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PhD in Computational Models of Human Language Processing

Deadline: Monday 7 June 2021
Vacancy details of PhD in Computational Models of Human Language Processing
Publication date 21 May 2021
Closing date 7 June 2021
Level of education Master's degree
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month
Vacancy number 21-366

The PhD position is part of the NWO-Gravitation research project Language In Interaction, with additional funding provided by the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation.

The Language in Interaction project brings together 70 researchers from eight universities and one research institute within the Netherlands to study human language. Language is the most powerful communication system that evolution has produced. It is the basis of culture and social life. It comes in many forms (> 6000 languages today). At the same time it is deeply rooted in the neurobiology of the human brain. The overarching quest of the project is to account for, and understand, the balance between universality and variability at all relevant levels of the language system and the interplay with different cognitive systems, such as memory, action, and cognitive control.

PhD project: You will work within one of the five teams that make up Language in Interaction, in particular “Big Question 1: The nature of the mental lexicon: How to bridge neurobiology and psycholinguistic theory by computational modelling?”. Your goal is to develop a series of computational models of the mental lexicon (including semantic, morphological and compositional information), and to evaluate the cognitive plausibility of these models (by deriving and testing prediction about brain imaging data).

What are you going to do?

You will be expected to contribute to the project and:

  • to complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years; 
  • to present research results regularly at international workshops and conferences, and to publish them in conference proceedings and journals;
  • to collaborate with researchers in other relevant sections of ILLC;
  • to participate in and to contribute to the organisation of research activities and events at the Institute, such as conferences, workshops and colloquia.

All PhD candidates at the ILLC are furthermore expected to make a small contribution to the institute’s educational mission, e.g., by working as teaching assistants for courses in their area of expertise and by assisting with the supervision of student research projects.

What do we require

  • a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline, such as brain and cognitive sciences, linguistics or artificial intelligence.
  • technical skills and the scientific interest to conduct cutting-edge research at the intersection of natural language processing, linguistics and cognitive neuroscience;
  • an excellent academic track record;
  • experience with programming and computational experimentation;
  • a serious interest in pursuing fundamental research;
  • good writing and presentation skills;
  • good social and organisational skills;
  • full professional proficiency in spoken and written English.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of four years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students. 

The salary will be €2,395 to €3,061 (scale P) gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Preferred starting date is 1 July 2021.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.

About us

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is a research institute at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in which researchers from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities collaborate. Its 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, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, natural language processing, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, music cognition, and philosophy.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 7 June 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include the following information (in one single pdf file):

  • a cover letter, including a description of your research interests and an explanation for why you are applying for this position (at most two pages);
  • a detailed curriculum vitae (CV);
  • a list of all Master-level modules you have taken, with an official transcript of grades;
  • a link to a writing sample available online, such as a Master’s thesis, a term paper, or a publication (in case of joint authorship, please clearly indicate your own contribution);
  • the names, affiliations, and email addresses of two or (at most) three people we can contact for letters of reference for you.

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

Only applications that conform to these instructions are ensured full consideration by the search committee. In particular, please do not submit more than one file.


Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.