Postdoctoral researcher in Law

Faculty of law and Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Publication date
11 April 2017
Level of education
Salary indication
€3,427 to €4,691 gross per month, based on 38 hours per week
Closing date
28 May 2017
30 to 38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The postdoctoral researchers will work as part of a multidisciplinary team of legal scholars and communication scientists in the Personalised Communication project, led by Prof. Claes de Vreese and Prof. Natali Helberger. The goal of Personalised Communication is to understand the uses, effects and legal implications of algorithmically profiling and targeting users in the areas health (e.g. mHealth apps), politics (e.g. political micro targeting), news (e.g. personalised news recommendations) and commerce (e.g. behavioural targeting. The Personalised Communication team brings together communications scholars, data scientists, philosophers and legal scholars that together conduct interdisciplinary research into increasingly influential phenomenon. The Research Priority Area Personalised Communication is a joint initiative between the Institute for Information Law (IViR) and the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR).

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) is part of the Law Faculty of the University of Amsterdam, and for the past 25 years one of the leading centres in Europe and worldwide in research in Information Law. IViR is host to an international team of more than 35 researchers that conduct research for national and European funding organizations (NWO, DFG, ERC), European institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe), international organisations and national governments and regulatory authorities.

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research ASCoR is the research institute in Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. It is the largest research institute of its kind in Europe and is among the largest worldwide. More than 50 senior researchers are permanently associated with ASCoR, and its English-language PhD program has more than 35 students.

Project description

The researchers will be charged with performing legal research on the current and future regulation of profiling and targeting and the governance of algorithms from the perspective of data protection law, fundamental rights law, media and communications law and consumer law. He or she will work closely together with the communications scholars in the team, for example in conceptualising research questions and papers, by designing survey questions, and organising workshops and public events.

Given the shift from mass communication to personalised communication, new theoretical approaches are needed to advance existing legal concepts, regulatory solutions and policies, and novel questions are waiting to be addressed. What are the normative implications from a shift towards a data-driven economy and towards more personalised forms of communication between consumers/citizens on the one hand, and companies on the other? And how do we design data protection and consumer policies that strike the right balance between more personalised, more relevant communication and users’ autonomy, privacy, and right to equal treatment and impartial information?  How do we deal with potential risks to the exercise of fundamental rights, such as chilling effects from surveillance, the lack of intellectual privacy, or the pervasive manipulation of consumers’ autonomous choices? What legal implications arise from the impact of personalised recommendations for traditional goals of public policy, such as pluralism, democracy, equal chances to participate, informational self-determination? These are just some of the questions that are relevant for this research. The researcher will have an active role in co-identifying and conceptualising the research agenda for the project.

The Personalised Communication project has also a strong outreach ambition, and the researchers are expected to organize workshops, lectures and public debates and foster engagement with groups and stakeholders within and outside of the University. Responsibilities will also include the acquisition of grants and (limited) teaching and mentoring obligations.


The legal candidate should:

  • have a PhD in law, or equivalent degreehave proven expertise in the following fields: data protection law, fundamental rights, and/or media and communications law;
  • have good knowledge of current developments in information markets and technology;
  • have a creative mind and analytical intelligence;
  • have proven experience with working in a multidisciplinary team;
  • preferably have experience with writing grant applications and project proposals;
  • preferably have experience with organising workshops, lecture series, and similar events;
  • have strong communication skills;
  • have an excellent written and spoken command of English, as demonstrated by publications in English-language journals and presentations at international conferences.

Further information

The project description may be obtained from the:

Questions about the project content should be addressed to:

Questions about the application procedure and other general questions should be addressed to the:


The positions ideally start 1 September 2017, and are initially for 2 years (pending funding). Depending on your knowledge and experience, your monthly gross salary will range between €3,427 and €4,691, scale 11, based on a full-time appointment.

We offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

The deadline for applications is 28 May 2017 at 24:00 hours CET. Please state vacancy number 17-175 in the subject line of your application. To apply for this position, please send at least the following documents in English by e-mail to

  • a motivation letter. Please clearly indicate the position you apply for;
  • a curriculum vitae and publication list;
  • proof of your PhD degree. If you have not completed your degree at the time of application, please provide a statement from your supervisor confirming the expected date of completion of your degree;
  • an academic writing sample in English (e.g., journal article, PhD dissertation).

Please send all your documents in PDF format in one PDF file. Only complete applications will be considered. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

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