Permanent employment
Doctorate/PhD (EQF 8)
Apply before:
Hours p/wk:


Post-doctoral researcher in computational (social) science (1.0 FTE: 31 months)


The Institute of Security and Global Affairs and the Institute of Public Administration are looking for a post-doctoral researcher with expertise in natural language processing for a period of 31 months at 1.0 FTE. The postdoctoral researcher will contribute to two research projects. The NWO Open Competition project ‘Unravelling the Rule of Law: A Machine Learning Approach’ aims to understand the meaning of the rule of law concept and track it over time. The NWO VIDI-project ‘Making Finance Sustainable? A Comparative Perspective on the Politics of Investment’ interrogates the institutional and regulatory conditions for sustainable financial systems in Europe.


The role of the postdoctoral researcher is to employ natural language processing models (e.g., word embeddings and topic models) to find the meaning, patterns, and themes within a large volume of text data. The candidates should have vast experience with applied research employing natural language processing models and machine learning more broadly and, ideally, should demonstrate a solid social science background or interest in socially relevant problems.


Key responsibilities

  • Conduct independent and collaborative research on the concepts of rule of law and sustainable finance by using natural language processing models, in particular word embedding and topic models.
  • Disseminate the project’s findings as co-author in high-ranking international peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations, policy reports, and other relevant formats.
  • Collaborate in presenting the projects to key stakeholders, academics and policymakers/practitioners working on occupational pensions.
  • Work within an interdisciplinary team of colleagues.

Selection criteria

  • A PhD in political science, public administration, economics, sociology, computer science, or any other relevant discipline.
  • Specific (applied) research expertise in natural language processing; background in computational social sciences (a mix of computer and social sciences skills) is considered as an asset.
  • Excellent programming skills in Python and/or R.
  • Outstanding research qualities demonstrated through an established track record of publications in peer-reviewed, international journals.
  • Demonstration of open science output, such as open-source code and/or data.
  • Experience participating in interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary research.
  • Demonstrated ability to work in an independent manner.
  • A ‘can-do’ mentality and a team-player spirit.
  • Excellent command of English.

Our organisation
Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. It is the oldest university in the Netherlands, founded in February 1575, and currently ranks in the top 100 of most international rankings. The University has approximately 23,000 students and 4,000 staff members.


The Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, located in The Hague – the International City of Peace and Justice – offers a range of other programs focused on international relations, security, international law and international organization. It also hosts the Leiden University College (LUC), an international honors college of Leiden University situated The Hague. Firmly rooted in the academic tradition, the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs provides an inspiring and challenging education and research environment, with a strong interdisciplinary character and international orientation; it is a meeting place for students, scholars and professionals, a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship.


Institute of Security and Global Affairs
The Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) is a leading research and education institute, focusing on the most pressing local, national, European and global security issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. It currently hosts more than 120 academic and support staff members and offers the BA in Security and Safety Studies, the MSc in Crisis and Security Management, the Advanced MSc in International Relations and Diplomacy, the executive MSc in Cyber Security as well as a variety of innovative teaching offerings in the professional and MOOC fields. In addition, ISGA runs popular Minor Programmes in Global Affairs, Security, Safety and Justice and Intelligence Studies as well as the Faculty’s Honour Programme in Security and Global Affairs.


ISGA operates from The Hague, the third major city of the Netherlands, center of national governance and International City of Peace and Justice and advances both theory-informed and policy-oriented research. For further information, visit https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/governance-and-global-affairs/institute-of-security-and-global-affairs


Institute of Public Administration
Within the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, the Institute of Public Administration is one of the largest and oldest institutes of academic research and teaching in the field of public administration in the Netherlands and is located in The Hague. The institute combines a solid international academic reputation with a central positioning among the international, national, regional and local governance institutions of The Hague. It employs around 80 people and provides education to 1200 students.


Terms and conditions
The position starts on December 1, 2023 at the latest. The salary ranges from € 2.960,- to € 4.670,- gross per month (pay scale 10 in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). The candidate will initially be appointed for 1 year and will be extended for another 19 months, depending upon research performance.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.


Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.


Inquiries about the content of the research can be made to Dr Natascha van der Zwan (n.a.j.van.der.zwan@fgga.leidenuniv.nl) or Dr Jaroslaw Kantorowicz (j.j.kantorowicz@fgga.leidenuniv.nl)


Please submit online your application no later than 14 September 2023 via the blue button in our application system. Interviews are scheduled to take place in September 2023.


Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents in PDF format, quoting the vacancy number:

  • Motivation letter,
  • Curriculum vitae including a list of publications,
  • A sample publication,
  • The names and addresses of three potential referees. Letters of recommendation are not needed at this stage of the processes.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.