Law: Fully Funded UKRI PhD Scholarship: TRUE: Trust in User-generated Evidence (RS190)

Closing date: 14 April 2023

Key Information

Fully Funded UKRI PhD Scholarship: TRUE: Trust in User-generated Evidence: Analysing the Impact of Deepfakes on Accountability Processes for Human Rights Violations

Funding providers: UKRI Frontier Research grant

Subject areas: Law

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-September)

Project supervisors: 

  • Professor Yvonne McDermott Rees 
  • Dr Katy Vaughan

Aligned programme of study: PhD in Law

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description: 

TRUE is a five-year research project originally selected for funding by the European Research Council, which is funded by a UKRI Frontier Research grant [no. EP/X016021/1]. Through an innovative interdisciplinary methodology combining legal analysis of trials, large online experiments, and mock jury trials, TRUE will develop the first systematic account of trust in user-generated evidence (such as photos and videos recorded by witnesses on their mobile phones), in the specific context of its use in human rights accountability processes.

We are seeking to appoint a PhD student to collaborate on one of the key strands of this project, which will focus on investigating how domestic and international courts have approached user-generated evidence in prosecuting atrocity crimes and pursuing accountability for human rights violations. There is considerable scope for the successful candidate to shape their own research agenda within the parameters of the broader project and its research objectives, which are to:

  1. Analyse public awareness of deepfakes and how perceptions of deepfakes impact upon the perceived trustworthiness of user-generated evidence;
  2. Create and validate a scale of trustworthiness for user-generated evidence, identifying the factors that feed into the perceived credibility, reliability and probative value of that evidence and comparing it to other types of evidence from both lay and professional fact-finders’ perspectives;
  3. Test the scale of trustworthiness through online and offline experiments with lay and professional factfinders, including through jury simulations;
  4. Examine the extent to which ‘plausible deniability’ arguments, allegations of deepfakes and narratives of (mis)trust have appeared in cases using user-generated evidence to prove mass human rights violations;
  5. Critically assess the likely future role of user-generated evidence in this context, and what steps can be taken to preserve the utility of genuine, reliable, user-generated evidence for future human rights accountability processes.

The successful candidate may wish to: focus on a particular jurisdiction or set of jurisdictions in examining the incorporation of user-generated evidence; avail of argumentation mapping techniques to examine the extent to which ‘plausible deniability’ arguments or allegations of deepfakes appeared in relevant cases, and/or to interview judges, lawyers, investigators, or other actors within the parameters of their project.

We invite interested individuals with a good undergraduate degree and Masters degree in Law or a closely aligned discipline (e.g., Social Sciences) to apply for this fully-funded PhD position.

Applicants should include a 500-word research proposal, setting out a sample research question (within the scope of the TRUE project) and the methods they would use to answer this research question.


Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), with no failed modules at undergraduate level, and a master’s degree with an overall grade of ‘merit’. See ‘country specific information for European and international applicants (available at the bottom of the page)'. 

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with no individual component below 6.0) or Swansea recognised equivalent. Details on the Swansea University English Language entry policy can be found here.

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

NB: If you are holding a non-UK degree, please see Swansea University degree comparisons to find out if you meet the eligibility. 

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in. 


This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £17,668 (UKRI rate).

Additional research expenses will also be available. 

How to Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

  1. Course choice – please select Law / PhD / Full-time / 3 Year / October

    In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

  2. Start year – please select 2023
  3. Funding (page 8) –
  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS190 - PhD TRUE'

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University: 

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email):

  • CV
  • Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)
  • A sample of academic writing such as an essay or an excerpt from a dissertation
  • A brief cover letter stating suitability for the role
  • 500-word research proposal
  • Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Professor Yvonne McDermott Rees (

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.