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Job ID: 205154

Postdoctoral position in Extended Nuclear Deterrence During the Cold War /ERC RITUAL DETERRENCE
University of Copenhagen

Date Posted Feb. 7, 2023
Title Postdoctoral position in Extended Nuclear Deterrence During the Cold War /ERC RITUAL DETERRENCE
University University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark
Department Department of Political Science
Application Deadline Apr. 2, 2023
Position Start Date September 2023
  • Post-Doc
  • Political Science - International
    Political Science - General
    International Relations/Foreign Service

The Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), invites excellent and highly motivated candidates for a postdoctoral position in extended nuclear deterrence during the Cold War. The position is part of the European Research Council Consolidator Grant project “Ritual Action: Making Deterrence Matter in International Security and Memory Politics” (RITUAL DETERRENCE; PI: Dr Maria Mälksoo).

The position is for 4 years, to be filled as soon as possible, and no later than 1 September 2023.

The Department is a top-ranked European Political Science department, which offers a vibrant, collegial and pluralist academic working environment for ambitious scholars. The pluralism of Political Science in Copenhagen is evidenced in the various epistemological and methodological approaches and sub-fields adopted by faculty, as well as in a wide range of core subjects in the MSc programme.

The Department consists of more than 70 faculty staff, of which one fourth are international, and some 25 PhD students. For more on the Department, see:

The Department has appr. 2000 students across its study programmes and welcomes annually some 200 exchange and guest students from abroad. For more on the Department’s study programmes, see:

The Project
RITUAL DETERRENCE explores the role of ritual action in making deterrence effective and credible in international security politics between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War and in various contemporary contexts (NATO-Russia, US-Russia, US-China relations). The project combines a variety of qualitative methods (participant observation, interviews, discourse analysis), generating new knowledge about how deterrence is made to matter in international politics, and what deterrence does politically for the communities that practice it. We work at the intersection of International Relations, Critical Security Studies, Social Theory and Anthropology with an aim to offer a novel framework for the study of deterrence in military, political-diplomatic and legislative conflict management contexts through a range of contemporary and historical case studies. The Postdoc will contribute to the project by theorizing and analyzing the evolution of the strategy and rituals of extended nuclear deterrence in NATO and the Warsaw Pact relations during the Cold War.

RITUAL DETERRENCE research team is based at the Centre for Military Studies (CMS) of the Department of Political Science, UCPH. CMS is a university research centre focusing on research in defence, security, and strategic studies and working closely with the Danish Ministry of Defence, the Danish Armed Forces and other national and international stakeholders. As a fully integrated part of the Department of Political Science, the Centre takes part in teaching and research activities at the Department. For more information, please consult our webpages:  and

Duties and Responsibilities
The Postdoc is expected to:

  • Conduct independent research in the context of RITUAL DETERRENCE, including the implementation of the historical case study on the evolution of the strategy and rituals of extended nuclear deterrence in NATO and the Warsaw Pact relations during the Cold War (1949-1990)
  • Engage in and participate actively in the development of RITUAL DETERRENCE and its academic activities, including collaborate in refining the project design and methodology and further developing the theoretical framework
  • Collect, code and analyse relevant empirical material (e.g., observations, interviews, official documents)
  • Conduct field research in the USA and selected European capitals (travel money covered by the project)
  • Prepare and participate in joint publications and workshops and help make an impact on the scholarly and public debate on contemporary deterrence
  • Contribute to and benefit from the flourishing intellectual life of the International Relations group and the Department of Political Science more broadly, together with the research culture at the Centre for Military Studies.
  • Carry out administrative and coordination duties associated with the project, including interim reporting to the ERC, co-organisation of thematic workshops and the project website

Your Competencies and Opportunities
The candidate must have obtained a PhD degree in International Relations, International History or Political Science.

The applicants should have proven research experience and academic publications in the area of international relations, international history or political science. Furthermore, the applicants should have expertise in one or several of the following areas:

  • Qualitative methods, such as participant observation, interviews, discourse analysis, archival research
  • Nuclear deterrence, alliances politics in the Cold War, NATO-Soviet/Warsaw Pact relations, strategic studies, wargaming, International Relations and/or Social Theory
  • Excellent command of English. Fluency in Russian is desirable.
  • Considerable weight will be accorded to the ability to conduct independent research, scientific excellence, critical and creative thinking as well as the ability to work across disciplines and be a genuine team-player.
  • Experience from teaching and participation in the international research community, such as organizing workshops, seminars and academic conferences is seen as a merit.

Strategy of the Faculty of the Social Sciences
The Department of Political Science is part of the Faculty of the Social Sciences. The Faculty is a successful academic community that strives to put knowledge into action by:

  • Engaging partners in the co-creation of knowledge, learning and social change.
  • Empowering our students to become reflective and responsible citizens who have the vision, the knowledge and the competences to change society for the better.
  • Energising global, European and Danish communities of knowledge by innovating research methodologies and by research findings with impact

For more on the Faculty strategy, see: You can read the Department’s strategy here

Terms of Employment

The Recruitment Process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, applicants are selected for assessment on the advice of the Appointment Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether an expert committee has passed their application for assessment. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

Further information on the recruitment process at University of Copenhagen can be found here:

An Equal Opportunity Workplace
The University of Copenhagen is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to creating an inclusive working environment and therefore encourages all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of personal background, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity etc. To ensure an inclusive and respectful working environment, the Department has adopted a Code of Conduct, see For more on the diverse working place environment at the University and the University’s participation in the HRS4R HR Excellence in Research, see

International Applicant?
The University of Copenhagen offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including support before and during your relocation and career counselling to expat partners. Please find more information about these services as well as information on entering and working in Denmark here:

Contact Information
Information about the recruitment process is available from HR, please refer to ID number: 211-1206/22-2I.

Additional information about the position can be obtained from Dr Maria Mälksoo, e-mail:, phone +45 35331157

How to Apply
Submit a complete application at our online portal. Click on the “Apply now” icon to apply. The documents must be in Adobe PDF or Word. 

Your application must be written in English and include the following documents:

  • A short motivation letter (maximum 2 pages), including a brief description of the main research areas and methodological competence
  • Curriculum vitae, including education, work/research experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  • A copy of the doctoral (PhD) certificate 
  • A list of publications
  • A maximum number of three scientific works, of which one may be a monograph or compilation thesis
  • A 3 - 5 page research proposal

The closing date for applications is 2 April 2023 23:59 CET.

Applications or enclosures received thereafter will not be considered.

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

Please reference in your cover letter when
applying for or inquiring about this job announcement.

Contact Information

  • Maria Mälksoo
    Department of Political Science
    University of Copenhagen
    Copenhagen, Copenhagen
  • +45 35331157


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