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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.

Ax:son Johnson PhD Studentships

The Ax:son Johnson Institute for Statecraft and Diplomacy: three Fully-Funded PhD Scholarships by the Centre for Geopolitics and intake at the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge for October 2022. 

Thanks to the support of the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit in Stockholm, three fully-funded PhD scholarships for students studying for a PhD at the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge will be available for a period of up to three years from Michaelmas Term 2022. The scholarships are open to qualified applicants from any country. 

We welcome applications from candidates working on all aspects of historical and contemporary geopolitics, but preference may be given to those researching in areas of particular interest to the Centre for Geopolitics. These include the Geopolitics of the Baltic, the Indo-Pacific, and peace-making in the Middle East. 

An Ax:son Johnson Institute for Statecraft and Diplomacy PhD Scholarship covers the following costs: 

  • the University Composition Fee at the appropriate rate for three years 
  • a maintenance allowance (living costs) of £15,609 per year for three years 

Successful applicants will undertake their research project at the University of Cambridge, where they will be based at POLIS and the Centre for Geopolitics. This is an exciting opportunity to join the newly formed Ax:son Johnson Institute for Statecraft and Diplomacy (AJI) which is a transatlantic consortium among four universities: the Centre for Grand Strategy at King’s College London, the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Center for Statecraft and Political Communication at the Stockholm School of Economics, and the Centre for Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge. PhD students will have the opportunity to network with these universities as part of the programme and AJI’s dedication to supporting and mentoring the next generation of historically-minded scholars and practitioners in statecraft, strategy, and diplomacy. Together, we will develop novel training, publishing opportunities, and collaborative approaches that will enrich our intellectual communities and strengthen our collective ability to address pressing international problems. Planned are visits to the Foundations headquarters in Sweden and the UK to welcome and connect a joined cohort of young scholars working together over the course of their research. 

Applicants for a PhD at POLIS should indicate that they wish to be considered for the scholarship in their research proposal when completing an application to study at Cambridge or contact their supervisor directly to discuss the relevance of their topic to this fund. However, they will have to be nominated for the studentship by their supervisor

“The Ax:son Johnson Institute for Statecraft and Diplomacy grant is a game-changer for the Centre of Geopolitics here at Cambridge. This generous donation, especially the support for PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, will enable us to ensure that there is a steady pipeline of younger scholars coming through, working on subjects which have long been relatively neglected by the academy. Particularly welcome is the collaboration with distinguished colleagues in the UK, US and Sweden whose expertise complements our own.” - Brendan Simms, Director of the Centre for Geopolitics and Professor of the History of International Relations 

For further detail see the Postgraduate Funding site (Ax:son Johnson PhD studentships - Postgraduate Funding Search (


Research Assistants

The Centre offers 'Ax:son Johnson Research Assistantships in Applied History' on a rolling basis, for PhD candidates at the University of Cambridge. The positions are tenable for 9 months from appointment or to the award of the PhD, whichever is sooner. They are paid through the TES scheme at Grade 5 equivalent, normally 3-5 hours per week, £14 per hour. Depending on the nature of the work, agreed expenses may be payable.

The appointees will support, intellectually and organisationally, the work of the centre. Organisational responsibilities will include organising and overseeing events and initiatives, managing and liaising with various stakeholders including speakers, special guests, and invitees; advertising and social media; writing summaries for the website and budget reporting on events. Previous Research Assistants report that the experience gained equipped them with valuable new skills and contacts for the next step in their career.

Applicants should send a CV, short letter of recommendation from their supervisor, and a one-page cover letter that addresses their interest in the field of Applied History and relevant experience in event planning or advertising to Michelle Houghton, Deputy Administrator,

Applications are normally accepted on a rolling basis.