PhD candidate position in applied computational methods

PhD candidate position in applied computational methods

Published Deadline Location
18 May 30 Jun Maastricht

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Maastricht University is offering one paid fulltime PhD position.

Job description

Although the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) has taken off, many vulnerable persons such as victims, social media users, children, and consumers are left unprotected or even exploited because they do not have access to legal information or to law enforcement. AI has the potential to assist in empowering those vulnerable persons, but because there is no commercial interest for such activities, the protection of vulnerable persons is severely lagging behind.

There is a growing need to apply computational methods to develop data infrastructures and methodologies, and to apply them to answer empirical research questions that contribute to protecting vulnerable persons in a legally compliant way. In this project, the Ph.D. student will develop, explore, and test computational methods that aid to protect vulnerable persons. The research may consist of

  • how to share sensitive data (e.g. federated learning);
  • the analysis of texts (e.g. social media, forum posts, complaints, legal information) with natural language processing or machine-learning techniques, and / or;
  • network analysis.

Additionally, the regulatory and ethical context will play an important role throughout the project. The precise topic and questions will be further specified and aligned with the expertise and interests of the candidate.

You will perform the research with the support of experts at the Institute of Data Science, the Department of Knowledge Engineering, and the Maastricht Law & Tech Lab at Maastricht University. You will be offered the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from different disciplines, including data science, knowledge engineering, and law. You will be part of an exciting and vibrant community where researchers from different disciplines meet and form interdisciplinary teams that conduct academically and societally relevant research. You will be offered the opportunity to, in addition to gaining knowledge on, expand your horizon and gain insights not only on applying computational techniques, but also on law, regulation, and ethics. For this, you will be encouraged, coached, and allowed to attend courses and workshops that will add social and legal knowledge to your skillset.

Tasks are:

  • Perform scientific research by applying diverse data science techniques;
  • Validate the applied methods and tools through real-world experiments;
  • Present the research results to variety of stakeholders and target groups applying diverse          data visualization techniques;
  • Write scientific papers for international peer-reviewed conferences and journals;
  • Present your work in international conferences;
  • Finalize the work in a PhD thesis.

Supervision will be provided by individually assigned senior researchers. A small proportion (20%) of the appointment will be devoted to teaching activities. The majority of the work (80%) concerns conducting the research.


Maastricht University (UM)


  • MSc degree in Computer Science, Data Science, Information Science, Artificial Intelligence or equivalent.
  • Experience with text mining, machine-learning, and / or network analysis.
  • Interest in law or how artificial intelligence can contribute to the law.
  • Community-friendly team player.
  • Excellent oral and written English communication
  • Optional: geek-friendly.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

  • 38 hours per week;
  • Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD candidates starting with a salary of €2.395,- with a yearly growth to €3.061,- gross a month, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours/week). An 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance is also provided;
  • We offer a 4 year full-time appointment as PhD candidate. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended for another 3 years, which happens in the vast majority of cases;
  • We offer an attractive package of fringe benefits such as, reduction on collective health insurance, substantial leave arrangements, selection model for designing a personalised benefits package, use of UM Sport facilities against reduced rate, and application for attractive fiscal arrangements for employees from abroad;
  • We offer a rewarding career at a young university in the heart of Europe, with a distinct global perspective and a strong focus on innovative research and education;
  • We provide a stimulating, collaborative and interdisciplinary work environment with excellent opportunities for professional and personal development;
  • Maastricht University has an excellent international reputation, and Maastricht itself is a beautiful, open-minded city located in the center of Western Europe.
  • The appointment will be at the Maastricht Law & Tech Lab.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website > Support > UM employees.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 18,000 students and 4,400 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.


Maastricht Law and Tech Lab.

The Maastricht Law and Tech Lab, embedded within the Faculty of Law, aims to produce cutting-edge research and to build a creative community of researchers, teachers and students at the intersection of law, technology, data science and knowledge engineering. The Lab aims to analyze how technology and data science interact with law and justice in society, how technology and data science can increase access to law and justice in society, and analyzes the ethical, legal, and social issues arising from technology and data science innovations. Activities are conducted in collaboration between lawyers, data scientists and / or knowledge engineers. 


  • PhD
  • Engineering; Law; Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2020.151


Maastricht University (UM)

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Bouillonstraat 1-3, 6211 LH, Maastricht

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