UCL European Institute


FCO Policy Unit – PhD Student placements

7 November 2019

2 PhD student placements are available in the FCO Policy Unit.

What is the FCO Policy Unit?

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Policy Unit sits within the Strategy Directorate, reporting directly to the Permanent Under Secretary and the Foreign Secretary. Its purpose is to improve FCO policy through bringing new perspectives, long term thinking and challenge to policy making, helping set overarching strategy and priorities and enhancing the organisation’s policy capability.

What are the PhD student placements?

The Policy Unit is looking for two PhD students in subjects relevant to foreign policy (e.g. International Relations, Political Science, Behavioural Science, Social Anthropology etc.) to undertake placements of three months full time or six months part time within the Unit. Placements will focus on policy planning and role holders would tackle one or two discrete projects looking at long-term, cross-cutting or unorthodox questions that Policy Unit assesses to be important to UK foreign policy. Projects vary but usually involve background research, convening FCO and other Government stakeholders together with external experts, developing innovative policy options and presenting them to a senior policy audience. The role-holders will be expected to take individual responsibility for their projects, with support and guidance from the rest of Policy Unit, and will have access to HMG expertise in the UK and in the FCO’s network of overseas posts.

Whether full or part time there will be an expectation of a minimum of two days per week physically in the FCO’s London office. The start date is flexible but March 2020 is preferred, subject to the need to apply for and obtain security clearance.

How to apply

Interested PhD students should contact Thomas Codrington (Thomas.Codrington@fco.gov.uk) by 19 November 2019 for details of how to apply ahead of a bidding deadline of 10 December 2019.


Applicants must be academics or PhD students at UK Higher Education Institutions. Salary/grant costs are to be funded by the relevant HEI(s) and/or by awards from UK based academic research funding bodies

Security clearance will be necessary in order to enable academics and students to engage with a range of staff and material from across the FCO and to have access to deskspace in the FCO main building in London. UK nationality is not essential but candidates need to have a minimum of two years’ residence, including 12 months of continuous residence, in the UK over the preceding ten years.

The successful applicants will need to agree to exercise care in the use of information which may be acquired in the course of official duties, will be obliged to respect the provisions of the Official Secrets Act and to observe the duties of propriety and confidentiality during and after the project and will be required to sign an agreement to this effect. Clearly academics may want to publish results in scholarly journals and the scope for doing so within the parameters of the Official Secrets Act and the FCO’s sensitivity review process will be discussed before the cooperation starts.