PhD candidate in International Relations / International Political Sociology (Digital Methods)

PhD candidate in International Relations / International Political Sociology (Digital Methods)

Published Deadline Location
28 May 15 Jul Leiden

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The institute of Political Sciences of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a PhD candidate in International Relations / International Political Sociology (Digital Methods)

Job description

The PhD candidate will be part of the interdisciplinary project “The Security Politics of Algorithmic Vision (Security Vision)” hosted at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. The project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and led by Dr Francesco Ragazzi.

The project investigates how technologies of computer vision work in practice in the field of security (smart CCTV, social media content moderation, border control, etc.), and what their ethical and political implications are. The project addresses these challenges through an innovative theoretical and methodological framework based on digital and visual practices to advance debates in international politics. The project has three interrelated objectives.

  1. To map the current field of computer vision institutions and technologies in the field of security, by constituting a dataset of actors, programs and applications, through multiple correspondence analysis and social network analysis. This first phase will produce, in addition to a textual analysis, several data visualization outputs.
  2. On the basis of this mapping, the project will investigate both the algorithmic and the social logics of these technologies, the professionals who program, train and operate them. Visual ethnographies (filmmaking) will provide an in-depth analysis of the workings of computer vision by focusing on three cases.
  3. Finally, the bureaucratic context, as well as the ethical and political impact of these technologies on fundamental rights will be analysed through expert interviews and focus groups. 

Key responsibilities

  • Complete, within 4 years, a PhD thesis (either monograph or articles); composed of a written part and a substantive digital/audio-visual work. This is not a practice-based PhD in the arts, but a theoretically and empirically informed PhD in international relations/international political sociology grounded on the practice of digital/new media methods.
  • Carry out objective 1 of the project by compiling a dataset of actors, programs and applications of computer vision in the field of security, and carry out statistical analyses of the dataset (with the support of the PI and the Post-Doctoral Researcher).
  • Support the research team (PI, Post-Doctoral Researcher and fellow PhD students) during phase 2 of the project related to the analysis of computer vision algorithms.

Additional responsibilities

  • Contributing to research papers of the project, as research assistant or co-author.
  • Contributing to collective data-based and audio-visual work, as researcher or co-director.
  • Collaborating with the team, and in particular assisting the project manager in:
    • fulfilling all the reporting requirements of the ERC project (completing timesheets, regular reporting, etc.);
    • monitoring the implementation of the project and the timely reporting and delivery of all project commitments to the EC;
    • conducting the review and quality assurance of project deliverables;
    • keeping the project team on schedule and within budget through regular updates and communication with team members.
  • Contributing to project communications (contributing to the social media accounts and newsletter).
  • Contributing to the dissemination strategy of the project, both in academic (conferences) and audio-visual sectors (festivals, broadcasters, other distribution channels).


Leiden University


  • A (research) master’s degree in political science / international relations or in a relevant discipline (anthropology, sociology, media studies, data studies) or be near completion:
  • Experience in quantitative research methods / statistics.
  • Experience in data visualization / digital practice / new media practice / critical making.
  • Substantive interest in and knowledge of critical security studies, international political sociology, science and technology studies, data politics, surveillance, discrimination, ethnic and racial politics, human rights.
  • Ability to work collaboratively.
  • Excellent command of English. Any other language is a plus.
  • Experience in participant observation, interview techniques and focus groups, works in your advantage.

Conditions of employment

The position preferably starts on 1 January 2021. We offer a full-time position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2,325 to € 2,972  gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %) and training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More information can be found on our website.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Leiden University

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises five institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see our website. 

The Institute of Political Science has a strong research tradition in various areas of comparative, Dutch and international politics, as well as political theory. The Institute has around 80 academic staff, including many non-Dutch scholars, and houses a number of editorships of international refereed journals and book series. Members of the institute are also involved in a number of the university’s multi-disciplinary research centres, including Central and East European Studies, International Relations, Political Parties and Representation, and Political Philosophy. The Institute is based in Leiden but a large and growing part of the teaching is done nearby in The Hague.

The PhD candidates will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, which offers PhD support and training.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • University graduate
  • 20-235



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