News and Events: Open Positions

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.

PhD candidate in Semantics, Pragmatics and Cognition

Publication date
8 July 2014
Level of education
Salary indication
~2,083 to ~2,664 gross per month
Closing date
30 September 2014
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is a research institute at the University of Amsterdam, in which researchers from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities collaborate. Its central research aentrea 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 computational linguistics, logic, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence and philosophy.

The PhD position is part of the larger Dutch research consortium `Language in Interaction'. This research consortium brings together researchers from nine different research institutions in the Netherlands, with complementary expertise in a highly interdisciplinary area of research. This PhD project will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Johan van Benthem (ILLC) and Prof. Dr. Ivan Toni (Donders Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen).

Project description

The Game of Language: Complex Communication and Mental States 

Humans can communicate about factual states of the world (`there is no apple in the basket~), but can also convey and interpret information about mental states (`she does not know there is an apple in the basket~). Everyday communication largely depends on this ability to represent, to strategize, and to act upon information about mental states of other people. Using interactive game-theoretical scenarios, this project combines two levels of investigation: logical models to capture the complexity of reasoning about mental states underlying communication; and neurocognitive research to define the neural mechanisms supporting those complexity demands.

This position will be held at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) in Amsterdam and also involve a close collaboration with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior in Nijmegen. The applicant is expected to have the flexibility to regularly attend at both institutes, and help build bridges between them.

The PhD candidate is expected to:

  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • collaborate with the researchers in other relevant parts of the Language in Interaction project and the ILLC;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at international conferences and workshops, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
  • assist in relevant teaching activities.


The candidate should have:

  • a Research Master~s degree (or equivalent) in Logic, Computer Science, Linguistics, Cognitive (Neuro)science, Artificial Intelligence, or a related discipline;
  • a strong background in logic, semantics, computational complexity theory, game theory, and experimental psychology is highly valued;
  • an active interest in interdisciplinary research, building connections between formal and empirical studies of human communication;
  • previous experience with brain imaging techniques is desirable, but not mandatory;
  • good academic writing and presentation skills;
  • excellent skills in written and spoken English.

Applications from excellent candidates with a less than ideal profile will be equally considered.

Further information

Informal enquiries may be directed to:


The full-time appointment at ILLC will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings will be drawn up.

The gross monthly salary will range from ~2,083 in the first year to ~2,664 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scale for PhD candidates. The collective labour agreement (CAO) of Dutch universities is applicable.

The successful applicant will work under the daily supervision of Professor J. van Benthem and Dr. J. Szymanik of the ILLC, while the Nijmegen advisors will be Prof. I. Toni and Dr. I. van Rooij. The preferred starting date is 1 January 2015.

Job application

The administration of the Language in Interaction project is carried out by the Radboud University in Nijmegen. N.B.: Applicants should consult the vacancy notice for seven PhD positions for the Language in Interaction project and apply according to the instructions given there. The deadline for applications is 30 September 2014.

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