PhD Position in Tutoring Systems for Programming Education

Utrecht University


5-year PhD candidate in Tutoring Systems for Programming Education (1.0 FTE)

Job description

The Software Technology for Learning and Teaching Group at Utrecht University is looking for a junior Researcher who wants to jump-start her/his career by taking up a PhD candidate position in Tutoring Systems for Programming Education. The five-year position includes 70% research time and 30% teaching time. The position presents an excellent opportunity to develop an academic profile as a competent researcher and teacher.

The scope of your duties as a PhD candidate primarily include conducting research that should result in successfully obtaining a PhD degree during the appointment. Other duties include supporting the preparation and teaching of Bachelor's and Master's courses, supervising student theses, managing research infrastructure, and participating in public outreach.


You will conduct research in the field of Computer Science Education, focusing on designing and evaluating new technology for tools that help students write better code.

Producing high-quality code is essential for professionals working on maintainable software. However, awareness of code quality is also important for novices. In addition to writing programmes meeting functional requirements, teachers would like their students to write understandable, concise, and efficient code. Unfortunately, time to address these qualitative aspects is limited. Assessment tools and tutoring systems may provide support by giving automated feedback and hints on students’ work.

In this position you will:

  • study the underlying problems and misconceptions students have regarding code quality;
  • develop new technology to automatically analyse student code and generate feedback;
  • conduct experiments with the developed tools in classroom settings and iteratively improve them based on the findings.

You will be a part of the Software Technology for Learning and Teaching Group. In this group, we study technologies, algorithms, and tools from the fields of computer science, artificial intelligence, data science, and educational research and further develop and apply them to create better digital learning and teaching experiences. We focus in particular on the underlying software technology necessary to further optimise digital learning environments.


You are expected to be involved in teaching activities within the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. Teaching activities may include supporting senior teaching staff, conducting tutorials, and supervising student projects and theses. These activities will contribute to the development of your didactic skills.


Our ideal candidate is ambitious and expresses a strong interest in research and teaching in Computer Science topics, in particular programming.

You also:

  • have a Master’s degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field. We welcome participants with past research experience, but this is not a requirement;
  • have excellent English communication skills, both in writing and speech;
  • are proactive, self-reliant, and have good collaboration skills;
  • are a skilled programmer, eager to develop new technology yourself, and to write code to automatically analyse large data sets of student programmes. However, you are also interested in the didactical aspects of learning and teaching programming and are enthusiastic about implementing them in the classroom.


  • a full-time position for 5 years;
  • the gross salary starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month during the appointment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities);
  • the salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% per year;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions (based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities).

We offer an exciting opportunity to contribute to an ambitious and international education programme with highly motivated students and to conduct your own research project at a renowned research university. You will receive appropriate training, personal supervision, and guidance for both your research and teaching tasks, which will provide an excellent start to an academic career.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organization

The department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally renowned for its fundamental and applied research in computer science and information science. In our constantly changing (digital) society, the Department of Information and Computing Sciences is constantly looking for new, realistic ways to push the boundaries of both science and social application. We contribute to innovative information technologies through the development and application of new concepts, theories, algorithms, and software methods. We collaborate extensively with partners inside and outside the university, including the ones in the focus areas of Applied Data Science, Human-centered Artificial Intelligence, and Game Research. The department provides the Bachelor's programmes in Computer Science and Information Science and five English language Research Master's programmes in these areas.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Additional information

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Hieke Keuning (

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button! Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum Vitae;
  • an MSc thesis or any scientific paper you have written (if available);
  • contact details of two references (if available);
  • a copy of your MSc certificate or a letter from your MSc thesis supervisor indicating when you are likely to graduate;
  • transcripts showing grades obtained on your Bachelor's and Master's courses.

The application must be written in English. Promising candidates will be invited to an interview. As part of the selection procedure, you are expected to give a short presentation.

If this specific opportunity is not for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is

In your application, please refer to


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