Scholarships & funding opportunities

The Long-term Impact of Criminal Organizations on Institutions and Socio-economic Development: The Case of the Sicilian Mafia.

3-year PhD Scholarship, in collaboration with the Department of Economics.


  • Number of scholarships 1
  • Value Stipend: £14,652 pa. Fees: Home/RUK/EU Fee waiver
  • Opens 21 December 2016
  • Deadline 28 February 2017
  • Help with Tuition fees, Living costs
  • Duration 36 months


Candidates are required to have:

  • An excellent undergraduate degree with Honours in a relevant business, scientific/technological or social science subjectA Masters degree (or equivalent) will be strongly preferredStudents may also have other relevant experience or skills which are relevant to this project
  • A Masters degree (or equivalent) will be strongly preferred
  • Candidates who are not native English speakers will be required to provide evidence for their English skills (such as by IELTS or similar tests that are approved by UKVI, or a degree completed in an English speaking country).
Candidates should be available to take up study in the UK on 1st October 2017

*Whilst open to International candidates, please note that this scholarship covers Home/EU/RUK Fee rate only.

Project Details

This PhD scholarship is part of a larger research programme “Mafia, Institutions and State Capacity” involving researchers from MIT, University of York and Strathclyde, focused on the determinants and consequences of organised crime. The emergence of the Sicilian mafia has been studied across several disciplines. An early sociological and anthropological literature characterised it as a subculture arising from an archaic past based on strong links between relatives and patronage networks (Hess 1973, Chubb 1982). In the last twenty-five years, however, a new research hypothesis has largely challenged this analysis, drawing from rational decision-making theory. For instance, Gambetta (1993) interprets organised crime as providing private protection of legitimate businesses in a context largely outside of the reach by the state. According to this logic, weak formal institutions and law enforcement create a favourable environment for the emergence of illegal armed groups. In a current research project in progress Daron Acemoglu (MIT), Giuseppe De Feo (Strathclyde), Giacomo De Luca (University of York) analyse the origins of the Sicilian mafia rooted in the social conflicts in the Sicilian countryside and look at the short term effect on political competition and state capacity.

This scholarship will support the work of a PhD student on the long-term consequences of organized crime on formal institutions and its impact on the economy and social fabric. In particular this project will assess the impact of the mafia on institutional development, i.e. the ability of municipality and state authorities to deliver basic services and local public goods to the population.

Given the relevance of institutions in shaping the socio-economic development of a society, this project will increase the understanding of the impact that organised crime has on the society and the economy (Acemoglu et al. 2001, 2002, 2012, 2013; Acemoglu and Robinson 2006, 2012; De Feo and De Luca 2017). It will also analyse whether institutional changes that characterized the last 30 years of Italian and Sicilian history had a differentiated effect in mafia-ridden areas (e.g., decentralisation, boundary changes in electoral constituencies, and changes in electoral systems.). The project will be mainly based on empirical research with data collection on the political system, banking system, and public spending. 

Further Information

This PhD scholarship is part of a larger research programme “Mafia, Institutions and State Capacity” led by Daron Acemoglu (MIT), Giuseppe De Feo (Strathclyde), Giacomo De Luca (University of York), focused on the determinants and consequences of organised crime.

The PhD student will benefit from the strong background provided by the international leading research group that has developed the more general research project on the causes and consequences of organized crime.


The supervisor is Dr Giuseppe De Feo (, Department of Economics



How to apply

At this stage, we are inviting applicants to apply for the scholarship only. The successful candidate will then be asked to complete an application for PhD study at Strathclyde. 

All applications should include:

  • a cover letter indicating the candidate's relevant skills/experience and how they can contribute to this research
  • a CV and relevant qualification transcripts.
  • two references (please refer to guidance on references)

    When sending the above documents please use the following file-naming convention: fullname_typeofdocument

    For example,







    Apply now by uploading your documents here. Please note that any incomplete applications or applications with files that do not follow the above format will not be considered.*

*We will keep your details on file to use when any other relevent scholarships arise.