PhD candidate in Sociology/Educational sciences working on educational inequalities

PhD candidate in Sociology/Educational sciences working on educational inequalities

Published Deadline Location
8 Jul 17 Jul Amsterdam

You cannot apply for this job anymore.

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Job description

The Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam invites applications for a PhD candidate on the project ' Inequality of educational opportunity across the transition from primary to secondary education in the Netherlands' . This position is funded by the Amsterdam Centre for Inequality Studies (AMCIS).

We are looking for a PhD candidate with strong methodological skills who can further our understanding of the transition from primary to secondary education and its role in the prevalence of educational inequalities in the Netherlands

Project and job description

In the Netherlands, students are regularly administered standardized tests throughout primary education, including a national final achievement test. Student scores on these tests are used to make a formal recommendation for a student’s track placement in the first year of secondary education. As such, the transition from primary to secondary school appears highly standardized in the Netherlands. As standardized tests allow for a more objective assessment of students’ learning potential than teachers’ judgements, they are traditionally seen as egalitarian. Yet, in the past decade, the standardized test received more criticism, as teachers felt they were better able to judge a student’s potential than the test. As of the academic year 2014/2015, teachers’ track recommendations have become the leading indicator for students’ track placement in secondary education. The standardized test is now taken after teachers’ track recommendations are formulated. In case a student’s test performance is higher than the teacher recommendation, teachers can decide to give a higher track recommendation. This opportunity for a reconsideration of a student’s track recommendation based on a higher test score, seems particularly important for students who are at risk for underestimation of their learning potential.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, primary schools had to close down, and the national final achievement test was cancelled. Therefore, track recommendations could not be reconsidered based on test scores. Schools differed in their response to this situation, resulting in a variety of track recommendation processes. The ‘external shock’ of Covid-19 to the process of track recommendation and placement enables us to study the relevance of the standardized test and school recommendation policies on inequalities of opportunity across the transition from primary education to the tracked system of Dutch secondary education. The broad research question of this PhD project is how more and less standardized procedures relate to inequality of opportunity by socioeconomic and migration background, gender and school composition across the transition from primary to secondary education.

We are interested to explore how primary schools designed their track recommendation process when the final test was canceled, and to explore the consequences of these processes for students from various backgrounds. Data of the PRIMS-project can be used, together with accompanying teacher surveys and data from the standardized Student Monitoring System (Leerlingvolgsysteem) that all schools use. Additional data will be collected by replicating the (cancelled) final school test in the first year of the secondary school.

During the four-year PhD project, the selected candidate will be able to develop his/her own four-year research agenda on the abovementioned theme. This research is conducted both independently and in collaboration with other members of the departments of Sociology and Educational Sciences. The supervisors are Dr Sara Geven, Dr Louise Elffers, and Prof Dr Herman van de Werfhorst. The PhD candidate can be tasked with a limited amount of teaching of bachelor students (up to 10% of the working time). The PhD candidate will also be embedded in the ICS graduate school, and participate in its PhD programme.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You have:

  • a Master’s degree in Sociology, Educational Sciences or any other relevant social science, preferably a degree from a research master;
  • an excellent command of quantitative research designs and statistical methods;
  • a strong interest in the themes of the project.

You are:

  • enthusiastic about doing social science research;
  • interested in doing research that crosses disciplinary boundaries
  • preferably sufficiently fluent in Dutch to enable interaction with the local educational field.

Conditions of employment

Our offer

The intended starting date of the PhD position is 1 September 2020, or soon thereafter. The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial appointment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching Bachelor's students.

The salary will be €2,395 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3,061 in the fourth year, based on a full-time employment contract and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary employee benefits, including a generous holiday scheme and year-end bonus. Because we value your continued personal development and professionalisation, we also offer excellent opportunities for study and development.

What else can we offer you?

A stimulating work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is an active participant in a diverse, international community. Our goal is for you to feel at home here, regardless of your background, race, orientation and/or beliefs.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.  

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences  -Department of Sociology

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is an active participant in a diverse, international community. Our goal is for you to feel at home here, regardless of your background, race, orientation and/or beliefs.

Sociology at the UvA focuses on the spatial and socio-economic mobility of the urban population, the rise and fall of urban lifestyles and cultures, social relations between individuals and groups, old and new forms of discrimination, inequality, and citizenship, as well as the policy dimensions.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 20-405


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

Learn more about this employer


Nieuwe Achtergracht 127, 1018 WS, Amsterdam

View on Google Maps