PhD ERC project The International Right to Housing and National Legal Discourse


Faculty of Law


University of Groningen

Since its founding in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. We encourage the 36.000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Among the best research universities in Europe, we join forces with prestigious partner universities and networks around the world, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Law ( is a modern (inter)nationally-oriented Faculty with a broad and classic profile. While it has a four hundred year old tradition, it keeps renewing its teaching continually to educate broadly-oriented and skilled lawyers.

The Faculty’s research to a large extent transcends legal fields and is multidisciplinary in nature. With nearly 5000 students and nearly 400 staff members, the Faculty is a mid-sized Faculty in the University of Groningen.

European Research Council project
This position is part of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project “The Impact of the International Right to Housing on National Legal Discourse: Using Data Science Techniques to Analyse Eviction Litigation (EVICT)”. The project is led by Prof. Michel Vols, and positioned within the Department of Legal Methods.

This ERC project aims to:

A. conceptualise the international right to housing by analysing this right as a loosely associated network of housing rights, as codified in or implied by international and European treaties, case law, and the decisions of international and European official bodies and committees

B. determine and explain the impact, or lack thereof, of the international right to housing on national legal and judicial discourses by collecting and analysing data on citations of international case law used in national case law, extracting and assessing data on arguments used by parties/courts in case law, and examining the power of particular normative arguments used in the data

C. identify and explain the predictors of judicial decision-making in national eviction litigation by applying Machine Learning techniques, and assess whether these predictors can be linked to the right to housing discourse

D. explore how data science methods used in EVICT can be used in other areas of the legal discipline

E. share the collected corpora of legal data on an open access data hub (

Job description

The position concerns PhD research regarding the integration of international housing rights into modern national (European) housing systems. The PhD researcher (with a four-year appointment) will focus on determining and explaining the impact, or lack thereof, of the international right to housing on national legal and judicial discourses on the peak court level in, inter alia, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.

Comparative legal research and citation analysis
The PhD researcher will – in an interdisciplinary team of other researchers – conduct comparative legal research to the impact of international and European housing rights in national jurisdictions, and systematically collect and analyse the case law of peak courts from United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands in greater detail. Together with other team members (including data scientists) citation data will be collected to analyse and visualise the dialogue between national and international courts. The PhD researcher will identify whether and how the various national peak courts take the international right to housing into account in eviction litigation. The researcher will examine whether and how the courts deal with the various normative arguments laid down in theories concerning the distinction between private and public law, property and contract law, horizontal effects of human rights and the interaction between national and international law.

The researcher is expected to successfully undertake research on the project. The researcher is expected to write a dissertation either in the form of a monograph or in the form of peer reviewed articles. The researcher should attend, present at, and organise conferences and workshops; and undertake (limited) teaching activities related to the ERC project.

Department of Legal Methods
The PhD researcher will also be expected to participate actively in the Department of Legal Methods, a lively legal multidisciplinary department at the faculty of law.

PhD training programme
The PhD researcher will participate in the Faculty training programme for PhD students organised by the Groningen Graduate School of Law (GGSL): This training programme enables the PhD researcher to participate in workshops and seminars that aligns with the research interest.

The PhD research will be supervised by Michel Vols (Professor at the Department of Legal Methods), Björn Hoops (Professor at the Department of Private Law) and Michelle Bruijn (Assistant Professor at the Department of Legal Methods).

A project synopsis can be found online ( For the full version contact Prof. Michel Vols by email.


● LLM (or being in the final phase of an LLM) with excellent marks
● interested in and experience with legal scientific research and methodology, including comparative legal research; an interest in data science would be an advantage
● interested in and experience with human rights and the interaction between private and public law, and international and national law
● highly proficient in spoken and written English
● a working knowledge of Dutch, Spanish and/or other languages will be considered an advantage, but is not essential
● demonstrable competences: planning and organising, conceptual capacity, presenting, monitoring, flexibility, independent, analytical skills.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 18 maanden.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

● a salary of € 2,434 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,111 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
● a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
● 232 holiday hours per calendar year (with a 100% position)
● participation in a pension scheme for employees
● a full-time position (1.0 FTE/100%) for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of eighteen months with the option of renewal for another thirty months; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress to indicate that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and you will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Law. The research project also has its own funds for travel and accommodation.

The starting date of the position is 1 January 2022, or as soon as possible before that date

Job Application

If you are interested and you meet our qualification criteria, please include within your application:

● motivation letter
● curriculum vitae
● list of grades from your Master’s degree, including the percentile in which you rank in your studies (if available)
● list of publications (if applicable)
● names and contact details of three referees, who will be contacted after the interview stage.

You can submit your application until 17 October 11:59pm / before 18 October 2021 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Promising candidates will be invited for an interview which will take place at the end of October 2021. It will also be possible to interview remotely.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. Michel Vols

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 221544E

Digital application form