News and Events: Open Positions

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Four PhD Positions in AI, Digital Humanities, and Cultural Heritage

Deadline: Wednesday 15 May 2024
Faculty/Services: Faculty of Humanities
Educational level: Master
Function type: PhD position
Closing date: 15 May 2024
Vacancy number: 12835

Do you want to become part of a dynamic community that is at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence, Digital Humanities, and Cultural Heritage?

Our experts from the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation (ILLC) and the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory, and Material Culture (AHM) are looking for four talented and ambitious PhD candidates. Your research will be part of the Natural Language Processing and Digital Humanities unit of the ILLC (Projects 1-3) or the Digital Heritage research group of the AHM (Project 4).

We are working with leading universities, key technology partners, and core archives, libraries, and museums in the national NWO NWA project HAICu, to realise a very ambitious multidisciplinary research agenda together. Are you ready to become part of this exciting ecosystem, and take your career to the next level? If so, we would like you to apply for one of our four PhD positions described below.

What are you going to do?

You are an ambitious PhD student working on one of the four projects:

Project 1: LLMs for Cultural Heritage Access

Your focus will be on large language models for information access. How can we search specific collections, including full text, metadata, and multimodal content? How can we support complex search tasks and practices, such as scholarly research on cultural data, and the research and workflow of investigative journalism?

Supervisors: Jaap Kamps (ILLC)

Project 2: XAI from Artificial Intelligence to Digital Humanities

Your focus will be on applying AI explainability (XAI) in digital humanities and examine its value for the analysis of cultural-historical collections. How can we aggregate evidence in order to explain AI decisions but also how do AI models use evidence and uncertainty? How do we need to modify current XAI to meet the needs of humanities research?

Supervisors: Tobias Blanke (ILLC), Jaap Kamps (ILLC)

Project 3: XAI from Digital Humanities to Artificial Intelligence

Project 3 is complementary to project 2 but focuses on XAI from a historical-cultural perspective to analyse changes to humanities practices and epistemologies. How can we aggregate evidence to explain (past) human decisions and what are the limitations of current XAI techniques to do so? What are the cultural and theoretical conditions of XAI to explain historical materials?

Supervisors: Tobias Blanke (ILLC), Julia Noordegraaf (AHM)

Project 4: Constructing Polyvocal Cultural Heritage Narratives

Your focus will be on “polyvocality,” the current movement towards the inclusion of multiple perspectives in and on cultural heritage collections. Can we obtain reliable data to capture perspectives of different stakeholders and the relationships between them? What theoretical framework do we use to define perspectives and their relations with the underlying data sources (i.e., who created the data: experts? citizens? AI?). What perspectives are missing?

Supervisors: Julia Noordegraaf (AHM), Tobias Blanke (ILLC)

These four PhD students will be part of the digital Humanities, Artificial Intelligence, Cultural Heritage (HAICu) project, a large national science agenda project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO NWA funding 10.3 million euros, hiring 27 PhDs, Postdocs, and other researchers). HAICu deploys artificial intelligence (AI) to make digital heritage collections more accessible. It allows users to more easily interpret events from different perspectives and assess them for authenticity.

In HAICu, AI and Digital Humanities researchers collaborate with various partners and interested citizens on scientific breakthroughs to unlock, connect, and analyse extensive digital heritage collections. The extraordinary challenges of cultural heritage provide a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of AI. Future techniques must be able to be used outside the laboratory, learn from as few examples as possible and continuously learn from users. These techniques must take into account the societal demand for accountable and explainable methods for creating multimodal narratives of our cultural heritage that extend beyond current major language models.

Your tasks and responsibilities

You are expected:

  • to perform research on artificial intelligence, digital humanities and/or cultural heritage;
  • to publish and present the results in leading international conferences and journals;
  • to complete a PhD thesis submitted within the period of appointment;
  • to participate in meetings of the four PhDs, the hosting research groups, and the broader national research project (also with work package groups);
  • to participate in knowledge dissemination activities with external stakeholders;
  • to contribute to our teaching activities by (co-)teaching courses at the BA-level in the 2nd and 3rd year of the appointment and/or guiding students in their thesis work (max. 0,2FTE per year).

What do you have to offer?

We seek ambitious PhD candidates to work on a dynamic area of research, where new opportunities are expected to arise during the projects.

Your experience and profile

We are looking for a candidate with:

  • a completed master's degree in artificial intelligence, digital humanities, and/or cultural heritage. You may apply if you have not yet completed your master's degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before September 1, 2024;
  • a demonstrable interest in socio-technical research, and affinity with cultural heritage;
  • a strong academic performance in university level courses in the relevant subjects (see below), and excellent research skills demonstrated by an outstanding master's thesis;
  • a strong cooperative attitude and interest in working collaboratively with other researchers and external stakeholders;
  • a professional command of English and good presentation skills.

A candidate with cross disciplinary background (or interest in developing this) is a clear plus. Demonstrable interest and experience:

  • with artificial intelligence, natural language processing and information retrieval is crucial for Project 1 and desirable for Project 2;
  • with science and technology studies and digital humanities is crucial for Project 3 and desirable for Project 2;
  • with cultural-historical research and/or critical heritage studies is crucial for Project 4 and desirable for Project 3.

Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.

What can we offer you?

We offer a temporary employment contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours a week. The preferred starting date is as soon as possible.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges from € 2,770 up to a maximum of € 3,539. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

What else do we offer?

Apart from your salary and employee status (no tuition fees) and an inspiring research environment, we offer you many fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on full time) 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, including those offered by the Dutch National Research Schools;
  • 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.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 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 Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is a research institute at the 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.

The Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) is a research institute and doctoral school at the UvA’s Faculty of Humanities, committed to the analysis of the remnants and narratives of the past in the present, as well as of the remaking of pasts into heritage, memory and material culture. Research at AHM seeks to integrate all branches of research focusing on the material and intangible remains of the past, the reciprocal relations between objects and meanings, and the dynamics of memory, from diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives, concept-oriented, object-oriented, and user-oriented approaches.

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:

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 link below. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is May 15, 2024.

Applications should include the following information (submitted in one .pdf by uploading in the required field ‘CV’):

  • A detailed letter of motivation, explaining which project(s) interest you, why you are interested in that position, and how your background and experience fits the project.
  • A detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience.
  • A list of all university courses you have taken, with an official transcript of grades.
  • A list of publications (in case of joint authorship, clearly indicate your own contribution) and/or a link to at least one writing example available online (e.g., your master’s thesis in a university repository, or a direct link).
  • The names, affiliations, and email addresses of two references, including your advisor, who may be approached by the selection committee (please do not include reference letters in your application).

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

The interviews will be held in the course of May and June 2024. A trial assignment or presentation may be part of the application procedure.

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.

Application form:

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