Post Doc position - Turning Empirical? The Transformation of Scholarship of International Law (TEMPTATION) funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF)

Updated: 18 days ago
Deadline: 01 Oct 2021

The University of Copenhagen hereby announces one fully funded postdoc position (3 years) to start 1 January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The position is part of a research project aimed at examining what some describe as an empirical turn or even a Methodenstreit in law between traditional doctrinal scholarship and various empirical disciplines. TEMPTATION subjects this (alleged) empirical turn to a critical examination focusing specifically on its role in international law, and combining philosophical and socio-empirical analysis.

The overall research project and research questions

In recent decades, legal academia has undergone a significant methodological development which some describe as an empirical turn away from more traditional doctrinal toward novel empirical approaches. This alleged turn raises deep questions about legal science; about its research object, theory and method. Discussions are challenged by conflicting conceptualizations of “the empirical”, and by bipartisan sentiments pro et con. TEMPTATION aims to subject this phenomenon to a critical examination, yet the ambition is professedly agnostic. Without taking sides, the project combines philosophical analysis of concepts and arguments with empirical analysis of the actual scope of the development and of the factors driving it. The project thereby asks the following research questions to be addressed by the postdoc in separate work-packages:

  • RQ 1: What does it mean theoretically for legal science to be turning empirical?
  • RQ 2: To what extent is legal science in fact turning empirical?
  • RQ 3: What are the factors driving and/or inhibiting an ET in legal science?

TEMPTATION is embedded in iCourts – Centre of Excellence for International Courts . In accordance with iCourts’ research agenda, TEMPTATION narrows the scope and focuses specifically on international law where the empirical turn seems particularly strong – for several reasons: i) International law is the only field of law that has a truly international scholarly community thereby minimizing national contingencies; ii) as a system of norms, international law is considered more open and indeterminate than most domestic legal systems, which may make it particularly receptive to methodological innovation; iii) International law has undergone an extreme judicialization during the last three to four decades with the establishment of a large number of international courts. This development has occasioned a significant change in the mode of producing law across substantive international law areas, and in the law/politics interface, which in turn seem to have made the field of international law particularly ripe for empirical studies.


TEMPTATION is a genuinely interdisciplinary research project located at the crossroads between law, philosophy and sociology. Accordingly, the candidate has a PhD in one of these (or relevantly similar) disciplines and an interest and experience within modern philosophy and sociology of law and legal science. Ideally, the post-doc has a strong experience in philosophical analysis and/or empirical legal research methods and/or international law. Knowledge of modern foundational debates in legal science will also be valued. International publications within the fields covered by the project will be an asset.

Tasks of the post-doc and development of skills and competences

Using both philosophical analysis and empirical legal research methods, the postdoc is expected to write – alone or together with the PI – a number of articles in international peer reviewed journals on the three research questions mentioned above. Thus, the successful candidate will develop and strengthen her/his research skills and curriculum.

Furthermore, the postdoc will be in charge of promoting the TEMPTATION project and disseminating findings and other news on several blogs and social media. Together with the PI, the postdoc will organize two-three workshops/conferences with international experts during the project period. Thus, the successful candidate will develop her/his organizational and dissemination skills.

Besides the postdoc also has some teaching obligations. These enable the candidate to develop and strengthen her/his teaching experience and portfolio, thus qualifying her/him for further positions at the Faculty or elsewhere. In particular, the candidate will be given opportunity to participate in and complete the Law Faculty’s Assistant Professor Teaching Programme [“Adjunktpædagogikum”], which provide necessary qualifications for tenured positions in Danish universities.

Further information

Contact Associate Professor Jakob v. H. Holtermann: .   

Salary and terms of employment

The appointment will be made in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (Akademikernes Centralorganisation, AC). In addition to the basic salary you will receive an annual supplement per month and a total contribution to your pension fund equal 17,1 % of your salary and annual supplement is paid. It is possible to negotiate further salary supplements. 

The position include research and reduced teaching and administrative responsibilities.

For further information, please see ‘Job Structure for Academic Staff at Universities 2019 ’ and ‘Guide to appointment of permanent academic staff at the Faculty of Law ’. Both documents are available on the Faculty’s website .   

Letter of motivation, appendices and the submitted research publications (including papers, articles and books), must be written in English. The application will be rejected if not all the required documents are submitted.

It is essential that you fill out all the mandatory fields in the electronic application even though the info is already stated in your CV, application, publication or other material you may find relevant to upload. The completed fields will be screened during the shortlisting and assessment process and in order to generate your final assessment, which we will send to you after the assessment work is finalized.

The application MUST include the following nine (9) elements:

1. Letter of motivation (a one page document explaining the reasons for applying).
2. Curriculum vitae
3. Research project. Applications should include a proposal for a research project to be completed during the post-doctoral period. Proposals should be no more than four pages long. The proposal should demonstrate the capacity to develop a postdoctoral project, identifying the relevant methodological tools to achieve the outlined project.
4. Diplomas, PhD or JSD diploma or alternatively a document showing that the applicant submitted or will submit a dissertation.
5. Publication list. (Complete, numbered list of publications).
6. Teaching portfolio, including documentation for teaching qualifications as well as a brief statement of the applicant's teaching visions within the research area. For more information regarding the teaching portfolio, please see the related guidelines .
7. Academic references, if available (please upload under “other relevant material”).
8. A maximum of five (5) scientific publications that the applicant wishes to have included in the assessment, of which no more than one (1) may be a monograph. Applicants, who have written a PhD or JSD thesis or equivalent, must always submit the complete thesis (if the thesis is written in Danish, English, Swedish or Norwegian) and the written assessment of the thesis as a part of submitted publications.
9. If citing work where the applicant has been a co-author, a co-author declaration, which addresses the applicant's share of these works, must be submitted. Material that has not yet been published can be submitted. However, please indicate if this is the case.

In addition to the material which the applicant wishes to be included in the assessment, the Assessment Committee may require further material to assess the applicant. It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide such supplementary material, should this be requested.

Application procedure
Upload letter of motivation, appendices and the research publications electronically using the link below. We advise you to have the above mentioned documents ready before you begin to fill out your online application, and it is essential that all required documents are enclosed.

Applications must be addressed to the Associate Dean of Research and uploaded electronically.

An automatically generated message is sent out acknowledging receipt of the uploaded application.

Applicants will be kept informed about the process of the application procedure on a regular basis via email.

Following the application deadline, the Associate Dean of Research selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Appointments Committee. Applicants are selected on the basis of an overall assessment of the applicants that best match the recruitment needs of the Faculty as described in this advertisement for the post. This is compared with the applicant's research and teaching profile as set out in the application, CV incl. list of publication, teaching portfolio and any research/development plan.  All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an expert Assessment Committee. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and when the committee has completed its assessment, each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicants themselves.

University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding society and therefore encourages all interested parties regardless of personal background to apply for the position.

Further information about the recruitment process is available from HR officer Lotte Strandberg, e-mail: Please refer to ID number #1 211-0837/21-2I

The application deadline is 1 October, 2021, 23:59 GMT+1.

Applications received after the deadline has expired will not be accepted.

If your application does not include all the required supporting documents your application can be rejected and not be considered by the assessment committee.

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

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