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VACANCY for a PhD researcher in migration policy research

  • March 4, 2021

Vacancy: PhD researcher for the Migration, Diversity and Justice Centre – Brussels School of Governance – Vrije Universiteit Brussel (100%)

The Migration, Diversity and Justice (MDJ) centre at the Brussels School of Governance, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), is calling for applications for one full-time doctoral researcher in the field of migration policy research. Research at the MDJ centre explores the ways in which Europe and the wider world address today’s policy challenges concerning migration and immigrant integration, justice and home affairs, equality and diversity. Prospective PhD candidates are hereby invited to submit project proposals on the themes described below. The deadline for submitting applications is 30 April 2021.

PhD Research on Migration, Diversity and Justice 

The candidate for the PhD position may develop a research proposal for one of the following two research lines of the MDJ centre: (1) European Migration and Asylum Policies and Politics; or (2) EU-African Cooperation in the Field of Migration.  

Research Line 1: EU Migration and Asylum Policies 
The European Union (EU) has sought to reform its asylum and migration policies. In September 2020, the European Commission published a ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’ containing a range of legislative proposals to develop a pan-European migration management system. This Pact should end yearlong conflicts over the fair distribution of migrants within Europe. Among others, the Commission calls no longer for a mandatory relocation of asylum seekers. If member states oppose relocation, they may engage more in returning those migrants found ineligible to stay in the EU.  
The potential PhD candidate may develop a research proposal that deals with the evolution or implementation of EU asylum and migration policies. Research proposals may focus on particular aspects of  this field of research, such as the human rights’ protection of migrants or the negotiation dynamics among EU institutions and member states. Proposals may be informed by a particular theoretical lens, such as Europeanisation or institutionalism. 

Research Line 2: EU-African cooperation on migration 
Africa has become a focal point in the efforts of European Union actors to better ‘manage’ migration into Europe. The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (EUTF for Africa) has become a powerful instrument in terms of funding and development assistance. Yet, the EU does not negotiate in a vacuum. Partner countries have their own interests and ideas in the field of migration. 

The potential PhD candidate may develop a research proposal on EU-African cooperation in the field of migration, ideally with a focus on the agency and behaviour of African actors. We explicitly welcome research proposals that contribute to a comparative understanding of migration policy-making in (West-)Africa. 

The successful candidate is required to:
•    Hold a Master’s degree in political science, law, international relations, public policy, sociology or relevant social sciences with excellent study results.
•    Be fluent and have excellent communications skills in English. Knowledge of additional languages is an asset, especially French for research line 2.
•    Know and understand the relevant academic literature.
•    Have experience in conducting document analysis and research interviews. 
•    Have the ability to communicate with stakeholders, among others high-level officials.
•    Be flexible, self-motivated and perseverant. 
•    Knowledge of (West-)Africa(n politics) is an asset for research line 2.

The selected candidate will be employed as a full-time doctoral researcher. The PhD degree will be awarded in political science. For more information about facilities and employment benefits at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, please visit under the heading ‘future employees’.

Contract: full-time research grant for one year, renewable on an annual basis for a maximum of four years. Extension of the contract is subject to the agreement of the doctoral committee. Remuneration is at the level of a full-time research assistant at a Flemish university (i.e. approximately € 2.000 net per month) and includes contributions for social security. Secondary employment is not allowed. 

The successful candidate is expected to work at the VUB premises in Brussels. Office space and equipment will be provided along with a budget for travelling and other research-related expenses. Depending on the circumstances of the global health crisis, you may be expected to work from home.

How to apply
The PhD candidate will be selected on the basis of the quality of the project proposal, her/his expertise, work experience and qualifications. The following application documents are to be consolidated into a single PDF file sent by email to (subject heading: ‘Migration, Diversity and Justice PhD call’).
•    A one-page motivation letter explaining the candidate’s interest in pursuing a PhD on the chosen topic
•    A curriculum vitae listing all academic qualifications, relevant research experience and previous publications (if any)
•    A project proposal featuring a literature review, a research question and proposed hypotheses/assumptions, a methodological outline and an indicative work plan, condensed into no more than 3,000 words
•    A copy of the highest obtained diploma and transcript of academic grades
•    A copy of a publication (master thesis, academic report or a paper of a university class)
•    Candidates must also provide the names and contact details of two referees. Referees are requested to send their letters of recommendation duly signed  directly to by 30 April 2021

The deadline for applications is 30 April 2021. Short-listed candidates will be informed by early June. Interviews  are expected to take place in the weeks thereafter. Interviews will be organised online. The successful candidate can start as of 1 October or as soon as possible thereafter.

Further information

For further inquiries, please contact 

The IES is committed to creating and supporting a diverse work environment and is an equal opportunity employer. 
Do you need a reasonable accommodation? Please inform us with your application: