Universiteit van Amsterdam

PhD candidate in Experimental Semantics of Quantifiers at the Faculty of Humanities

Deadline: Sunday 19 November 2017
Publication date
24 October 2017
Level of education
Master's degree
Salary indication
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month
Closing date
19 November 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is looking for an excellent PhD candidate in the areas of Experimental Semantics within the project 'Cognitive Semantics and Quantities', CoSaQ. This is a 5-year project (2017-2021) funded by the European Research Council, and led by Principal Investigator (PI) Dr Jakub Szymanik.

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation is a renowned research institute at the University of Amsterdam, in which researchers from the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science collaborate. The research carried out at Humanities forms one of the six research schools within this faculty. ILLC’s central research area is the study of fundamental principles of encoding, transmission and comprehension of information. Research at ILLC is interdisciplinary, and aims at bringing together insights from various disciplines concerned with information and information processing, such as logic, philosophy, linguistics, musicology, mathematics, computer science, artificial intelligence and cognitive science. 

Project description

The PhD candidate will work within the subproject 'Experimental study of quantifiers' and will have the PI Jakub Szymanik as the main supervisor. The main task of the PhD candidate will be to empirically evaluate logical models of quantifier processing. The starting point will be the recent debate between various approaches to quantifier processing. Within this literature there are two competing theories of quantifier processing: cognitive theory based on ANS and computational theory based on step-by-step processing. However, the approximation and precise verification strategies are just two extremes. Subjects are using multiple strategies in different proportions in different contexts. In this subproject we will conduct experiments manipulating the factors responsible for triggering certain strategies. The subproject will last for the last four years of the CoSaQ project (2018-2021), and the candidate will be fully funded.

The PhD candidate is expected to:

  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • present intermediate research results at international workshops and conferences;
  • deliver a number of publications, also in cooperation with the PI and the other project members.

The PhD candidate is also expected to help with all the organizational tasks connected to the project, including the:

  • organization and attendance of a regular CoSaQ project seminar;
  • organization of a major CoSaQ Conference in year 5 of the CoSaQ project;
  • setup and maintenance of the interactive project web site.

The candidate will have completed an MA or MSc in Psycholinguistics or Cognitive Science, and will have demonstrable competence in experimental methods (online experiments, eye-tracking, EEG), statistics and data analysis, computational cognitive modeling, and semantics. Her/his exam records, thesis, and writing sample will be those of a promising graduate student ready to undertake excellent research.


  • MA or MSc in Psycholinguistics or Cognitive Science;
  • demonstrable competence in experimental methods and statistics;
  • background in computational cognitive modeling;
  • background in semantics and logic;
  • exam records, thesis, and writing sample providing evidence of a promising graduate student ready to undertake excellent research;
  • strong willingness to help with all the organizational duties connected to the CoSaQ project;
  • strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • excellent command of English.

Further information

For more information on the CoSaQ research project please contact:


The selected PhD candidate will be appointed full-time (38 hours per week) for a maximum period of four years at the Department of Linguistics of the Faculty of Humanities. The research will be carried out under the aegis of ILLC. The appointment is initially for a period of 12 months; contingent on satisfactory performance it will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, and should lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. It should also lead to at least three papers published/forthcoming in excellent peer-reviewed journals of semantic and/or cognitive science. The gross monthly salary (on a full-time basis) will range from €2,222 during the first year to €2,840 during the fourth year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) for Dutch Universities.

Job application

Applications should include the following information in one single pdf file, named using your surname and 'phd' as file name, e.g.: Smith-phd.pdf:

  • a 1-page cover letter motivating why you are applying and how you can contribute to the CoSaQ project in terms of (a) publications, (b) cooperative research, and (c) help with the organization;
  • CV, including (a) transcripts of all exam grades at MA/MSc level; (b) names and e-mail addresses of at least two referees to be contacted informally for references;
  • a 1-page summary of the MA or MSc thesis;
  • one writing sample.

Please submit your application to solliciteren2017-FGW@uva.nl no later than 19 November 2017.

Only complete applications submitted to this email address will be considered.

Please state vacancy number 17-520 in the subject line of your application. The subject of the email message and the attachment must consist of the text 'CoSaQ + applicant's last name-phd'.

Candidates will be interviewed in November\December. Skype interviews are possible.

The preferred starting date is 1 February 2018. Short delays can be negotiated in case of need. #LI-DNP