PhD Position on Instructional Technology (Virtual Reality) to Learn Global Challenges

PhD Position on Instructional Technology (Virtual Reality) to Learn Global Challenges

Published Deadline Location
29 Aug 31 Oct Den Haag

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Job description

Job description
The Faculty of Governance of Global Affairs and Leiden University College at Leiden University invites applications for a fully funded PhD position in the field of instructional technology for global challenges. The PhD researcher will investigate how to develop an effective VR training program to teach global challenges (e.g., international law of armed conflict) by supporting learners’ cognitive and affective skill development. The PhD candidate will be expected to use diverse methods such as learning analytics, player modelling, and eye tracking. The candidate will perform cutting-edge research, publish on the topics, and be an active part of international research communities in instructional technology. The starting date is scheduled as February 5, 2024.

Project description
Virtual Reality (VR) provides powerful learning environments for higher education. It creates immersive real-life scenarios where learners can practice cognitive and affective skills. More importantly, VR experience can be shared with multiple learners online or offline, which allows for teamwork skill training. This can be extended to global online network between international institutes, facilitating global teamwork experience and inclusive learning. We collaborate with the VR team at International Committee of Red Cross, to develop a training program to teach professional skills for global challenges (e.g., armed conflict, humanitarian activities). The goal of this project is to make VR training effective by implementing a suitable instructional design. For this end, this project investigates learners’ cognitive processes such as problem-solving, ethical decision, social interaction, teamwork in multi-user role playing, and empathy during the VR training. We will use educational theories, cognitive psychology, and diverse research methods (e.g., quantitative, qualitative).

Your Role and Responsibilities
  • developing, planning, and conducting your own research in the framework of the project and completing your PhD thesis within a four-year timeframe;
  • conducting the research project including conceptualization, methodology, data collection and analysis
  • participating in project meetings and events;
  • contributing to team publications and reports, including articles in top international peer-reviewed journals;
  • in cooperation with team members, preparing and delivering presentations at national and international conferences and stakeholder meetings;
  • contributing to developing other deliverables (e.g. blogs, infographics for the project website and other social media) for broader audiences;
  • mentoring of Bachelor and Master students who are affiliated with the project;
  • contributing to teaching as a part of LUC’s program, for instance, statistics or quantitative research method (0.2 FTE of the full-time appointment per year for the 4-year duration of the PhD);
  • undertaking any other duties relevant to the research project.


Leiden University


Your Profile
  • A master’s degree or equivalent in psychology, computer science, cognitive science, education, educational science & technology, educational engineering, human-computer interaction, human factors, or related fields
  • Strong interest in application of emerging technology to education
  • Good training in research methods such as quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods
  • Strong quantitative research skills with proficiency in statistical tools such as R or Python.
  • Interest and/or experience with eye tracking technology in VR is a plus
  • Affinity with VR and the interest to assist VR developers with programming (experience with Unreal Engine or Unity is a plus)
  • Knowledge and curiosity about educational psychology (e.g., cognitive load)
  • Ability to work in a highly interdisciplinary, innovative, and creative research project
  • Excellent social skills and ability to work constructively in an international/intercultural team
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English, in order to work in an international university and also to collaborate with local research participants and international stakeholders

Conditions of employment

Terms and conditions
The appointment as a PhD candidate will be for a period of four years. Initially for a period of one year with an extension of three years after positive evaluation of progress and skills development, leading to the successful completion of a PhD thesis. Salary ranges from € 2.418 to € 3.111 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 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.
All our PhD students are embedded in the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA) Graduate School. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Our organization
The Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs is an internationally acclaimed academic knowledge hub that studies world-wide issues from the varied perspectives of governance, politics, law, sociology and economics. We contribute to far-reaching socio-cultural debate through our acquired knowledge. We aim to do this not only through education and research, but also by organizing lectures and debates to learn from.
The faculty’s scientific research is organized around a number of centers and institutes in The Hague, city of peace and justice. Staff members conduct research in fields such as global politics, public administration, security, and urban issues. Complex issues are examined from an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary perspective. For more information, see here.

Leiden University College
Leiden University College The Hague (LUC) is the international Honors College of Leiden University, offering an innovative Liberal Arts & Sciences undergraduate program to highly talented and motivated students from all over the world. It has consistently ranked the top liberal arts and sciences’ college in the Netherlands with a strong track record on societally-relevant social science research.
Research at LUC fits within the general frame of global challenges that is central to our teaching program, covering major societal issues including Peace & Justice, Diversity, Prosperity, and Sustainability. Key research themes include international relations and conflict studies, international justice, governance and development, earth, energy, and sustainability, human diversity and belonging, and global public health.

Leiden University, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, and Leiden University College are strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcome applications from members of underrepresented groups.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14027



Turfmarkt 99, 2511DP, Den Haag

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