This page contains information about placements developed with Techne partner organisations for Techne students to apply for. Please note that you need to be within your funded period when the placement begins in order to apply. You can find out more about funding for placements here.
Techne's Partner the British Library, updates it’s placement opportunities regularly,
please follow the link below
The think tank Autonomy is offering exciting opportunities
for Techne doctoral researchers to engage in the world of innovative and
For up to six months, doctoral graduates can work with the
Autonomy team on developing new, ambitious research projects that aim to
produce the policies necessary for our society to mitigate the ‘crisis of work’
that we are currently experiencing. Some indicative research questions that
guide our work are:
How do we deal with automation technologies in the coming
How do work and the climate crisis intersect?
How can we guard against the precarity that comes with the
How do we sediment gender equality into the world of work?
Placements at Autonomy offer an opportunity to garner new
research skills, learn how the policy world operates, help shift the Overton
Window and potentially make public interventions into the debate about the future
of work. You will have the chance to work with our wider research network,
including leading academics and other voices that are at the heart of
contemporary debates (see our website for more details as to who this might
If you are interested in engaging with Autonomy’s
project, then email email@example.com with a short description of your
doctoral research alongside a short paragraph regarding which of Autonomy’s
research strands interest you most (see below) by the deadline of 15th May. We can arrange a meeting and discuss
Autonomy is a radical, independent think tank that
promotes and articulates a world of work that moves beyond precarity, low pay,
overwork, mass unemployment and lack of worker democracy. We want to know what
the future of work might be, but we
also want to articulate what the future of work should be for our societies. We are influenced by heterodox
political economy, including Marxism, but also recognise that work is not
simply an economic terrain, and involves cultural and political elements all
the way down. Unlike most think tanks, we engage with the wider meanings of
‘work’ beyond mere employment.
We put out research papers, policy proposals and other
outputs on a range of work-related topics, to be used by journalists,
activists, unions and political parties. We regularly appear in the news media
as the radical and progressive voice on the future of work, from local radio
stations to the BBC, from Al Jazeera to London’s LBC, from the Guardian to the Daily Mail. Our public presence helps us shift the narrative – and
the political agenda – around work, allowing us to push a narrative of worker
democracy and freedom.
One of Autonomy’s ongoing aims has been to translate
excellent academic work into public interventions into the debate around the
future of work; research with impact. Towards this goal, we have congregated
some of the best minds in the field as part of our research network and advisory
Our main interventions came in 2019, when we published
the largestreport – to our knowledge – in
existence on the topic of working time reduction. Described as a ‘vital
contribution’ by Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, it was widely
endorsed by trade unions, leading labour economists as well as international
voices such as Die Linke’s Katja Kipping.
Our research strands
for 2020, from which placed students are encouraged to select from are as
follows. These strands often intersect and students working on one project will
most likely engage with a number of others during their placement:
2. The Control of Workers and Worker Control
Work intensification and speed up: what is the present
and future of technological tracking, evaluating or speed up in the modern
How does workplace discipline get actualised, who
commands this discipline and what concrete effects do they have on workers?
Conversely, we also want to explore possibilities of
worker control and/or resistance.
How can decision-making around labour-saving technology
involve workers on a practical basis?
2. A Welfare State for the 21st Century
Our current welfare system is outdated, disciplinary and
falling apart at the seems. Universal Credit has been shown to be a failure,
even on the government’s own assessment. We need to design a better system.
Do we need a basic income, rather than means-tested
What would new welfare spaces look like? What is the
Job Centre after the Job Centre?
3. Our Automated Future: the future of technology and its potential for freedom
The future will be automated, but who will that benefit?
Policy needs to be in place to make sure the gains from advanced technologies
can be shared evenly across populations.
What is the future of automation technologies and can
they be a force for good?
How can government, trade unions and individuals deal
with the huge potential of current and near-future automation technologies?
What can the history of automation tell us - or warn us
- about its deployment within industries?
What kinds of technology are we really talking about
here? Software bots, driverless cars, retail software, etc.
4. Leisure Beyond Consumption
People are getting older, and our working weeks are
(hopefully) going to be shorter in the future: what does leisure look like in
the next 20 - 30 years?
How do we make leisure less carbon-intensive and less
What would a public infrastructure for leisure look
5. Flexibility and Precarity: making the ‘gig economy’ work for the worker
The ‘gig economy’ includes some of the most harmful and
exploitative employment practices in the UK. How can this be remedied?
Is flexibility always a bad thing?
How do we tackle the bogus classification of some
workers as ‘self-employed’?
Is the ‘gig economy’ here to stay?
PhD Placements in the Cabinet Office Open Innovation Team
The Cabinet Office’s Open Innovation Team has been established to generate analysis and ideas for priority projects by helping officials collaborate more intensively with outside experts. We are supported by Research Councils UK and sponsored by four leading universities —Essex, Lancaster, York and Brunel — but our relationship with our sponsors is not exclusive.
We are inviting PhD students to join our team on placement for a minimum of 3 months to help us deliver projects on health, welfare reform, industrial strategy, digital transformation and various other priority areas.
Over the past two years, we have had more than 40 PhD students join our team or departments we are working with for placements of three to six months. At least five of these students have gone on to get policy jobs after completing their studies. Please get in touch if you are interested in arranging a placement with us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Responsibilities PhD students working with us on placement will be expected to carry out a range of tasks, including: ● Reviewing evidence to inform policy discussions and help scope out projects ● Generating analysis and policy ideas working alongside officials and outside experts ● Developing project plans to ensure projects remain on track ● Pitching new projects to Whitehall departments and non-government partners ● Managing stakeholders inside and outside Whitehall ● Organising engagement activity, including arranging meetings, university visits and Whitehall policy seminars
Required skills/experience We are looking for PhD students who can: ● Communicate well , including translating complex ideas to non-expert audiences ● Manage their time effectively, juggling a variety of tasks with minimal supervision ● Collaborate with a variety of team members, government officials and academics ● Adapt as projects and partners evolve ● Demonstrate an interest in policy and a willingness to learn about new issues
Training and experience expected to be gained on the placement The placement will provide an excellent opportunity to: ● Understand more about how Whitehall works and how policy is developed ● Hone writing and communication skills for non-expert audiences ● Develop networks in government , including the Cabinet Office and other departments ● Build knowledge of new policy areas