News and Events: Open Positions

PhD position in machine learning for uncertainty-aware and explainable models of natural language

Deadline: Sunday 21 August 2022
Faculty/Services: Faculty of Science
Educational level: Master
Function type: PhD position
Closing date: 21 August 2022
Vacancy number: 9921


The Probabilistic Language Learning group (Probabll) at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation of the University of Amsterdam invites application for a fully-funded, four-year PhD position in Machine Learning for Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Are you eager to work on context-aware, uncertainty-aware generative models of language, in order to develop concrete, high-level NLP technologies like machine translation, summarisation, dialogue, for interactive assistants? This position might be the one for you.

Specific lines of research for this project:

- Representing, quantifying, and using uncertainty in conditional language models and dialogue;

- Explainability methods for conditional language generation, in particular with long documents and contexts;

- Adaptable, multimodal translation and summarisation, responsive to constraints and user-specified preferences.

What are you going to do

​You will work alongside Probabll colleagues under the supervision of Dr. Wilker Aziz to investigate and improve generative models of translation and conversation in one or more of the directions discussed above. We will always put first the social and political impact of any technology we develop.

Tasks and responsibilities:

With our help and support, you will:

  • Innovate uncertainty-aware / explainable / adaptable language generation models;

  • Design, implement, and perform controlled experiments to verify research hypotheses and answer fundamental research questions;

  • Complete and defend your PhD thesis;

  • Become an active participant in the research community and collaborate within and outside the Probabll group;

  • Publish and present work regularly at international conferences, workshops, and journals;

  • Assist in teaching activities (labs / tutorials) and in supervising bachelor and master projects.

We care strongly about respecting work-life balance and contractual hours.

What do you have to offer

Your experience and profile:

  • A Master’s degree (completed or near completion) with a thesis in Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Computer Science, or similar relevant areas;

  • Serious interest in pursuing fundamental research with concrete applications;

  • A good background in Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Statistics;

  • Advanced programming skills;

  • Professional command of the English language;

  • A commitment to maintaining an inclusive, collaborative, diverse, and supportive work environment.

Knowledge, skills and experiences which are a plus (pre) are mentioned separately from the summary in a sentence.

Our offer

PhD position

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 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). The preferred starting date is 1st of October 2022. 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 gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2.541,- to € 3.247,- (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The UFO profile PhD Candidate and the Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands are applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;

  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;

  • a complete educational program for PhD students;

  • multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;

  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;

  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;

  • partly paid parental leave;

  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;

  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;

  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;

  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.

Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 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 ILLC is an interdisciplinary research institute where logicians, mathematicians, computer scientists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers collaborate. It offers an international research environment with world-class faculty in all of its areas of specialization. The institute is in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, renowned for its historic system of canals, its laid-back cosmopolitan atmosphere, and its excellent connections to the rest of Europe and the world.

The position is with Dr. Wilker Aziz, Assistant Professor in the Natural Language Processing and Digital Humanities unit of the ILLC and leader of the Probabll research group. Probabll’s research is concerned with learning to represent, understand, and generate linguistic data. Specific problems we are interested in include language modelling, machine translation, syntactic parsing, textual entailment, text classification, and question answering. We also develop techniques to approach general machine learning problems such as probabilistic inference, gradient and density estimation. Our research is at the intersection of disciplines such as statistics, machine learning, approximate inference, global optimisation, formal languages, and computational linguistics.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

  • Dr. Wilker Aziz, Assistant Professor (

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including 21 August 2022.

Applications should include the following information (all files besides your cv should be submitted in one single pdf file):

  • a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;

  • a letter of motivation;

    • no longer than 2 pages;

    • motivating your choice for this position;

    • indicating your preferred starting date and availability;

    • sketching out thoughts and ideas about the project (not a fully-detailed proposal).

  • a summary of, or a copy of, your Master’s thesis;

  • a copy of your Master’s and Bachelor’s transcript/diploma.

If your MSc thesis is not finished or not in English, submit a brief summary in 1-4 pages. If your transcripts or diplomas are not available yet, please attach a note clearly stating which documents are not available, and when they will be available. This note can be in your own words.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered (do not submit applications by e-mail).

The interviews will be held in the course of August 29 and September 9.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise 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.

If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.

Application form: