Call for PhD in Society

The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program on Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) aims to realize excellent research and develop competence on the consequences and challenges of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for humanities and society. One of the instruments of WASP-HS is a PhD program supporting cross-fertilisation and synergy between academic, public and private entities focusing on relevant societal challenges. The program aims to strengthen the position of Swedish industry and public organisations by financing PhD research supporting collaborations between Swedish organisations and universities in research directions within the humanities and social sciences.

This PhD research should target specific problems in an area of applied AI and/or autonomous systems with wide societal implications, where there is currently a mismatch of expertise or competences in humanities or social sciences.

Swedish universities are invited to prepare proposals for a research topic for a PhD position together with Swedish public or private organisations. Proposals can be submitted by researchers affiliated with humanities or social sciences faculties or equivalent. The proposal should specify the expected benefit of the results for the participating organisation.

Further information about the external participants and their (financial) contribution to the project will come soon.


  • The PhD student is employed at the organisations and is expected to pursue postgraduate education for at least 80% fte.
  • Doctoral research projects will be funded jointly by the WASP-HS and an external partner.
  • The hosting organisation must be financially sound and must be able to show it is able to cover its part of the costs.
  • WASP-HS offers a package of a maximum of 2.5 MSEK for a maximum period of 4 years for full time PhD students (the period can be extended to a maximum of 5 years if the student is employed for 80% on the PhD project). This package includes:
    • a maximum of 50% of PhD student salary costs, to be paid to the organisation
    • supervision costs covering a maximum of 10% fte for the PhD academic supervisor(s), to be paid to the university
    • Graduate School costs (500 KSEK)
    • Salary costs include a maximum of 50% LKP and 18.5% overhead.
    • 100 KSEK in total for the duration of the PhD studies to cover extra costs such as travel and material costs, also including 18.5% overhead.
  • The hosting organisation is expected to
    • Assign a co-supervisor, working at the hosting organisation, that can support the student within the organisation
    • cover all other salary costs
    • cover extra costs such as travel and material costs not covered by the 100 KSEK provided by WASP-HS
  • There is an opportunity to apply to WASP-HS for an additional 25% funding for the salary of the PhD student, in the case the external party is a non-profit organization (public organisations or NGO). This requires a special justification describing the reason why the external party is not able to finance its part of the student’s salary as described above.
  • The hosting university guarantees supervision and the required education component.                       


  • WASP-HS issues an open call for proposals in December 2020.
  • Proposals must include:
    • A description of the proposed research project and research methodology
    • A description of how the proposed research contributes to the humanities and/ or social sciences, and to the aims and vision of WASP-HS
    • A description of the societal relevance of the proposed project
    • An account of the proposed project’s relevance for the participating organization(s) including the intended use of the results.
    • A commitment letter from the hosting university signed by dean or equivalent
    • A commitment letter from the participating organization.
    • CVs of the nominees for university supervisor and organization supervisor
    • CV of the proposed candidate for the PhD position (if known)
  • Proposals must be submitted by the academic PI via the registration system of WASP-HS (link)
  • Submission deadline 19 March 2021.
  • The proposals will be evaluated by the Scientific Evaluation Committee of WASP-HS possibly based on external reviews from international experts.
  • Final decision on the proposals is taken by the WASP-HS board.
  • Decision notifications are expected in June 2021.
  • Selected projects can start recruitment procedures directly after announcement of decisions, with the aim to have students appointed by February 2022 to join the 2nd cohort of WASP-HS graduate school.

Evaluation criteria

  • Scientific excellence of the proposal
  • Uniqueness, visionary and novelty nature of the proposal
  • Scientific merits of the participating researchers (supervisors and co-supervisors, and PhD student if known at time of application)
  • Potential to strengthen basic research within humanities or social sciences
  • Potential to contribute to the resolution of societal challenges as defined by the non-academic partners

Rights and obligations

  • Reporting of publications
    • All publications should include acknowledgement to WASP-HS:
      This work was partially supported by the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation
    • All publications must be reported to WASP-HS (possibly through DiVA or similar system)
  • WASP-HS graduate school
    • PhD in Society students are admitted to the WASP-HS graduate school and must participate in the courses and activities offered by the school
  • WASP-HS activities
    • All Researchers financed by WASP-HS are expected, on request, to participate in WASP-HS meetings and to report research results and publications.

Application form: PhD in Society

Note: The application form will be available in January 2021.