LSE Philosophy seeks to recruit one research student for a fully funded 4-year PhD degree, contributing to the ‘Episodic Memory: Uniquely Human?’ project. Applications close 13 January 2023.

The EMUH Project

We remember many events from our past, from the momentous to the mundane. Most of us find we can ‘mentally replay’ these past events in our mind’s eye. This kind of memory is called episodic memory.

Episodic memory is central to our mental lives. Its loss, as in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, can be devastating. But episodic memory research is a relatively young field, home to many puzzles. The Episodic Memory: Uniquely Human? project, a four-year UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship led by Dr Ali Boyle, focusses on two of them.  

First, what is episodic memory’s function? That is, what precisely does it do, and why is it useful for us to have episodic memory, in addition to memory for facts and skills?

Second, how widespread is episodic memory? Do other animals remember past events, or is this a uniquely human cognitive achievement?

These questions are importantly connected: we can’t detect episodic memory in animals without an account of its function, and an account of episodic memory’s function ought to be informed by both its human and non-human manifestations. This project aims to make progress on both issues by bringing them together with a third important strand of episodic memory research: artificial implementations of episodic memory, which have led to significant recent developments in AI. Drawing on evidence and tools from philosophy, comparative cognitive science and AI, the project aims to develop a new account of episodic memory’s function, use this to advance debates about episodic memory in animals and suggest new applications for episodic memory in AI.

The EMUH PhD Scholarship

The EMUH project seeks to recruit one PhD student.

The student will contribute to the project by conducting philosophical research which investigates:

  • the nature and function of episodic memory
  • the study of episodic memory in non-human animals, or
  • the implementation of episodic memory in artificial agents.

The PhD student will also have the opportunity to contribute to interdisciplinary collaborations with external project partners.

The student should have an excellent undergraduate degree and Master’s degree in philosophy or another relevant discipline, such as comparative psychology, cognitive science or artificial intelligence.

The PhD project will be co-supervised by Dr Ali Boyle and one other member of the LSE Philosophy Department. If you have any questions, please write to Ali at Ali will be happy to share further details of the project with potential applicants to help you develop appropriate research proposals.

The successful applicant will receive funding for a 4-year PhD at LSE. This includes payment of tuition fees (at the Home/UK level), and an annual maintenance stipend. The stipend for 2023 entry is to be confirmed, but the PhD stipend for 2022 entry was £19,688 per year.

How to apply

To apply, please apply to the MPhil/PhD in Philosophy at LSE in the usual way, following all the requirements described on the LSE website. When you apply, please indicate clearly in your proposal (in both the Statement of Academic Purpose AND the Research Proposal) that you wish to be considered for the EMUH PhD Scholarship.

You should include in your Research Proposal, a substantial description (of at least 1500 words) of a research project relevant to the EMUH project.