Postdoc on Law, Robots & Society (0.8-1.0 FTE)

Postdoc on Law, Robots & Society (0.8-1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
9 Jul 23 Aug Leiden

Job description

Leiden Law School, Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) is looking for a

Postdoc on Law, Robots & Society 0,8 - 1,0 FTE

Vacancy number 15014
eLaw, the Center for Law and Digital Technologies at Leiden University, is looking for a 3-year postdoctoral researcher with expertise in law, robots, artificial intelligence (AI), and data science.

There is an increasing gap between the policy cycle's speed and technological change. This gap is noticeable in healthcare robotics, where policies are scattered and cover the issues that robots entail unevenly. This disconnection results in robot developers failing to integrate essential legal considerations into their designs, user safety not always ensured, and the development of systems that may cause harm to patients. While other sectors enjoy evidence-based policies that translate policy goals into practical guidance, these frameworks have yet to emerge for robotic technology.

The ERC StG SAFE & SOUND ( works out a mechanism capable of matching emerging technology to regulation and vice versa by heralding a practical and dynamic route to identify regulatory gaps for specific care robot technologies through inclusive and collaborative mechanisms, test these gaps in experimental settings featuring future-facing mitigation strategies, and reuse the data generated for robot evidence-based policies. The ground-breaking idea behind SAFE&SOUND is to use robot simulators to help improve specific robots and their regulation.

By using such knowledge, SAFE&SOUND has the potential to set the policy debate around robot and AI technologies on a better and more grounded footing. SAFE&SOUND advances research on the use of science for robot policy and opens avenues toward an evidence-based regulatory model for robots in the EU that guides rather than catches up with robot (r)evolution and is more attuned to societal needs and fundamental rights.

The research objectives of SAFE&SOUND are:
  • RO1: Identify regulatory gaps for personal care robots
  • RO2: Test uncovered legal challenges for personal care robots
  • RO3: Leverage robot testing zones data to support evidence-based policy change
  • RO4: Investigate science for robot policy conception, effectiveness and sustainability

As a postdoctoral researcher at the ERC StG Safe&Sound, you will advance the knowledge of science for robot policy. In concrete, you will
  • develop a stakeholder engagement strategy for RO1, including the organization of workshops, meetings, and surveys;
  • plan and conduct interviews with different stakeholders to complete RO1 and analyze gray information;
  • process data in RO2 in the testing zones created by the Eurobench project (;
  • build a mechanism to translate raw data into policy-relevant data in RO3, In particular, we are interested in understanding how we can effectively generate and leverage data for robot policy change. We also want to know how these data could promote more inclusive robotics designs and how patient organizations could benefit from them;
  • develop the theory of science for robot policy for RO4.

Within this narrative, you will contribute to several ongoing activities, projects, and initiatives in our group eLaw at Leiden University, including:

Because postdoctoral researchers must grow and excel, you will also have time to forge your research line and explore the topics dearest to you.

Key responsibilities
  • Independent performance of research in science for robot policies, with a focus on diversity, autonomy, and safety;
  • Use legal design, a method that brings design thinking, user research, and human-centered design to deliver legal knowledge usable, useful, and engaging for different communities to work out a model supporting multi stakeholder recommendations for policy change;
  • Preparing questionnaires, conducting interviews with affected stakeholders, and processing the outcomes in deliverables and publications;
  • Disseminating academic results in leading international and peer-reviewed scientific journals and top-tier conferences;
  • Communicating project results to the broader public in different formats, including blog posts, podcasts, media material, or art installations;
  • Management and coordination tasks within ongoing projects and initiatives of the center;
  • Expanding teaching experience by preparing some guest lectures in existing bachelor’s or master’s courses;
  • Contributing to the team spirit of eLaw.

