PhD Position on the Geography of Online Labour Platforms

PhD Position on the Geography of Online Labour Platforms

Published Deadline Location
7 Jun 30 Jun Utrecht

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Are you excited to develop a geographical perspective on the emerging phenomenon of online labour platforms? Join our project as a PhD candidate!

Job description

The department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning is looking for a PhD candidate who will develop a geographical perspective on the emerging phenomenon of online labour platforms.

Your job
Online labour platforms play an important role in organising the global outsourcing of tasks. Online labour platforms bring together providers and requesters of short-term tasks that can be executed completely online, such as visual design or annotating data to train AI models. Online labour platforms come with the promise of allowing individuals located in more remote or less connected regions to benefit from economic opportunities. Yet, initial evidence suggests that participation in online labour platforms is spatially uneven, hence their benefits and implications too.

As a PhD candidate, you will develop a geographical perspective, which can include topics such as:
  1. the geography of online platform job requesters and job seekers;
  2. the tasks and skill requirements of online platform jobs and their differences across regions;
  3. how drivers of worker participation in online labour platforms are shaped by geography;
  4. the spatially uneven implications for worker outcomes and wellbeing.

Main responsibilities include:
  • designing the research project focusing on topics related to the geography of online labour platforms;
  • collecting, processing and analysing data relevant for the research project;
  • writing and publishing research papers with supervisors in fulfilment of the PhD requirements;
  • presenting your research at (inter)national conferences, workshops, and seminars;
  • completing a dissertation within four years;
  • contributing to the teaching and supervision activities of the department.

You will be based at the Economic Geography Section of the department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning. The spatiality of the digital transition is one of key strategic research themes at the department. You will work under the supervision of Dr Deyu Li, Dr Damion Bunders and Professor Carolina Castaldi.


Utrecht University


We expect the PhD candidate to have a strong interest in topics related to the digital economy and online labour markets. We welcome applicants from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, including economic geography, sociology, economics, innovation studies, media studies, development studies, and other related fields in social sciences.

We are looking for candidates with:
  • a passion for research;
  • quantitative analytical skills including data analytics and statistics; experience with web scraping or large scale online data is welcome;
  • a strong interest in interdisciplinary approaches;
  • excellent writing skills, demonstrated through a writing sample such as your Master's thesis;
  • ability to work independently and communicate professionally;
  • proficiency in spoken and written English (C1 level);
  • motivation to develop teaching skills.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for one year, with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period;
  • a working week of 36 hours and a gross monthly salary between €2,770 and €3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU));
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning investigates sustainability challenges in the context of an ongoing worldwide trend of increasing urbanisation. The department’s ‘Urban Futures’ research programme focuses on urban inequalities, geographies of digital transitions, and urban environmental change. It develops novel theoretical and empirical approaches that are not solely at the forefront of academic debates but that also create new perspectives on successful policies and interventions to address urban challenges. Our research programme is the basis for our Research Master's Human Geography and Geographical Information Management and Applications and for our Professional Master's in Spatial Planning, Human Geography and International Development Studies. The department also runs a large and highly appreciated Bachelor's programme and is part of the Netherlands Graduate School of Urban and Regional Research for PhD candidates. Unique characteristics of the department are a special team focusing on innovations within teaching methods, its strong involvement in the transdisciplinary sustainability research theme and professional consultancy for public partners.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Education
  • Behaviour and society
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3985



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584CB, Utrecht

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