5 (5-year) PhD positions in the department Law, Society & Crime

5 (5-year) PhD positions in the department Law, Society & Crime

Published Deadline Location
23 May 21 Jun Rotterdam

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Driven by its ambition to expand its position as a leading research institute in Europe, Erasmus School of Law is recruiting PhD researchers (5-years), with 20% teaching tasks.

Job description

The Department Law, Society & Crime provides a home to researchers in Criminology, Criminal Law, Sociology of Law and Health Law. Research in the Department focuses on four distinct, albeit interrelated research lines:

  1. The study of phenomena related to unsafety, insecurity, and marginalization, and the social responses to these phenomena, both from a legal normative perspective and an empirical perspective;
  2. The analysis of fundamental assumptions underlying rules and regulations and studying the implementation of regulation, its effectiveness and its legitimacy, and the unintended consequences of the way in which the law is implemented;
  3. The study of actors and professions within the (criminal) justice system, including judicial decision-making and the way in which legal professionals operate;
  4. Fundamental legal reflection on the role of legal sanctions, (reforms in) criminal proceedings, and the study of transitions between legal domains including questions about competences between various jurisdictions and authorities.

Thematically, this includes (but is not limited to) research on various forms of crime and harm (environmental crime, juvenile crime, organised and subversive crime, corporate and white-collar crime, fraud, radicalism), medical-ethical issues, migration, diversity, multiculturalism, and processes of inclusion/exclusion, research on the role of legal sanctions, research on different modes of governance and its intended and unintended consequences, and digitalization and the use of big data.

Research in the department is characterized by the multidisciplinary background of its staff (criminal law, criminology, sociology, anthropology, public administration, psychology), often adopts an empirical perspective and applies multiple empirical research methods (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research). Moreover, given the multidisciplinary background of its staff, the Department is particularly well equipped to study international comparative socioeconomic and legal issues that have global causes and are often dealt with nationally or locally.

The Department is responsible for a considerable part of the bachelor and master curricula of Erasmus School of Law. Specifically, the department provides bachelor education in Criminology, Criminal Law, Law and Sociology, and health law. Furthermore, the Department Law, Society & Crime is responsible for 4 Master programmes, including in Criminology, an International Master in Advanced Research in Criminology, Criminal Law, and a Double Degree programme preparing for legal practice. Most of the bachelor teaching is in Dutch, teaching in the masters is also in English.

For each of the 5 projects, information is provided about the daily supervisor and contact person. The first supervisor will be assigned depending on the specific topic of the PhD project. See for an overview of the professors of the Department Law, Society and Crime https://www.eur.nl/en/esl/about-us/our-departments/law-society-crime/our-team.


Project 1: Neighbourhood representations and stigma over time

Neighbourhoods are represented in different ways by various actors such as governments, news agents, businesses, and residents. These representations impact residents’ involvement in crime and the social responses to it. This project thus links to the first research line of the department. This project aims to unravel how neighbourhood stigma is produced and why some neighbourhoods lose their stigma while others do not. Texts from sources like newspapers, social media, and policy documents will be analysed to understand what social processes drive these changes over time.

Applicants are invited to connect their research idea to the following related topics:

  • Neighbourhood representations and neighbourhood stigma in various media and documents
  • Developments in neighbourhood representations over time and their relation to neighbourhood demographics
  • The role of different actors in producing neighbourhood representations


  • The project will adopt a mixed-methods approach, with a focus on computational text analysis
  • A basic understanding of qualitative research methods is required
  • An advanced understanding of statistical analysis is required; familiarity with computational text analysis is a pre but not a prerequisite

Students from the digital humanities are also invited to apply.

Daily supervisor and contact person: dr. Gijs Custers.


Project 2: Media, sports, popular culture and deviance

Within the broader theme, media, sports, popular culture and deviance, applicants are invited to conduct research related to one or both of the following sub-themes:

  • Sports & deviance

To date, criminological research into the integrity of sport performances has been lacking. Projects could aim to better understand the tensions between medical-technical developments on the one hand and the integrity of sports performances on the other; ways in which authorities such as the Doping Authority and other governing bodies, like, for example, cycling teams try to keep a grip on the problem of using doping; motives of users (both professionals and amateurs) and sellers to participate in activities considered deviant. Depending on the specific topic chosen, the project could be linked to the first, second or fourth research line of the department.

  • Media, popular culture & deviance

The ways in which deviance is represented in popular culture can impact future deviant behaviour as well as the social responses to it. Understanding how audiences perceive violence and crime in different contexts as well as the different meanings that audiences attach to violence and crime in different contexts (e.g. crime-as-entertainment vs. crime-as-condemnable) is therefore crucial to better understand the link between media, popular culture and crime. This project therefore links to the first research line of the department. Projects could specifically focus on the ways in which certain groups or behaviors are represented as ‘deviant others‘ in popular culture, such as films, series or podcasts; interactions between media reporting and violence.

