PhD position Spatial and Institutional Design of high quality places


Faculty of Spatial Sciences


University of Groningen

Job description

Environmental quality is one of the central concepts in the new environmental law (Omgevingswet) in the Netherlands, which is expected to come into force in 2023. However, what environmental quality entails, or how it is created is hard to define precisely, it remains a fuzzy concept. We do know that both spatial and institutional dimensions affect the design, and as such the quality of spaces and places. This PhD research project, funded via the Sectorplan Techniek 2, aims to unravel the mutual relationships between the ‘institutional’ and ‘spatial’ in the design and creation of high quality spaces based on a multiple case-study approach.

As part of the PhD research you are expected to develop your own research plan in consultation with the supervising team consisting of Terry van Dijk and dr ir Annet Kempenaar. This allows you to select cases that align with your own interests and ideas as long as they fit within the focus of the research project. You will be working in an international research environment and will be stimulated develop collaborations with design scholars in other faculties of the University of Groningen and the Netherlands. During your PhD you will have the opportunity to participate in courses, seminars and summer schools as part of your Individual Supervision and Training Plan. Furthermore, you will be able to acquire valuable teaching experience, as you will be expected to spend around 15% of your time on teaching.

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen has an opening for a PhD in Spatial and Institutional Design.

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences consists of approximately 100 members of staff, 100 PhD students and around 1000 undergraduate students. The Faculty offers a vibrant academic environment with an international staff and extensive experience in working within international research projects. We focus on high quality teaching and research in the fields of social and economic geography, demography, and spatial planning. With a Faculty slogan of ‘making places better together’ and an overarching research theme of 'towards Wellbeing, Innovation and Spatial Transformation' (tWIST), it is our mission to produce research which is world-leading, distinctive, and policy-relevant. With two bachelor and seven master programmes, we provide a wide range of courses within the wider field of spatial sciences.

The Faculty consists of four departments: Cultural Geography, Demography, Economic Geography, and Planning & Environment. The PhD position is positioned within the department Planning and Environment. Research at the Department of Planning & Environment focuses on issues of institutional design for purposeful interventions within the human environment. As part of the research program on Spatial and Institutional Design we are looking for a highly motivated candidate for a PhD research project into the spatial and institutional dimensions of landscape transformations.


- a Master or Research Master degree in Urban Planning and Design, Landscape Architecture, Regional Planning, Policy Design, or a related planning or design field
- interest in the interdependency between institutional and spatial design in the creation of high quality places and spaces
- a strong academic record and experience in qualitative research methods
- as excellent command of English (both oral and written) and good academic writing skills.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you in accordance with 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,
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
• minimum of 29 holidays and additional 12 holidays in case of full-time employment.
This full-time appointment as a PhD researcher is temporary for four years. You will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining part of the project.

For more detailed information about working conditions and working for the University of Groningen, please check:
Starting date: April/May 2023.

Job Application

Please submit your application until 15 February 2023 23:59 h / before 16 February 2023 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Applications should include:

1. letter of application
2. a curriculum vitae
3. the names of two referees.
Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be taken into consideration.

The selection interviews will take place in the beginning of March 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:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. ir. Annet Kempenaar

In your application, please always include the job opening ID V23.0047

Digital application form