Makerere University International Fully-Funded PhD Positionsin Uganda

  • PHD
  • UGX 40,150,00 or USD 11,000 per annum
  • 4 September 2020

With funding from the Danish Development Research Council, the College of Humanities and Social Sciencesis inviting applications from well-qualified students for two interdisciplinary PhD positions as part of the Uganda country component of a cross-country collaborative research programme entitled Certifications of Citizenship in Africa (CERTIZENS). This is a collaboration between the Department of Development Studies at Makerere University, the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, and the Centre of African Studies at the University of Copenhagen.

CERTIZENS is an interdisciplinary, multi-layered research project, which explores the complexities of regimes of citizen certification and the forms of identification these generate, circulate, manage and attempt to control, in selected African settings. Formal identification of various kinds of citizen certification is a prerequisite for ensuring basic rights and accessing public and private services such as health, education, jobs, security and justice. Yet there is extensive under-documentation across the African continent, with debilitating consequences for millions, although in some cases people find or create informal or illicit ways around this. Uganda and Ghana have been selected as comparative cases, in which the significance of both formal and informal certification systems for both states and citizens will be examined. CERTIZENS investigates four inter-linked analytical arenas: national-level legislation, policy and implementation; an intermediate level of the bureaucracies and materialities of certification; an intimate level of differentiated citizens’ positions, meanings, experiences and practices related to various IDs; and at global level, the mobility and adaptations of so-called universal policy models related to ‘identification for development’.

Two specific PhD projects have been identified as part of the CERTIZENS programme in Uganda:

Topic 1: National and bureaucratic systems of certification

This PhD project focuses on two interrelated dimensions: 1) Mapping both historical and contemporary national systems of citizen classification, registration and certification – related, for example, to birth certificates, national IDs, voter identification cards – and their implications for both governing institutions and differentiated citizens. Methodologically, this project would emphasise archival and critical discourse-related research of historical and contemporary policies, legislation, parliamentary debates, political speeches, party manifestos, and public debates. 2) Investigating the everyday work of, and citizens’ encounters with bureaucracies of classification, registration and certification, within the wider national frameworks noted above. Methodologically, this aspect of the project will entail more ethnographic fieldwork (including participant observation and in-depth interviews) within and around selected bureaucracies.

Topic 2: Intimacies of identification and lived citizenship

This PhD project focuses on the intimate dimension of differentiated citizens’ access to, experiences with and uses of different kinds of formal identity documents (such as birth certificates, national IDs, passports, voter identification cards, and so on), as well as their engagements with informal or illicit systems of self-certification (such as faking or borrowing documents). It will investigate the respective implications of such experiences and practices for lived citizenship and personhood. Methodologically, it will entail detailed ethnographies of selected groups of citizens, including detailed life histories, go-along methods, and participant observation.

Applicants are asked to consider these PhD projects when making the application.

While registered at Makerere University and following the usual PhD education, the two successful PhD candidates will be part of a cohort of five PhDs internationally, as well as several senior scholars, who are all part of the larger CERTIZENS research programme.

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Makerere University

Makerere University, Kampala is Uganda's largest and oldest institution of higher learning, first established as a technical school in 1922.

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Applicants should be able to demonstrate education and independent research experience within a relevant academic discipline such as African studies, anthropology, development studies, history, human geography, politics. The applicant should have excellent oral and written communication skills in English, as well as strong interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

In addition applicants must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Be a national of an African country (proven through the biodata page of a passport of national ID card)
  • Hold a relevant Masters degree from a recognised university, completed not more than ten years prior to this application
  • Show proof of fluency in English
  • Proof of availability to undertake a full-time PhD for four years as from 1 January 2021
  • Be under the age of 40 years by 31 December 2020.

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The programme is fully-funded by the Danish Development Research Council, and is tenable at Makerere University. The scholarship will cover all costs of the PhD programme, including tuition and other university fees, living expenses, medical insurance, research and travel for fieldwork and conferences. The maximum value of the scholarship, commencing 1 January 2021 is approximately UGX 40,150,00 or USD 11,000 per year. Each fellow will receive a laptop computer.


Applications are made online through the electronic application form found at: Click on ‘Admissions’ then ‘Online applications’. To access the form, you will need to create an account if you do not already have one, and then use the email address and password from your account.

The applications should include the following:

  • A brief motivation letter, addressed to: The Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University, P.O BOX 7062 Kampala
  • A research proposal of maximum four pages, related to only one of the two PhD topics outlined. This ought to include a brief outline of the envisaged project, and how it might be approached theoretically and methodologically.
  • A recently updated CV
  • Letters from two academic referees familiar with the applicant’s work. (It is important that these referees are the same as those mentioned on the application form.)
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