The Institute for European Studies (IES) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) seeks a PhD researcher working, as part of the research cluster on Environment and Sustainable Development, on a project on the EU’s external energy policy funded by the Research Foundation—Flanders FWO. The project is to assess and explain varying levels of integration of the key policy objectives of decarbonisation and security of supply into the European Union’s external energy policy toward three key gas-supplying countries (Russia, Norway, Algeria or Azerbaijan). 

The deadline for applications is 8 March 2019 and the expected start date May 2019 (or as soon as possible thereafter).

The successful candidate is expected to develop the project under the supervision of Profs. Sebastian Oberthür (VUB), Thijs Van de Graaf and Claire Dupont (both Ghent University).


The successful applicant must:

  • Hold a master’s degree with excellent study in political science/international relations (or equivalent); 
  • Have a good understanding of European (climate/energy) governance and/or EU external relations and a strong interest in their analysis;
  • Be fluent in English (written and spoken);
  • Be able to work harmoniously in a multicultural environment;

Some prior knowledge of the empirical field of study will be an asset.

Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.


We offer employment as a full time doctoral researcher. 

Contract: full-time research grant for one year, renewable on an annual basis for a maximum of four years. Extension of the contract is subject to the agreement of the doctoral committee. Remuneration is at the level of a full-time research assistant at a Flemish of approximately 2.000 euros depending of personal situation, and includes contributions for social security. Secondary employment is not allowed. 

Successful candidates are expected to base themselves in Brussels to work at the IES premises. Office space and equipment will be provided along with a budget for travelling and other research-related expenses.

The IES is committed to creating and supporting a diverse work environment and is an equal opportunity employer.

Application and selection

The PhD candidate will be selected on the basis of her/his expertise, work experience and qualifications. The following documents are to be attached as a single PDF to an email sent to (subject heading: PhD Call FWO) 

  • completed application form (form can be downloaded here)
  • a one-page motivation letter explaining the candidate’s interest in pursuing a PhD on the chosen topic
  • curriculum vitae listing all academic qualifications, relevant research experience and previous publications
  • brief note (max. 4 pages/1500 words) discussing the relationship between the two goals of security of supply and decarbonisation and how to jointly assess the achievement of these goals in the EU’s external energy/gas relations; 
  • any other writing sample the candidate may wish to share;
  • the contact details of at least two references
  • copy of the highest obtained diploma; and
  • transcript of academic grades.

The deadline for applications is 8 March 2019 (for the post to be taken up as of 1 May or as early as possible thereafter). Short-listed candidates will be informed in the course of March and interviews with top-listed candidates are expected to take place soon thereafter.

Further information

For more information about the facilities and benefits of employment at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, please visit under the heading ‘future employees’.

For more information on pursuing a PhD at the VUB, please visit the website of the Central PhD Office:

For more information on the Institute for European Studies, please visit

For more information on the Environment and Sustainable Development cluster at the IES, please visit

For queries about this vacancy, please email Prof. Sebastian Oberthür at