional and challenging.
  • Describe the methodology of your research: Describe and motivate which research methods are best suited for your project.
  • Provide a work plan, i.e. the different work packages and a detailed timetable: Describe the different envisaged steps in your research, including intermediate goals. Indicate how you will handle unforeseen circumstances, intermediate results and risks. You might already describe the different work packages (WP) the proposed research work will be divided in. You might use a table or another type of scheme to clarify the work plan.
  • Include a list of bibliographical references that are relevant for your research proposal.
  • If applicable, include (references to) your publications.

You can send this application, together with your CV and a motivation letter, to a potential supervisor of your choice or, if you are not sure yet who to address, you can send it to rhea@vub.be. Your proposal will then be discussed within our core team and you will be notified if one of our members is interested in supporting your project.