Daily supervisor and contact person: dr. Joost Jansen.


Project 3: Activism and Extremism: phenomena and social reactions

In recent years, government institutions, traditional media networks, companies (e.g. in the pharmaceutical or fossil fuel industries) and universities have been subjected to criticism from various activist and sometimes extremist actors. The actors that voice their critique online and offline range from environmental activists to protesting farmers against current nitrogen policies, to rightwing extremists and conspiracy believers. These critiques are part of a broader societal interaction that is characterized by processes of polarization and that is often centered around discussions of what ‘truth’ and ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’ are. Within this broader topic, applicants are invited to formulate a concrete idea for a qualitative or mixed methods research project. This idea could center around topics as diverse as the meanings and experiences of specific activist or extremist movements or groups, political or media discourses on these movements or groups, theoretical reflections on notions of truth and trust in this era or the dynamics of polarization and Othering, and an analysis or evaluation of the (governmental) control of the movements and groups at hand. Depending on the specific topic chosen, the project can be linked to the first, second or fourth research line of the department.

Daily supervisor and contact person: dr. Fiore Geelhoed.


Project 4: A criminology of work in an age of globalization and digitalization

Candidates are invited to draft a proposal on one of the following topics:

  • Social harms and the platform business model

Platform firms, like Uber, Amazon or Deliveroo, make profit not only by centering price-based competition, but they have new ways to create and capture value through their capacity to extract, harness and exploit immense amounts of data in ways that allow them to operate as critical intermediaries and market makers. At the same time, platform firms have been scrutinized for contributing to (labour and data) injustices and abuses. While there has been novel research conducted on these injustices and abuses, criminological perspectives on platforms are currently lacking. Projects could address specific sectors that have been platformized such as sex work; food delivery and the 21st century factories of transnational operating goods and information companies; or focus on phenomenon and themes related to the platforms: harmful effects of algorithmic management; the effects of platforms on the informal economy; or address as a topic the more marginalized populations we find working in platforms such as (undocumented) migrant workers and sex workers in streaming platforms. This theme also welcomes topics related to the social responses to social harms of platforms such as worker resistance and activities by supervisory bodies.

  • Social harms and injustices in the globalized economy

Increasing flexibilization of the labour market and the liberalization of welfare regimes has caused a rise in uncertainty, vulnerability and precarity in European labour markets. Most criminological approaches to the beforementioned injustices in the labour market have prioritized a criminal justice approach. Projects within this theme will cast their net wider and focus on phenomenon related to these developments in the economy that are harmful but not always criminalized and phenomenon that are criminalized but opinions are divided on whether a criminal justice approach is appropriate. Possible topics: Wage theft, exploitation in global value chains; migrant labour; social constructivist approaches to labor exploitation and human trafficking; work-based harms; sex work.

Both themes are linked to the first research line of the department. Critical and cultural criminology perspectives, such as political economy, postcolonial theory and intersectional feminism are especially appreciated within this broader theme. This theme welcomes qualitative and mixed-methods research designs.

Expertise on the workings of tech, AI, novel quantitative and big data methods are appreciated.

Daily supervisor and contact person: dr. Jing Hiah.


Project 5: Law in practice and legal professionalism

The PhD-candidate will conduct empirical-legal research related to one of three research themes:

  • Understanding how legal professionals from a diversity of backgrounds navigate and make sense of processes of socialisation, inclusion and exclusion during job application procedures, early career trajectories and professional education, and how such processes and professionals’ choices help to reproduce or remake the composition, culture and status hierarchy of the legal profession. This topic thus links to the third research line of the department. Within this theme, partial use can be made of existing empirical data collected in an ongoing research project.
  • The study of reactive regulation. As regulatory discourse and scholarly attention is dominated by risk-based regulation, the persistent role of regulatory mechanisms reacting to incidents and calamities (such as post-incident inquiries) tends to be overlooked. Research is needed into how reactive regulation affects the operationalization of open (professional) norms, how it contributes to making sense of, and attributing responsibility for, adverse events, and how its hindsight focus relates to the promise of improving practice, linking this project to the first and second research line of the department.
  • Highlighting the social and processual nature of judicial decision-making by studying the role of actors whose influence is commonly rendered invisible by a focus on judges as (supposedly) independent decision-makers. This theme, which links to the third research line of the department, covers the question how professionals and agencies such as police, probationary services, child protection board, and experts in case files, reports and expert testimonies contribute to pre-structuring and determining judicial decision-making through framing, inclusion and exclusion of information, interpreting uncertainties and providing advice.

Daily supervisor and contact person: dr. Willem-Jan Kortleven.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


We are looking for candidates who:

  • hold a master’s degree in Law, Criminology or other discipline relevant for this PhD position;
  • can demonstrate scientific research skills;
  • can demonstrate experience with empirical research methods
  • have excellent oral and written skills in English (requirements: see application format)
  • Candidates capable of teaching in Dutch are particularly encouraged to apply.

