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PhD position in Music Cognition at UvA/ILLC and Leiden

Function typesPhD positions
Scientific fieldsBehaviour and Society, Language and Culture
Hours38.0 hours per week
Salarymaximum € 2612
EducationUniversity Graduate
Job number 12-246

Job description

The successful candidate will:

  • conduct original research in line with both the general research project and the PhD-project described above,
  • complete a PhD thesis in 4 years,
  • present intermediate research results at (international) conferences,
  • submit research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals,
  • assist in teaching activities in the domain of music cognition,
  • participate in the programme's research activities and and their organization, including reading and discussions groups, seminars, conferences, workshops, and joint publications.
  • collaborate with the researchers in the other teams of the programme.      


We are looking for someone who:

  • holds a Master's or equivalent degree in cognitive science, music cognition, linguistics, or psychology. Students who are close to finishing their Master's program are also welcome to apply.
  • has a good basic knowledge of the research methods of at least two of the following fields: cognitive science, music cognition, phonology, or psychology,
  • is eager to expand his/her knowledge and skills in all of these fields,
  • has a curious, enterprising, and creative mind as well as excellent analytical and organizational skills,
  • has an excellent command of both spoken and written English, as well as outstanding writing skills,
  • has the ability to work both independently and as part of a team, as well as the ambition to pursue an academic career in an internationally oriented scientific context.

Conditions of employment

We offer a dynamic, enthusiastic, inspiring and supportive working environment. Our focus will be on training you to be a top-notch independent scientist. In addition to thorough research training, the graduate schools of both universities offer a variety of courses aimed at training of professional and personal skills. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by various national research schools.

The project will run for four years and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. We will offer an initial contract of 18 months, which is extended with an additional 30 months after a positive evaluation of your research skills, initial results, and compatibility. The appointment will be under the terms of the CAO (collective labour agreement) of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is set on € 2042,- in the first year up to € 2612,- gross per month in year four. Benefits include a pension build-up, an annual holiday premium of 8% and an end-of-year premium of 8.3%. Non-Dutch nationals may be eligible for a substantial tax break (30% ruling).


Leiden University

Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.

Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.


Additional information


In various domains of cognitive science, a new paradigm holds that humans and non-human animals are born with a small set of hard-wired cognitive abilities that are task-specific, language-independent, and non-species-specific. These core knowledge systemsare innate cognitive skills that have the capacity for building mental representations of objects, persons, spatial relationships, numerosity, and social interaction. In addition to core knowledge systems, humans possess species-specific, uniquely human abilities such as language and music.

The 'core knowledge' paradigm challenges scholars in the humanities to ask the question how nurture and culture build on nature. This project examines the way in which innate, non specifically human, core knowledge systems for object representation, number, and geometry constrain cultural expressions in music, language, and the visual arts. In this research program, four domains of the humanities will be investigated from the point of view of core knowledge:

- subproject 1music cognition        
                (1PhD student, 1 Postdoc, teamleader: Prof.dr H. Honing)

- subproject 2language and number              
                (1PhD student, 1 Postdoc, teamleader: Prof.dr S. Barbiers)

- subproject 3visual arts and geometry
                (1PhD student, 1 Postdoc, teamleaders: M. Delbeke & Prof.dr C. van Eck)

- subproject 4poetry, rhythm, and meter (1PhD student, 1 Postdoc)

                (1PhD student, 1 Postdoc, teamleader: Prof.dr M. van Oostendorp)

PhD-project: Relative pitch in music and language

As a part of the subproject on music cognition, the PhD project addresses the cognitive mechanism of relative pitch, and aims to investigate how this human skill can throw light on the relation between music, language, and musical ability (or musicality). The two main questions addressed in this project are the following:
1. What is the evidence for relative pitch as an innate or at least a spontaneously developing skill?
2. Is relative pitch shared with language, or are two different pitch perception systems involved for music and language?
In addition, the candidate will study the role of relative pitch in cultures with a tonal language and study the potential relationship between relative pitch and the core knowledge systems of number and geometry.~ 


The PhD-student will participate in and contribute to a research team comprising a total of 4 PhD students and 4 Postdocs in four teams corresponding to the subprojects outlined above. The entire project is coordinated by Prof.dr Johan Rooryck at LeidenUniversity. The PhD student will work in two locations: LUCL at LeidenUniversity, which is the home base of the research team, and Prof.dr Henkjan Honing's Music Cognition Group (MCG) at the Universityof Amsterdam. The project will start on 1 February 2013. For more information, please see the full description of the project at

Research at LUCL and the Music Cognition Group (MCG) at the University of Amsterdam

Leiden University has a longstanding tradition in research in the world's languages and features unique linguistic expertise. LUCL combines current theoretical insights and modern experimental methods in its research profile area 'Language Diversity in the World'. For more information, see:

The Music Cognition Group (MCG) is part of the Department of Musicology, the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), and the Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam (CSCA) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). For more information, see

For further information on these projects please contact: Prof.dr Henkjan Honing or Prof.dr. Johan Rooryck ; or with respect to practical matters Ms Gea Hakker, .

Please send your application only to .

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