PhD position in Political Science – How information and institutions affect political behavior: Applying AI technology to the study of political data

Karlstad University / Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Application deadline:
18 February, 2020


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Karlstad University advertises a PhD position in Political Science, specifically connected to the project ”Bias and methods of AI technology studying political behavior”. The overall focus of the project is how and when different types of information, for instance from politicians, opinion polls, and social networks, influence the decision-making of individuals in various political contexts. The project will develop new methods and use artificial intelligence to explore this question. The project is managed by Annika Fredén, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, in collaboration with Moa Johansson, Associate Professor at Chalmers University of Technology. As part of the same project, Chalmers will also advertise a PhD position in Computer Science.

This PhD position is part of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program on Humanities and Society (WASP-HS). WASP-HS aims to realize excellent research and develop competence on the consequences and challenges of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for the individual person and society. This 10-year program is initiated and generously funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (MMW) with 660 million SEK. In addition to this, the program receives support from collaborating industry and from participating universities.

WASP-HS includes an extensive national graduate school with up to 70 doctoral students, the creation of least ten new research groups across Sweden, support for twelve visiting professors to strengthen Swedish research and networking activities, and a number of research projects. For more information about the research and other activities conducted within WASP-HS, please visit

The WASP-HS graduate school provides foundations, perspectives, and state-of-the-art knowledge in the different disciplines taught by leading researchers in the field. Through an ambitious program with research visits, partner universities, and visiting lecturers, the graduate school actively supports forming a strong multi-disciplinary and international professional network between PhD students, researchers and practitioners in the field. It thus provides added value on top of the existing PhD programs at the partner universities, providing unique opportunities for students who are dedicated to achieving international research excellence with societal relevance.

A doctoral position in Political Science

Social media and text data have become an increasingly important part of societal development, and political behavior is influenced and determined more and more by it. The aim of the doctoral project ”How information and institutions affect political (bias) in political behavior. The approach is also experimental, and we will use small-scale experiment in the laboratory as well as more extensive survey experiments in established internet panels.

During the first year and in consultation with the supervisor, the doctoral student develops a subject for his or her thesis which is related to a specific area of interest within this general focus. Possible specialisations include the following:

Targeted information in the interplay between politicians and voters.
How can the presence and dissemination of different types of information, for instance coalition signals and local opinion polls, affect the ways in which citizens form opinions?

The image of (competent) political systems and leaders.
Today’s political campaigns are characterised to an ever greater extent by local opinion-formers and people following a certain channel of information, often online. In this landscape, it appears as though leaders and their statements have acquired a more decisive significance. How does this environment affect the image and impression of political systems and leadership among the citizens? Does it matter what measuring instruments and concepts are used when citizens assess and evaluate leaders and political systems?

Financial risk-taking and political behaviour.
Personal and/or public assets may influence political decision-making in different ways. One potential consequence concerns the degree to which individuals are willing to take risks in relation to political decisions, for example when electing a new leader or abandoning one party for another. How do political decision-makers perceive risk in relation to financial assets? How can financial-political risk-taking be measured and modelled through scales, experiments, and algorithms?


For admission to doctoral studies, applicants must meet the requirements of both general and specific eligibility and have the ability to benefit from the programme (Higher Education Ordinance, Ch. 7 sect. 35).

General eligibility for admission requires a second-cycle qualification (MA) of at least 240 ECTS credits, including at least 60 ECTS credits at second-cycle (MA) level, or largely equivalent knowledge acquired in Sweden or abroad. The University may allow an exception from this requirement for an individual applicant if there are special reasons (Higher Education Ordinance, Ch. 7 sect. 39).

Specific eligibility requirements for doctoral studies in political science include a second-cycle qualification (MA) in political science, consisting of at least 120 ECTS credits of completed courses within the main subject of Political Science, out of which at least 30 ECTS credits must be at second-cycle (MA) level and at least 15 ECTS credits must concern an independent project (degree project). The political science courses may be completed as subject courses or as part of other courses of study, such as political economy or psychology. The specific eligibility requirements are also fulfilled by those who have otherwise acquired largely equivalent knowledge as stated above, in Sweden or abroad, for instance through study of interdisciplinary themes, political economy, media and communication studies, psychology, sociology, or similar.

Admission procedure

Admission is based on individual assessment of the applicant’s capacity to complete a programme at doctoral level successfully. The applicant’s grades from previous studies and the quality of previous independent research papers, especially at second-cycle level, are assessed for this purpose. In addition, we assess the research plan, where the applicant gives an account of his or her proposed thesis project and its relevance for the project and WASP-HS, the level of language proficiency, and the applicant’s preparedness to be an active member of the research environment. The applicant is also expected to possess strong social skills and be able to work both independently and in teams.

We especially welcome applicants with a Degree of Master in political science, a very substantial knowledge of and interest in quantitative methods, and an interest in political behaviour and experiment. We value initiative and the ability to work independently, in combination with curiosity in relation to learning more about computer science and entering into collaboration with other subjects.

More information about doctoral studies:

More information about the subject Political Science:


The appointment will be confirmed following the required decisions.


The application should be made electronically (see below) and include:

  • CV (with certified copies of grades, degree certificates, etc.)
  • Copies of degree projects and other publications
  • A cover letter where the applicant presents him- or herself and his or her research interests
  • A research proposal (approximately 5 pages) and a summary in English (approximately 500 words)
  • Any other documents that the applicant wishes to refer to
  • Contact information for references (a maximum of three), or letters of recommendation (a maximum of three)

HR Excellence in Research
Karlstad University received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research award September 2020. The award is issued to employers with a stimulating work environment and good conditions for researchers and it’s continuous improvement. The award also conveys the university’s commitment to fair and transparent recruitment as well as favourable professional development for researchers. Read more: