Post-Doc Computational Modelling of Primary School Segregation

Post-Doc Computational Modelling of Primary School Segregation

Published Deadline Location
21 Apr 7 May Amsterdam

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Job description

The Computational Science Lab (CSL) at the Faculty of Science, Urban Geography at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Institute for Advanced Study is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to work on the COMPASS project. In addition to working on the COMPASS project, the postdoc will also contribute to the activities of the ODISSEI Social Data Science (SoDa) team at Utrecht University.

This position is an opportunity to do cutting-edge research in Computational Social Science while at the same time contributing to a young data science team, get involved in a wide range of interesting research projects throughout the country, and to provide a meaningful contribution to computational social science research in the Netherlands.

The COMPASS project
The issue of segregation in education can be (and has been) examined from both the individual level (e.g., parent surveys, choice analysis, etc.) or from macro-level statistics (e.g., changes in segregation level, region, city or national level).  The COMPASS project aims to uncover the dynamics of school choice and resulting patterns of school segregation by assuming a multi-dimensional approach to segregation.

The SoDa team
The ODISSEI Social Data Science (SoDa) team exists to support social scientists in research projects that involve a strong data analysis component. The team consists of a small group of researchers and research engineers. We collaborate on a variety of computational social science projects, proposed by researchers from ODISSEI member organisations. We use our computational, statistical, and research engineering skills to answer questions that would otherwise remain unanswered.

What are you going to do

You will be primarily based at the Computational Science Lab, part of the Institute of Informatics (IvI), and affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study and Urban Geography all at the University of Amsterdam. You will be employed at SoDa Utrecht until the end of 2022 and then officially start working at the UvA informatics Institute from Jan 2023 – Dec 2024. However, the expectation is that you will able to collaborate with both teams during the full period.

You will be supervised by Dr. Willem Boterman, associate professor of Urban Geography and, and Dr. Mike Lees, associate professor at the Informatics Institute. At Utrecht you will be supervised by assistant professors Dr. Erik-Jan van Kesteren and  Dr. Javier Garcia-Bernardo. You will be working with multidisciplinary teams of computational scientists and sociologists in close collaboration with policy makers at the Inspectorate for education and the municipality of Amsterdam.

Your primary task will be to examine and develop new multi-dimensional measures of segregation to facilitate development of the computational model. In order to best model parental choice, and in particular understand how many different forms of choice there are, we need as much information about the ‘type’ of parent as possible. We need to establish the right groups of agents/ parents and understand exactly when groups of parents have the same (or similar) choice preference (or even mechanism) and when they don’t.

To measure segregation, we will utilise both standard indicators (Exposure index; Dissimilarity Index) and compositional measures (Theil’s information index) to establish which proportions of school segregation are caused at which scales (between municipalities within urban regions; within municipalities; within neighbourhoods).

As part of the SoDa team at Utrecht you will work on various related projects, the exact focus of these smaller projects will depend on the available projects and the expertise and interest of the postdoc, but the projects will involve the use of administrative data (i.e. micro-data from the Central Bureau of Statistics). For example, one potential project involves predicting COVID-19 outbreaks in schools using the family and school networks of Dutch residents. Another involves modelling the evolution of social trust or segregation in such networks.

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • Conducting independent research in Computational Social Science, resulting in academic publications in peer-reviewed international journals and/or books;
  • actively contributing to and developing national and international research networks and other forms of cooperation;
  • developing, coordinating and teaching courses in both Dutch and English, in the bachelor and master programmes;
  • supervising Bachelor and Master theses and tutoring students; co-supervising PhD theses;
  • actively contributing to the development and improvement of the broader teaching programmes in the department;
  • taking part in committees and working groups and carrying out departmental administrative tasks as directed.

An example of your tasks in the SoDa team:

  • Analyse Central Bureau of Statistics microdata and public data regarding school choice;
  • investigate clustering approaches to identify classes of parents;
  • help development/design of agent-based model;
  • consider and develop parental surveys;
  • help with part of project management (e.g., co-organising meetings with stakeholders);
  • regularly present and demonstrate intermediate results.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


What do you have to offer

Your experience and profile:

  • A PhD degree in Computer Science, in Quantitative Social Sciences (Sociology, Geography), Computational Science, Data Science, Statistics, or other relevant discipline;
  • some programming experience, for example in Python, R, SPSS;
  • good statistical skills and knowledge of social/ demographic data;
  • a proactive, independent mindset and a team player;
  • strong communication skills and excellent command of English, Dutch is helpful but not required;
  • affinity with social theory/ social science is also a comparative advantage;
  • commitment to open science, reproducibility, open source, and the FAIR principles.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 24 months.

The position concerns two contracts for temporary employment of 38 hours per week. The contract at SoDa is until 31 December 2022 and the contract at the University of Amsterdam is for the period of 1 January 2023 until 31 December 2024. The position is funded by the Computational Science Lab of the University of Amsterdam, where you will be appointed with a Postdoctoral Researcher 4 profile.

Your salary will be €2,846 to €4,490 gross per month (scale 10), based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

During your contract at UvA we have multiple fringe benefits to offer besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


University of Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds and scientific excellence.


Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The mission of the Informatics Institute (IvI) is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

The Computational Science Lab (CSL) of the Informatics Institute aims to make dynamic complex systems tractable via computational science. We study a broad range of dynamics systems in fields ranging from biomedicine to urban, or socioeconomic systems. We also develop theory of dynamic complex systems based on concepts of information processing.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • Postdoc
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2846—€4490 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 22-8738


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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