Law: Fully Funded UKRI PHD Scholarship: TRUE: Trust in User-Generated Evidence

  • PHD
  • £17,668
  • 14 April 2023

Law: Fully Funded UKRI PHD Scholarship: TRUE: Trust in User-Generated Evidence

TRUE is a five-year research project originally selected for funding by the European Research Council (Starting Grant no. 101040463), which will now be funded by a UKRI Frontier Research guarantee grant, in light of the UK’s non-association to the Horizon Europe programme. Through an innovative interdisciplinary methodology combining legal analysis of trials, large online experiments, and mock jury trials, TRUE will develop the first systematic account of trust in user-generated evidence (such as photos and videos recorded by witnesses on their mobile phones), in the specific context of its use in human rights accountability processes.

We are seeking to appoint a PhD student to collaborate on one of the key strands of this project, which will focus on investigating how domestic and international courts have approached user-generated evidence in prosecuting atrocity crimes and pursuing accountability for human rights violations. There is considerable scope for the successful candidate to shape their own research agenda within the parameters of the broader project and its research objectives, which are to:

  1. Analyse public awareness of deepfakes and how perceptions of deepfakes impact upon the perceived trustworthiness of user-generated evidence;
  2. Create and validate a scale of trustworthiness for user-generated evidence, identifying the factors that feed into the perceived credibility, reliability and probative value of that evidence and comparing it to other types of evidence from both lay and professional fact-finders’ perspectives;
  3. Test the scale of trustworthiness through online and offline experiments with lay and professional factfinders, including through jury simulations;
  4. Examine the extent to which ‘plausible deniability’ arguments, allegations of deepfakes and narratives of (mis)trust have appeared in cases using user-generated evidence to prove mass human rights violations;
  5. Critically assess the likely future role of user-generated evidence in this context, and what steps can be taken to preserve the utility of genuine, reliable, user-generated evidence for future human rights accountability processes.

The successful candidate may wish to: focus on a particular jurisdiction or set of jurisdictions in examining the incorporation of user-generated evidence; avail of argumentation mapping techniques to examine the extent to which ‘plausible deniability’ arguments or allegations of deepfakes appeared in relevant cases, and/or to interview judges, lawyers, investigators, or other actors within the parameters of their project.

We invite interested individuals with a good undergraduate degree and Masters degree in Law or a closely aligned discipline (e.g., Social Sciences) to apply for this fully-funded PhD position.

Applicants should include a 500-word research proposal, setting out a sample research question (within the scope of the TRUE project) and the methods they would use to answer this research question.


Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), with no failed modules at undergraduate level, and a master’s degree with an overall grade of ‘merit’.

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This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £17,668 (UKRI rate).

Additional research expenses will also be available.


Please see our website for more information.

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