PhD Position in Surveillance in Emergent Media Technologies

University of Amsterdam Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences


PhD in Communication Science ‘Surveillance in Emergent Media Technologies’

Publication date 14 April 2020

Closing date 13 May 2020

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

Vacancy number 20-226

Are you exceptionally interested in communication science and the Digital Society. Is it your ambition to become a top-tier researcher?

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute for the Communication Science department at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. ASCoR, together with College and Graduate School of Communication at the University of Amsterdam, has launched the ‘Digital Society Initiative’, which aims to foster research and teaching into digitalization and its societal implications. Part of this initiative is the start of four exciting PhD projects that focus on themes related to the Digital Society. Topics include virtual assistants, digital trace data and algorithms.

What will you be doing?

The PhD project Surveillance in emergent media technologies looks at the dynamic relation between perceptions, use, and responses towards media technologies that collect, analyse and use digital trace data for personalized recommendations in marketing- and health communication. The research includes four sub-projects in which you will:

  • gain insights into people’s perceptions of surveillance-enabling media technologies (think aloud study);
  • identify the extent to which people share their data with surveillance-enabling technologies, such as smart speakers with virtual assistants, and fitness trackers (data donation study);
  • examine the dynamic relationships between perceptions, use, and responses to media and persuasive messages (three-wave panel survey);
  • develop and test an intervention aiming to increase digital literacy to empower people making informed decisions regarding surveillance-enabling technologies.

What do we require of you?

You have:

  • a (Research) Master’s degree (or close to obtaining one) in Communication Science, or a closely related field;
  • a keen interest in the topic of the project;
  • knowledge about and experience with quantitative research methods and (willingness to gain) experience with qualitative research;
  • a demonstrated interest in computational social science, especially on digital methods of data collection; experience with this methods is a plus;
  • knowledge of Python and/or R or the willingness to learn these languages.


  • excel academically, as shown in the grade transcripts and curriculum vitae;
  • enjoy working in teams, and appreciate team collegiality and cooperation;
  • are a good communicator and an excellent organizer;
  • are proactive, reliable and independent;
  • are fluent in written and spoken English.

Our offer

The position concerns a temporary employment contract of 38 hours a week for a maximum term of 48 months. The initial contract is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 48 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will spend 25% of your four-year term contract on teaching activities related to the Digital Society track in the bachelor Communication Science that is currently developed. The intended start date of the project is 1 September 2020.
Your salary will be €2,325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2,972 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.

What else do we offer?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

About the Faculty

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) is the largest educational and research institution in the social sciences in the Netherlands. The Faculty serves 7,500 students in numerous Bachelor and Master programmes in Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Communication Science, Psychology, Social Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, and Educational Sciences. The academic staff is employed in education as well as research. There are over 1,100 employees at the Faculty, which resides in a number of buildings in the centre of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or would you like to have more detailed descriptions of the project? Please contact:

  • Dr Hilde Voorveld

Would you like to learn more about working at the University of Amsterdam? Visit our website.

Job application

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.

Does this profile sound like you?

If so, we are eager to receive your CV and covering letter.

You may apply online by clicking on the following link.

The deadline for applications is 13 May. #LI-DNP


In your application, please refer to


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