Psychology OppAttune Full-time PhD Studentship – Everyday Extremism.

Unit :  Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS)
Salary :  Stipend £17,668 per annum for 3 years & tuition fees covered
Location :  Milton Keynes
Please quote reference :  FASS/PHDSTUDENTSHIP
Closing Date :  20 June, 2023 – 17:00

Democracies and the European project are under threat by extremism and lack of political and social dialogue. Existential insecurities arising out of economic and refugee-related crises have been exacerbated by Covid-19 to create re-bordering e.g., xenophobic-nationalism and re-shoring e.g., the localisation of production. Oppositional worldviews, narratives and dissensus within public debate are all vital to a functioning democracy. However destructive polarisation of oppositional us/them logic is at the core of the rise of extremist narratives. Disruptive actors polarise oppositional logic using disinformation, emotions, hot cognitions, conspiracy theories and mistrust to create new forms of direct action. This direct action is understood to many as direct democracy. This direct action cultivates unlikely coalitions creating attractive alternative on-line/off-line worlds which spread extreme narratives into the mainstream via deep rooted sociological and historical pathways. OppAttune is a new Horizon-Europe project that will track, attune and limit extreme narratives to foreground EU transnational freedoms and multilateralism. Specifically, it will track the evolution of oppositional extreme ideologies and protectionist decision-making, develop an innovative attunement model and tests a series of interventions at the national and transnational levels which limit the spread of extremism. OppAttune revitalises trust in key democratic institutions, promoting transnational freedoms and multilateralism.  

The PhD will examine (i) the influence of identifications and narratives on the evolution of everyday extremism (ii) the factors which influence political decision-making amongst citizens and publics when engaged in political dialogue within Europe and beyond. This innovative PhD studentship will involve the creation of a set of films as well as contributing findings and analysis to the building of an Attunement Model. It will require significant public-facing work as well as knowledge of the wider social landscape regarding social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram & TikTok, etc.).

The PhD is supervised by Professor Kesi Mahendran (Open University) and Dr Evangelos Ntontis (Open University).

For pre-submission enquiries, prospective applicants may write to Professor Kesi Mahendran ( and Dr Evangelos Ntontis (

Applying for the studentship

The studentship is for 3 years full-time. It is fully funded by Innovate UK Horizon Guarantee, as a part of this Horizon-Europe Project. The studentship is open to all students within the UK and international with a BSc in Psychology or cognate discipline, 2:1 or equivalent and an MSc in Psychology or a cognate discipline.

Closing date:  20th June 2023.  Interviews are expected to take place 26th June 2023

Application forms are available from MPhil and PhD Application | Research | Open University

For detailed information and how to apply go to

Please see the links below for the full criteria for eligibility and funding support.

 further particulars

Completed application forms, together with a Research Proposal and a covering letter indicating your suitability and reasons for applying must be sent to