PhD position in Natural Language Processing/Conversational AI (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Arts


University of Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 36,000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study and career paths. The University of Groningen is an international center of knowledge: it belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is allied with prestigious partner universities and networks worldwide.

The Graduate School for the Humanities is the home to all PhD candidates of the Faculty of Arts (circa 250), and is committed to creating and maintaining excellent conditions for PhD research in all fields of the humanities. In addition to organizing local courses, the GSH works closely with 16 national research schools which offer regular courses and seminars by national and international top researchers.

The Centre for Language and Cognition of the University of Groningen (CLCG) is the institutional home for all the linguistic research carried out within the Faculty of Arts. The Computational Linguistics group of CLCG provides a vibrant working atmosphere with state-of-the-art research in all major areas of Natural Language Processing.

Job description

Applications are invited for a PhD candidate in the area of Natural Language processing and Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This position is embedded in the soon-to-be-launched project “Low-Resource Chat-based Conversational Intelligence (LESSEN)”, which is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The project’s consortium brings together a diverse set of academic researchers and industrial stakeholders from across The Netherlands. Together, the project partners will develop, implement and evaluate state-of-the-art safe and transparent chat-based conversational AI agents based on state-of-the-art neural architectures (
Specifically, the selected PhD candidate will work on multilinguality-related challenges and opportunities, with the goal of enabling the development of conversational agents under data scarcity conditions. Besides enabling knowledge sharing among high- and low-resource languages and language variants, the project aims at empowering chatbots to handle code-switching utterances, which are common in many communities. Possible approaches to achieve this include, among others: (i) applying advanced cross-lingual transfer techniques to different components of a low-resource conversational agent, and (ii) building and evaluating large multilingual language models specialized on conversational data.

This PhD project offers a unique opportunity to work in an international research environment while acquiring valuable teaching experience: the PhD candidate is expected to conduct 0.1 fte teaching per year, during the second, third and fourth year of their appointment.


We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic student with a Master degree in computational linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science, information science, or related area.

Machine learning skills are mandatory; experience with training and/or designing neural networks for language processing tasks is strongly desired; experience in conversational AI is a plus. Furthermore an excellent knowledge of English and good academic writing skills are essential.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

In accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, the University of Groningen offers you:

- a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month in the final year, based on a full-time position
- a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
- an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance.

This 1.0 FTE appointment is temporary, for a specified period of four years. The candidate will first be appointed for twelve months. After six months, an assessment will take place of the candidate’s results and the progress of the PhD project, in order to decide whether employment will be continued.
You will be enrolled in the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen. The GSH offers the organizational infrastructure within which PhD candidates participate in advanced training and supervised research:

You will be carrying out your research in the context of the Computational Linguistics group of the CLCG research institute.

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

1. a motivation letter in which you describe why you wish to do this research, and why you are the right person to do it
2. a full curriculum vitae, demonstrating academic excellence, including publications and presentations (if applicable)
3. certified copies of your Bachelor and Master degrees and grades belonging to each course unit of your bachelor and master degrees (in case of an on-going Master degree, please include your current grades and a certifying letter from your institution or thesis supervisor);
4. contact details of two academic referees.

You can submit your application (in English) until 2 October 11.59 pm / before 3 October 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Start date: 1st of January 2023.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:[…]/

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:

Dr. A. Bisazza (for questions regarding the project)

L.L.M. Rouweler (for questions about the submission procedure)

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 222544

Digital application form