PhD Researcher / Lecturer in Foundations of Law

PhD Researcher / Lecturer in Foundations of Law

Published Deadline Location
21 May 19 Jun Maastricht

Job description

This position is funded by a Starter Grant from the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University. The grant holder, daily supervisor, and co-promoter for this PhD position is dr. Lukasz Dziedzic and the promoter is prof. dr. Roland Pierik. The successful applicant is expected to prepare a proposal and conduct research in an area closely related to the research project for which the Starter Grant has been awarded.

Research Project
Debates surrounding the concept of the ‘rights of nature’ have gained a certain prominence given the need to find legal approaches to address the massive depletion of ecosystems and the mass extinction of species. In ‘anthropocentric’ law, the protection of nature is achieved by means of environmental law, where nature only has instrumental value for the subject endowed with ultimate value, the human subject with her human rights.

Given the limitations of such an approach, and in reaction to the anthropocentrism of classical environmental law, many have been advocating for an eco-centrism putting the independent interests of natural entities central stage and endowing them with ultimate value as a foundation of independent rights of nature. Eco-centrism in regard to rights of nature can rely on either scientific foundations as the ontological foundation for nature’s ultimate value, or theological/cosmological arguments – as has been the case with many of the practical applications of rights of nature discourses grounded in indigenous cosmologies, for example.

The theoretical problem with such arguments is that they are reliant on either factual scientific claims from which no direct normative claims on the value of nature can be derived (naturalistic fallacy), or they make metaphysical claims, which cannot objectively be assessed. Furthermore, such an approach of grounding rights of nature as moral rights on some conception of the ultimate value of nature potentially smuggles in certain anthropomorphic prerequisites of theories of rights, such as conceptions of autonomy, self-determination, interests and dignity, which might not be necessary as normative foundations in grounding legal rights of nature.

Given these conceptual difficulties, some in-between approaches, trying to keep a critical distance from both anthropocentrism and eco-centrism, have been developed, which are furthermore worth exploring. One such promising approach tries to found rights of nature as legal rights on the rationality of valid property law, trying to use property law by extending property rights to natural entities as a limit to the exploitative tendencies of anthropocentric property relations. Here, also eco-socialist approaches highlighting the ecological rift in the social metabolism between humans and nature can contribute additional arguments for a critique of both anthropocentric law and eco-centric approaches to the rights of nature.

In order to assess the merits of all these different approaches it is also necessary to address some prior questions regarding the legal ontology of the rights of nature. Next to ontological questions, the project also aims to address certain normative questions regarding the compatibility between rights of nature and human rights, especially in cases of conflicts between these different categories of rights.

Job Description
The candidate will:
  • Determine a specific research focus within the research project described above.
  • Regularly meet with the supervisory team to discuss progress.
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis, either in the form of submitted/published articles or a monograph.
  • Teach courses coordinated by the Maastricht Foundations of Law Department, amounting to 0.5fte of the full appointment,
  • Actively participate in the activities of the Maastricht Center for Law & Jurisprudence, including expected presentations in the Maastricht Foundations of Law Colloquia series
  • Take part in training by the Graduate School of Law at Maastricht University.
  • Organize events and conferences.
  • Closely work together with other PhD Researchers at the Maastricht Foundations of Law Department working in areas adjacent to the research project.

  • Master’s degree in Law, Philosophy or adjacent field.
  • Excellent grades and obvious interest in academic research.
  • Interest in foundations of law more broadly, as well as recent debates regarding law and more than human entities.
  • Excellent organisational skills.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English at an academic level.
  • Readiness to engage in academic teaching, not only in one’s own field but also in the more general legal (skills) courses.
  • Willingness to obtain the University Teaching Qualification (UTQ).
  • Being able to work both independently as well as in a team, with a solution-oriented attitude and a healthy dose of academic curiosity.

What we offer
As PhD Researcher / Lecturer in Foundations of Law at Faculty of Law, you will be employed by the most international university in the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:
  • Good employment conditions. The position is graded in scale 10 according to UFO profile Docent-Promovendus, with corresponding salary based on experience ranging from €3226,00 and €5090,00 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus apply.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1,0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 5 years will follow.
  • At Maastricht University, the well-being of our employees is of utmost importance, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as 'acknowledge and appreciate'.

The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the collective labor agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, click here.

Maastricht University
Why work at Maastricht University?

At Maastricht University (UM), everything revolves around the future. The future of our students, as we work to equip them with a solid, broad-based foundation for the rest of their lives. And the future of society, as we seek solutions through our research to issues from all around the world. Our six faculties combined provide a comprehensive package of study programmes and research.

In our teaching, we use the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in small groups, looking for solutions to problems themselves. By discussing issues and working together to draw conclusions, formulate answers and present them to their peers, students develop essential skills for their future careers.

With over 22,300 students and more than 5,000 employees from all over the world, UM is home to a vibrant and inspiring international community.

Are you drawn to an international setting focused on education, science and scholarship? Are you keen to contribute however your skills and qualities allow? Our door is open to you! As a young European university, we value your talent and look forward to creating the future together.

Click here for more information about UM.

Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law at Maastricht University is a top-quality provider of challenging and rewarding Dutch and European legal education at bachelor’s, masters and PhD-level. A true pioneer in small-scale education and the teaching of legal skills for a broad range of future legal professionals.

The clear research focus on European and international aspects of law and technology. On the empirical dimension of law provides both students and staff with a stimulating work environment. The faculty values its open and inclusive community, which contributes to creating a productive and pleasant place for work and study.

The Faculty of Law offers a wide range of bachelor and master's programs. Would you like to learn more about our programs? Visit our website for more information on the courses, career perspectives, and admission requirements of our programs.

The Department of Foundations of Law offers courses in the field of philosophy of law, legal history, and legal theory, as part of our LL.B. and LL.M. programmes. Members of the department analyse the foundations of law from a legal philosophical, legal theoretical and legal historic perspective. The department is embedded in the Faculty of Law that offers an international classroom with students from over 20 different nationalities.

Are you interested in this exciting position but still have questions? Feel free to contact Dr. Lukasz Dziedzic at for more information.

Or are you already convinced and ready to become our new PhD Researcher in Foundations of Law? Apply now, no later than June 19, 2024 for this position.

Please upload your CV, motivation letter, grade list, contact information of 2 referees, and a one-page Phd research project description.

The interviews will preferably take place on 1 July, 2024. If necessary, a second round of interviews will be scheduled soon thereafter.

Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position


Maastricht University (UM)


  • PhD
  • Law
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €3226—€5090 per month
  • University graduate
  • 970


Maastricht University (UM)

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Bouillonstraat 3, 6211LH, Maastricht

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 19 Jun 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).