Call for PhD in Society

This call is closed, see our open calls.

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 WASP-HS instruments 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 the PhD research supporting collaborations between Swedish organisations and universities in research directions in the humanities and social sciences.

This PhD research should target specific problems in an area of application of 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.

WASP-HS foresees two possible scenarios for the employment of the PhD student:

  1. The external partner has an employee that is a suitable a candidate for PhDs in society.
    The external partner will be reimbursed a lump sum of maximum 400 KSEK per year on requisition towards the salary costs of the PhD student.
    The external partner will report their co-financing to the program by declaring their actual costs incurred that are not covered by the grant yearly. This declaration must be done yearly when the request for the lump sum is made.
  2. The PhDs in society candidate is a person not yet employed by the external partner.
    If the project chooses to employ the PhD student at the university, the university will be reimbursed a maximum of 50% of PhD salary costs based on actual costs.

For information about other declarable costs, see the conditions below.

The arrangements between the external partner and the university, concerning all other costs not covered by WASP-HS need to be fixed in a contract between both, a copy of which should be sent to WASP-HS. The external partner must also report in-kind costs yearly to WASP-HS program office.


  • The PhD student is to pursue postgraduate education for at least 80% FTE. In most cases, it is expected that the PhD student will be a person already employed by the external organisation. In the cases a new person is to be employed, it can be considered to be employed by the university. In both cases, the participation and expected benefits to the external organisation must be clear and explicit in the proposal.
  • Doctoral research projects will be funded jointly by the WASP-HS and an external partner and a university.
  • 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 2.5MSEK for a maximum period of 4 years for fulltime 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
      • in case the PhD student is employed by the university, WASP-HS will upon requisition, reimburse actual eligible costs to the university
      • in case the PhD student is employed by the external organisation, WASP-HS will upon requisition, reimburse a yearly lump sum of maximum 400KSEK to the employing organisation.
    • supervision costs covering a total maximum of 10% full time equivalent for the PhD academic supervisor(s), to be paid to the university
    • Graduate School costs (500KSEK)
    • Salary costs include a maximum of 50% LKP
    • 100 KSEK in total for the duration of the PhD studies to cover extra costs by the PhD student, such as travel and material costs, including premises and indirect costs.
    •  A maximum of 3,5% of eligible direct costs to cover premises costs and a maximum of 15% of eligible direct costs to cover indirect costs (overhead).
  • The external partner as 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
  • When the university partner is the hosting organisation the external partner should pay their share of the budgeted salary costs and travel to the university partner. The partners must draw up an agreement for this.
  • 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 on how the proposed research contributed 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 usage of the results.
    • A commitment letter from the hosting university signed by dean or equivalent
    • A commitment letter of 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 (
  • Submission deadline is 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 with 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

This call is closed, see our open calls.

Download, fill in and attach as a pdf in the form below:
WASP-HS PhDs in Society Commitment letter

Download, fill in and attach as a pdf in the form below:
WASP-HS PhDs in Society Proposal document

This call is closed.

Call for PhD in Society


(Information about other project participants can be detailed in the proposal document)
Typically the PI will be the main supervisor of the PhD students


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