Clearing 2021
Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Competition and Competitiveness

Race starting line


Title: Competition and Competitiveness

Funding: Your PhD fees will be covered and the studentship provides you with a stipend of £15,609 per year.

Application deadline: 6 September 2021

Start date: January 2022 (October 2021 may be possible)

Duration: 3 years

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: Competition and Competitiveness Project, School of Philosophy and Art History


We are looking for a PhD student in Philosophy to join our interdisciplinary team. Our research looks at different forms of competition and competitiveness, for example, in the economy, in education, and in sports. We try to understand how these forms of competition differ from one another, and whether we can improve competitive social institutions by changing how competition works in them.  

We are a friendly, small research team consisting of two philosophers, an economist, a historian, and a project administrator. We meet regularly in term and take knowledge exchange between disciplines and learning from each other very seriously. This is a unique opportunity to undertake PhD research in a collaborative environment, where you will be able to work closely with people from different disciplines who have similar interests.

You will work on an independent topic related to the research of the project. You will have expertise in some relevant areas of philosophy (including social and political philosophy, ethics, philosophy and economics), will conduct research related to them and support the other members of the research team with your expertise. You will take part in regular team meetings and collaborate on the planning of workshops and other activities. You will also contribute to outreach and impact activities as appropriate.

Possible research topics include:

  • the role of competition in specific moral or political theories
  • competition in the history of philosophy (e.g., in a specific philosopher or tradition of philosophy)
  • competition or competitiveness in sport; competitiveness as a disposition or character trait

The Competition and Competitiveness Project is based in the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex. It is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award and will run for four years. The research team currently consists of Professor Timo Jütten (Philosophy), who is the Principal Investigator, three Senior Research Officers (postdocs) in Philosophy, History and Economics, and a Project Administrator. 

The overall aim of this project is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the different forms of competition and competitiveness and the role they play in a wide range of social practices and institutions (markets, science, sports). We think that competition and competitiveness are poorly understood but rarely submitted to detailed analysis. We hope to change the conversation in (political) philosophy, and to make a more realistic conception of human nature and social processes the basis of normative arguments and offering a nuanced view of when competition is appropriate.

We take an interdisciplinary approach with Workstreams on Historical Sources, Social Scientific Insights and Philosophical Analysis. Research in Philosophy includes studies in the history of philosophy (e.g., on how philosophers like Hobbes, Rousseau or J.S. Mill have conceptualised competition) as well as conceptual and normative work on competition and related topics.


Funding available

The studentship award covers your University of Essex fees and provides you with a stipend of £15,609 per year.

You will also have access to the University’s Proficio funds for research training and be able to apply for additional research funding available through the Competition and Competitiveness Project.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must meet the entry criteria for PGR students in the School of Philosophy and Art History. In general, they should have a good first degree (2.i or higher) and MA in Philosophy or a closely related subject.

In addition, applicants should have knowledge in one or more of the following areas: social and political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of economics, philosophy of law, philosophy of social science. 

How to apply

Please send the following documents to

  • A Letter of motivation (maximum two pages), outlining your interest in the Project and your suitability for it
  • A current CV
  • A research proposal (maximum 2,000 words), describing the PhD project that you would like to pursue.

If you have any questions about applying, please email Please note that this an expression of interest stage and not a full application.

Closing date: the application documentation should be submitted by the deadline of 6 September 2022.

Interview: we will interview shortlisted applicants via Zoom.

You do not have to apply formally for admission to the University of Essex as a part of this process. The successful applicant must apply after selection.

Application deadlines

Deadline to submit studentship application: 6 September 2021

Likely interview date (for shortlisted applicants): Week beginning 13 September 2021

Deadline to accept or decline an offer: 27 September 2021

The proposed start date is January 2022. A start in October 2021 may also be possible.

Informal enquiries
Informal enquiries
Professor Timo Jütten