Teaching will be in the Department of Law, Society & Crime; the particular teaching tasks will be decided on the basis of the expertise of the candidate as well as the needs of the Department, and may be in the areas of research methods, criminology, criminal law, empirical legal studies, and possible thesis supervision. Teaching tasks will be mostly in Dutch; teaching in English may also be part of the tasks.

Current master students are welcome to apply. However, appointment will only be possible if the master degree has been obtained before the start of the employment contract. You can apply without having proof of obtaining your master’s degree, however, bear in mind that proof of a master’s degree is a formal requirement for employment and has to be delivered at least 3 weeks before the start date of the contract.

Conditions of employment

An internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with good working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU).

The position starts with a temporary employment contract for 18 months. This probationary period consists of an educational programme, offered by Erasmus Graduate School of Law, and individual research and entails an evaluation of the progress of the research after one year. In case of a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended. In the remaining 42-month period PhD researchers focus on their research and the completion of their thesis, next to the teaching tasks. In both phases structured guidance is provided by the thesis supervisors and a doctorate committee composed of senior researchers and one of the PhD coordinators of Erasmus Graduate School of Law. Every PhD candidate is supervised by two or three (co-) supervisors.

The start date of this position is between 1 October 2023 and 1 January 2024 and you will be based at the Campus Woudestein - Rotterdam, Department Law, Society & Crime, Erasmus School of Law (ESL). The position is for 0,8 fte - 1 fte. The salary is dependent on your experience and knowledge and ranges from a minimum of € 2.541 to a maximum of € 3.247 gross per month on a fulltime basis, in accordance with PhD of the CAO-NU. In addition, we offer an 8% holiday allowance, an end-of-year payment of 8.3%, and a very generous paid leave scheme. Furthermore, EUR is affiliated with ABP for the pension provision, and we offer partially paid parental leave, fully paid extended birth leave for partners, a personal career budget, work-life balance coaches, discounted collective health insurance, and more. As an employee, you can also use EUR facilities such as the University library and receive a discount on subscriptions for the Erasmus sports center.

Erasmus University Rotterdam offers a Dual Career Programme (DCP) to assist the life partners of new academic staff (on payroll) in finding employment in The Netherlands. The programme is offered in close cooperation with the nearby universities of Delft and Leiden.

Erasmus University Rotterdam aspires to be an equitable and inclusive community. We nurture an open culture, where everyone is supported to fulfill their full potential. We see inclusivity of talent as the basis of our successes, and the diversity of perspectives and people as a highly valued outcome. EUR provides equal opportunities to all employees and applicants regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, functional impairment, citizenship, or any other aspect which makes them unique. We look forward to welcoming you to our community.


Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in its education and research, as expressed in our mission ‘Creating positive societal impact’. EUR is home to 3.700 academics and professionals and almost 33.000 students from more than 140 countries. Everything we do, we do under the credo The Erasmian Way – Making Minds Matter. We’re global citizens, connecting, entrepreneurial, open-minded, and socially involved. These Erasmian Values function as our internal compass and create EUR’s distinctive and recognizable profile. From these values, with a broad perspective and with an eye for diversity, different backgrounds and opinions, our employees work closely together to solve societal challenges from the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam. Thanks to the high quality and positive societal impact of our research and education, EUR can compete with the top European universities. www.eur.nl.


Erasmus School of Law

Erasmus School of Law employs 500 members of staff and is attended by around 6000 students. Erasmus School of Law offers bachelor programmes in Law, Tax Law and Criminology, with a focus on active academic learning. The Bachelor's phase is characterised by problem-based learning (PBL).  Students can subsequently choose from a wide variety of master programmes. Erasmus School of Law also collaborates in Double Degree programmes combining law and (business) economics or law and business administration and is one of the founders of the European Master in Law & Economics. Once students have completed their master’s degree, they may choose from several postgraduate tracks provided by Erasmus School of Law (in collaboration with Erasmus Academy and others).

At Erasmus School of Law, the fundamental premise of academic research is that law cannot be considered in complete isolation or as an end in itself. It is embedded in an economic and social context that shapes law. At the same time, law shapes society and defines economic relationships. In line with this vision, the mission of Erasmus School of Law is to carry out innovative research on the function of law in its economic and social context. The overarching theme of Erasmus School of Law is therefore 'Where law meets business': Erasmus School of Law is all about the interplay between law, practice and society. Both research and teaching at Erasmus School of Law have a strong social and business orientation. Erasmus School of Law is committed to promoting international and interdisciplinary research, as evidenced by its participation in various international research collaborations.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation
  • Law; Behaviour and society
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT EUR ESL 5 PhD 23052023


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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