PhD Social processes of sociotechnical transitions experiments (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

The University of Groningen has an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 35,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, we are truly an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering harbours a kaleidoscope of disciplines and research strengths. Our programmes in research and education range from nanomaterials and biomachinery to astronomy, from mathematics to pharmacy, from neurosciences to computer science, and from molecular and evolutionary biology to marine biology.

The Energy and Sustainability Research Institute (ESRIG) is a highly multidisciplinary institute performing research on energy and sustainability. Activities include experimental and model studies as well as studies into the societal interaction with scientific knowledge. The research of the small Geo-Energy group within the ESRIG is focusing on the safe, sustainable utilization of the subsurface for energy production and storage as well as carbon utilization and storage.

Job description

Project: Social processes of sociotechnical transitions experiments – the case of island energy

The high level aim of this project is to advance understanding of actor-level processes in energy transitions and particularly associated experimentation, drawing on social theory. Using a comparative design, the more specific aim is to understand the micro-dynamics of differing institutionalization and structuration processes: why energy technology experiments take place and are sustained in some contexts and not in others. The empirical cases involve islands and tidal/marine energy in the British Channel Islands and in the Netherlands. The rationale is to support understanding of energy decarbonization processes at the micro-scale. The work builds on the small but developing literature that seeks to understand connections between actor-level and larger processes in transitions, as well as the role of geography in transitions, including the roles of periphery and energy security concerns. The research design is that of qualitative case studies and the data will also be primarily qualitative.

Responsibilities and tasks:

• to conduct research that results in a dissertation and is in line with the objectives and requirements of the project
• to organize and execute the data collection and analysis
• to publish the results of the research in international scientific journals relevant to the sociotechnical transitions community
• to present the research findings to fellow scientists and collaborate as appropriate
• to provide a limited number of educational activities relating to the work of IREES, particularly relating to science and society.


• have a (Research) Master's degree in an environmental social science discipline or topic, ideally drawing on social theory
• have a good academic track record
• be enthusiastic about writing international publications and a PhD dissertation
• have excellent academic English writing skills
• have substantial experience of qualitative research designs
• have good social and communication skills and are willing to work with other team members
• have good organizational skills and the motivation to organize and realize data collection
• have demonstrable competences in conceptual and theoretical capacity, presenting, planning, organizing, and monitoring
• have an interest in contributing to environmental social science teaching.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

The successful candidate will be offered, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 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 an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a full-time (1.0 FTE) position for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; extension of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year so 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 the candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Candidates are expected to start preferably Spring/early Summer 2023

Job Application

To be successful the application has to include:

• cover letter
• curriculum vitae
• transcripts from you Bachelor’s and Master’s degree
• contact details of three potential referees
• any other relevant documents (e.g., short research statement, awards, publications, language certifications).

You can submit your application until 15 January 11:59pm / before 16 January 2023 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

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 Paul Upham, Associate Professor

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 222784

Digital application form