PhD Researcher in Climate Litigation and Democracy

PhD Researcher in Climate Litigation and Democracy

Published Deadline Location
14 Mar 15 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

We are inviting prospective researchers to apply for one of four PhD positions within the project ‘Strategic Climate Litigation’s Direct and Indirect Consequences for Democracies’. This project is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant and runs 5 years. Within the project we develop the missing theoretical framework that captures the direct and indirect consequences of strategic climate litigation for the democratic process.

Four distinct PhD projects within the overall project investigate, based on the same multi-method approach to strategic climate litigation in 4 national (Germany, France, Netherlands & UK) and 2 European jurisdictions (EU & European Court of Human Rights), how strategic climate litigation interacts with the democratic process and how its (neglected) democratic potential could be realized. The four PhD projects focus on for aspects of this interaction: ‘representation & participation’, ‘international and European norms’, ‘climate science’, and ‘narrative creation’, respectively.

Applicants are asked to develop their own research proposals targeted at one of these four aspects of climate litigation. The whole research team consists of the principal investigator, two postdoctoral researchers, four PhD researchers, and two student assistants. The four PhD projects are based on coding of case law and contextual texts, stakeholder interviews, participant observations (3 months at a litigant organisation), and doctrinal analysis. The scoping of the individual PhD projects and the fine-tuning of the research questions are the first challenge of the successful applicant and the whole research team.

Do you enjoy:
  • Doing legal and social science research and writing on strategic climate litigation in Europe and its interconnections with democracy
  • Being part of a vibrant research community and work in a team
  • Participating in academic exchanges about legal developments regarding contemporary environmental, social, and economic concerns
  • Challenging, reflecting on and speculating about the role of strategic climate litigation for democracy

What does this job entail?
As a PhD researcher, you are expected to conduct innovative research leading to the completion and publication of a PhD dissertation within four years. As part of the team of researchers for the overarching project, you will design an individual research plan, from which you will develop your thesis. These tasks entail coordinating and agreeing with your supervisors on the content, planning and supervision of the trajectory. You will engage autonomously in the collection of data (eg document analysis, interviews) and present intermediate research results in internal discussions and potentially at workshops and conferences. Your teaching responsibilities could include teaching tutorials and supervising Master’s or Bachelor’s theses in European law.

The research component of your employment is 0,9 fte. The teaching component is 0,1 fte, which will be defined in mutual agreement and in line with the teaching needs of the section European law.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Your profile:
  • You have a master’s degree in law or a discipline that provides you with a demonstratable advantage to carry out research on one of the four topics (‘representation & participation’, ‘international and European norms’, ‘climate science’, and ‘narrative creation’);
  • You are interested in conducting research on a topic related to the broader theme of the project and are committed to completing a doctoral dissertation in a period of four years;
  • You have experience with conducting academic research and academic writing in English; knowledge of Dutch, French, or German is an advantage;
  • You have experience or are interested in contextual approaches to law and the combination of legal-doctrinal study with methods from adjacent disciplines (eg history, philosophy, political economy, international relations, political science, science and technology, media studies, etc.).
  • You have a strong interest in pursuing a career in research;
  • You are committed to form part of a team and contribute to activities related to the project, such as the organising of academic events or outreach and communication of research results to activists, relevant communities of practitioners and policy makers;
  • You have excellent organizational skills and are able to work independently;
  • You have excellent interpersonal skills and enjoy working with others.

Then the job of PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam is perfect for you!

Conditions of employment

Your research will be carried out within the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG). The successful applicant will form part of the team carrying out the project ‘Strategic Climate Litigation’s Direct and Indirect Consequences for Democracies’. Strategic climate litigation is an extreme case of strategic litigation, both in quality and in quantity.

It aims to trigger deep socioeconomic changes in response to a global collective action problem. This project aims to unearth not only the direct but also the indirect consequences for the democratic process of strategic climate litigation in Europe, exploring this parallel process of interest representation and forum for exchange through a combination of doctrinal legal and other methods (e.g., social science, political philosophy).

You further have the opportunity to interact and take part in the activities of Sustainable Global Economic Law (SGEL) research project, in which ACELG — together with two other research groups: Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) and Amsterdam Center for Transformative Private Law (ACT)—is an active participant. At the core of SGEL research is a concern for the urgent intertwined challenges of climate change and high levels of inequality that are both shaped by how the global economy is structured.

You will have the opportunity and obligation to participate in the Amsterdam Law School’s PhD training programme and be part of its PhD community.

We offer an employment contract for one year with a probationary period of two months, preferably starting on 1 September 2024. The appointment will be extended for another three years upon favourable evaluation, i.e until 31 August 2028. The employment contract is for 38 hours a week.

Your salary ranges from € 2.770 (in year 1) to € 3.539 (in year 4) gross per month based on a full working week of 38 hours. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8.3% year-end allowance. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) is applicable.

Besides an attractive salary and an inspiring international work environment, our fringe benefits include:
  • 232 leave hours per year (at fulltime employment);
  • A variety of training opportunities, such as time management courses and an online platform with more than 100 different courses;
  • 7 weeks of paid birth leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • the opportunity for hybrid working and support for your home office;
  • a pension with ABP, the pension fund for employees in the government and education sectors, to which UvA contributes two thirds.


Amsterdam Law School

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 42,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

Amsterdam Law School
Committed, responsible and open-minded. This is how we at the Amsterdam Law School view the role of law in a constantly changing (international) society. With over 5,000 students and 550 staff, we are one of the larger law faculties in the Netherlands. We educate legal professionals who know how to apply the law effectively with the aim of contributing to solutions for society. We respond to social developments through innovative and pioneering research. In this way, we always keep in touch with society.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Law
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 12749


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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