Selection Criteria
  • A completed PhD in the field of data science, mechanical engineering, computer science with a mixed background in value-sensitive design, ethics, or law. Alternatively, a completed PhD in the field of law and technology with interest or experience in data science, mechanical engineering, or computer science. Candidates who have not yet completed their PhD but have an approved manuscript can also apply. Candidates without an approved manuscript are not eligible for this position;
  • Academic background in diversity, technology law, artificial intelligence, robotics, or data science;
  • Experience with empirical legal research, including survey and questionnaire preparation, interviews, and data processing;
  • Experience in assistive technologies, in particular lower-limb exoskeletons and socially assistive robotics is an advantage, but not a strict requirement;
  • Availability to travel internationally to the testing zones created by the H2020 Eurobench project (;
  • Familiarity with the background information that supported the creation of the ERC StG SAFE&SOUND (more:;
  • Excellent research and writing qualities, demonstrated by (international, peer-reviewed) publications, dissertation, and outreach activities;
  • Experience in submitting research proposals to grant organizations;
  • Experience in working in multidisciplinary and/or international teams, including sensitivity and inclusiveness regarding cultural differences among staff and students;
  • Enthusiastic and proactive, with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, spoken and written;
  • Excellent team player and warm community builder;
  • Excellent English, spoken and written. Command of other European languages, including Spanish and Italian, is an advantage.

Leiden University
Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The university permeates the local surroundings. The university premises are scattered throughout the city and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.

Leiden Law School, Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw)
With over 5,000 students and 450 members of staff, Leiden Law School is one of the largest faculties in the Netherlands. Yet, in all its diversity, it is still known for its ability to provide education on a small scale. The Faculty focuses on multi-faceted high-level teaching and research, both nationally and internationally. It does so by working with talented people and stimulating and supporting them in their professional and personal ambitions. The Faculty is housed in the beautifully restored Kamerlingh Onnes Building on the Steenschuur in Leiden. Working for the Leiden Law School means working in an inspiring scientific environment. For more information, see Information on the Center for Law and Digital Technologies: Information on Leiden University employment conditions:

The Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) was founded in 1985 and has a leading role in research and education on law and digital technologies. The Center studies the social, legal and normative impact of emerging digital technologies. The focus of our research and education is particularly on digital technologies and their interplay with fundamental rights and the rule of law. Key themes in our research and education are: online privacy and personal data protection; cybercrime and cybersecurity; data science and law; internet governance; law and complexity in digital society; electronic communications law; children's rights in the digital world; fundamental rights and digital technologies; platform regulation; regulation of AI; law and human-machine interaction; legal technologies; ethics and digital technologies.

Terms and conditions
This is a 0.8-1.0 FTE postdoctoral researcher position, starting around 01 October 2024 (open for discussion for before or later). The period of employment is 3 years. There will be a 1 year contract with a 2-month probation period. If the employee performs well, the duration of the contract will be 3 years in total.

Salary ranges from € 2.960.- to € 4.670.- gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale 10, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Salary scale depends on education and experience and also on ERC StG budget availability.

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. 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 here.

Within our policy framework on quality, almost all academic staff at the Faculty of Law have obtained a PhD degree and have met the requirements for the advanced research qualification. In addition, they make a significant contribution to the faculty research program. More information on the advanced research qualification and research programs of the Graduate School of Legal Studies.

Diversity and inclusion
Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to being an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research and that is why it is an essential element in our selection process.

Additional Information
Further information about the position can be obtained from Dr. E. Fosch-Villaronga, email For more details on the procedure, please contact our secretariat, email

Within our policy framework on quality, almost all academic staff at the Faculty of Law have obtained a PhD degree and have met the requirements for the advanced research qualification. In addition, they make a significant contribution to the faculty research program. More information on the advanced research qualification and research programs of the Graduate School of Legal Studies can be found on:

Please submit your application online no later than 23/08/2024 via the blue button in our application system.

Applicants should submit:
  • An online motivation letter of no more than 3 pages with the following sections:
  • An updated CV
    • With a list of publications, outreach activities, and relevant experience to the ERC StG Safe and Sound project.
    • Include the details of your former employer and the names of 2 referees that can support your candidacy. The referees should be available to be contacted via telephone.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.


Leiden University


  • Postdoc
  • Law
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2960—€4670 per month
  • University graduate
  • 15014



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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Application procedure

Application procedure

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