PhD position Security and Safety in the Digital Society

PhD position Security and Safety in the Digital Society

Published Deadline Location
1 Aug 14 Sep Groningen

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Job description

This research project (ESR01) will research: Security and Safety in the Digital Society: Eco-systems enhancing privacy options.

Objectives: The research seeks to propose a comprehensive framework for the protection of the human right to privacy and personal data in the digital society and in particular the digital ecosystems. The framework that will be developed in this research project will derive its elements from human rights law and jurisprudence, security science, and information and technology (IT) governance.

Expected outcomes: The overall result is a dissertation identifying a comprehensive framework for the protection of the human right to privacy and personal data in a complex digital ecosystem. The framework should ensure that the utility that digital ecosystems deliver to citizens does not compromise their human rights and freedoms including the right to privacy and personal data. Thus, the framework will resemble the ideal point at which the benefits of a digital ecosystem and the rights and freedoms of its users co-exist. ESR01 will publish regularly in specialised peer-reviewed journals, participate and present in one workshop and prepare two research reports and a final dissertation.

Main supervisor: Prof dr Jeanne Pia Mifsud Bonnici, University of Groningen.

Co-supervisor: Prof dr Marian Sebe, “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy (MVNIA), Romania.

Planned secondments: at “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy (MVNIA), Romania; Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway and Synergetics NV group (SYN), Belgium.


University of Groningen


Eligibility for admission will be determined by considering the combination of the candidate’s academic qualifications and relevant professional experience according to the table that can be found via:

Candidates who have completed their master degree in an institution where English is not the language of instruction must present one of the following Secure English Language Test (SELT) results as follows:
- TOEFL Internet-Based (iBT) – an overall score of at least 94 with a score of at least 25 in the writing section and 23 in each of the other sections
- Academic IELTS – an overall score of at least 7 with a score of at least 7 in the writing component and 6.5 in each of the other components
- the test results must not be older than 24 months on the date of the application deadline.

Selection criteria:
- quality of the candidate assessed through the candidate’s academic merit and relevant professional experience
- candidates with a proven track record in the fields of law of privacy and data protection, human rights law, or computer science/IT will be given preference
- the candidate should also possess a sound working knowledge of quantitative & qualitative research methods, computer science research methods, legal research methods, and legal research databases.

Personal attributes:
- excellent oral and written communication skills and an ability to communicate effectively across different stakeholder groups
- flexibility and ability to take direction and accommodate feedback from diverse stakeholders
- ability to work both individually and in a (virtual) team environment
- leadership skills
- ability to meet deadlines and produce work of a consistently high standard.

Please note there are strict eligibility requirements that apply to all Marie Skłodowska-Curie Researchers:
- the candidate must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment under the project (short stays such as holidays are not counted)
- at the time of recruitment, the candidate must not have been awarded a doctorate degree and must be in the first 4 years of his/her research career
- the candidate must work exclusively for the project during the employment contract
- the candidate must fulfil the conditions to be admitted in the PhD programme indicated in the Job Vacancy.

Researchers can be of any nationality. They are required to undertake transnational mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up their appointment. Nationality is therefore not a criterion. Rather the location of the researcher's residence or main activity during the 3 years prior to their recruitment is determining.

Conditions of employment

The position offered is for three years (36 months) at full-time employment. Each successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another two years. Prolongation of the appointment is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the appointment period is to be expected.

In accordance with Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), the total allowance will consist of EUR 38,924.76 per year. Note that this rate includes the employer's costs i.e. national insurance contribution and gouvernment bonus. Mobility Allowance is EUR 7,200 per year per researcher. Family Allowance (where applicable at the time of recruitment) is EUR 6,000 per year per researcher (all amounts stated are before taxation).

The starting date is 1 November 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter.


You may apply for this position until 15 September 2017 23H59 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below the advertisement on the university website).

Applications should include:
- motivation letter (500 words)
- curriculum vitae including a list of publication and the names and contact information of 2 references
- copies of academic certificates and transcripts
- a brief research proposal addressing the topic of the research project (500-1000 words)
- English proficiency results if applicable.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 22 September 2017. Interviews are planned after 28 September 2017.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


Faculty of Law

This position is one of 15 Early Stage Researcher (ESR) Fellowships funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), under the European Commission’s H2020 Work Programme. The selected ESRs will conduct doctoral research on a unique research topic as part of the project “Evolving Security SciencE through Networked Technologies, Information policy And Law (ESSENTIAL)”. ESSENTIAL seeks to: a) train interdisciplinary security experts and professionals to tackle security threats in a systematic manner and b) increase societal resilience and security by addressing in an interdisciplinary manner 15 research topics associated with long-standing problems in the field of security science. This ESR is jointly supervised by the University of Groningen and “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy (MVNIA), Romania.

This position is hosted by the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen. The Faculty of Law is a modern, internationally oriented institution with a four-hundred-year-long tradition. The Faculty of Law has over 3700 students and almost 350 staff members and is thus one of the largest faculties of the University of Groningen. The selected candidate will work with other colleagues in the Security, Technology and e-Privacy Research Group (STeP) organised within the Department of European and Economic Law. STeP consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers collaborating with other departments in the faculty and/or funded by externally raised funds and international guests-researchers. The team covers many areas of information policy & technology law including privacy, data protection, security sciences, surveillance, cybercrime, self-regulation and health informatics. The STeP Research Group currently co-ordinates and participates in a number of European funded projects researching themes similar to this call.


  • PhD positions
  • Language and Culture
  • max. 38 hours per week, temporary
  • University Graduate
  • 217339


University of Groningen

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