Vacancy: PhD researcher on Migration and Diversity - Institute for European Studies – Vrije Universiteit Brussel (100%)

The Institute for European Studies (IES) , a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is calling for applications for one full-time doctoral researcher in the field of migration and diversity policy research. Prospective PhD candidates are hereby invited to submit project proposals on the themes described below. Research at the IES explores the ways in which Europe and the wider world address today’s policy challenges.The deadline for submitting applications is 15 May 2019.

PhD Research on Migration and Diversity 

The ‘Migration, Diversity and Justice’ (MDJ) cluster of the Institute for European Studies focuses on migration, immigrant integration, justice and home affairs as well as equality and diversity policies (from the local level to the EU and UN). The candidate for the PhD position should develop a research proposal for one of the following two researchs lines of the MDJ cluster: (1) European Anti-Discrimination Policies and Politics; or (2) EU-West African Cooperation in the Field of Migration.  

Research Line 1: European Anti-discrimination Policies and Politics 

Since 2000, the European Union has developed anti-discrimination policies. European cooperation in this field originally raised high hopes among racial equality activists. A few years later, researchers warned however that the new anti-discrimination legislation in Europe was poorly implemented at the national level. Times have changed since the adoption of the European Racial Equality Directive. The participation of right-wing populist parties in governments has become the new ‘normal’ and anti-racist activism, particularly from black and Muslim organizations, has considerably increased. These activists of the ‘second anti-racist wave’ have lost hope in anti-discrimination legislation, and its individual approach. Instead, they demand structural reforms and the ‘decolonization of minds and societal structures’. In sum, anti-discriminsation policies are increasingly polarized. 

The potential PhD candidate should develop a research proposal that deals with the evolution of European and member states’ anti-racist activism and/or anti-discrimination policies since 2000. 

Research Line 2: EU-African cooperation on migration 

Africa has become a focal point in the efforts of European Union actors to better ‘manage’ migration into Europe. Worth over 3.3 billion euro, a new ‘European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa’ (EUTF) has become a powerful instrument in terms of funding and development assistance. Scholars have been following with interest the EU’s external migration governance. Only more recently however, researchers have made an effort to grasp the perspective and ‘agency’ of African migrant-sending and transit countries. This is of central importance. The EU does not negotiate in a vacuum. Partner countries have their own interests and ideas in the field of migration.

The potential PhD candidate should develop a research proposal on EU-African cooperation in the field of migration, ideally with a focus on the agency and behaviour of African actors. We explicitly welcome research proposals that contribute to a comparative understanding of migration policy-making in West-Africa. 


The successful candidate is required to:

  • Hold a Master’s degree in political science, law, international relations, public policy, sociology or relevant social sciences with excellent study results.
  • Be fluent and have excellent communications skills in English. Knowledge of additional languages is an asset.
  • Have a thorough knowledge of the relevant academic literature.
  • Have experience in conducting document analysis and research interviews. 
  • Have the ability to communicate with stakeholders, among others high-level officials.
  • Be flexible, self-motivated and perseverant. 
  • Knowledge of and travel experience in (West-) Africa are an asset for research theme 2.

Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.


We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher. The PhD degree will be awarded in political science. 

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 university (i.e. approximately € 2.000 net per month) and includes contributions for social security. Secondary employment is not allowed. 

The PhD student will be guided by Prof. Ilke Adam and Prof. Florian Trauner. Successful candidates are expected to work at the IES premises in Brussels. Office space and equipment will be provided along with a budget for travelling and other research-related expenses.

The PhD researcher will be expected to devote the majority of his/her time to research, with contribution expected for occasional teaching activities, to event organisation and to the overall development of the institute. The researcher will prepare papers, attend conferences and produce research publications as she/he carries out the PhD.

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

How to apply

The PhD candidate will be selected on the basis of the quality of the project proposal, her/his expertise, work experience and qualifications. The following application documents are to be consolidated into a single PDF file sent by e-mail to (subject heading: ‘Migration and Diversity PhD call’).

  • 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
  • A curriculum vitae listing all academic qualifications, relevant research experience and previous publications
  • A project proposal featuring a literature review, a research question and proposed hypotheses, a methodological outline and an indicative planning, condensed into no more than 3,000 words.
  • A copy of the highest diploma obtained and transcript of academic grades
  • The contact details of at least two references
  • A copy of a publication (master thesis, academic report or article)

The deadline for applications is 15 May 2019. Short-listed candidates will be informed by early June and interviews with top-listed candidates are expected to take place in the weeks thereafter. The successful candidate is expected to start on 1 October or as soon as possible thereafter.

Further information

For more information about 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 MDJ cluster at the IES, please visit:

For queries about this vacancy, please e-mail Prof. Ilke Adam at (subject: PhD call 2019)