Doctoral Researcher in Urban Geography, Housing and Planning

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 15 Apr 2024

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University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science invites applications for
DOCTORAL RESEARCHER IN URBAN GEOGRAPHY, HOUSING AND PLANNING for a fix-term employment for four years starting September 2024.

Out of the 48 months, 36 months are covered by the European Commission Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) Doctoral Network funding, and 12 months by the University of Helsinki. There will be a six-month trial period for the position. The EU Researcher Allowances will be used to cover both the employee’s as the employer’s mandatory charges.

General information on the Doctoral Network

The selected candidate will be part of the SUNSET Doctoral Network  built around a community of leading scholars and 10 doctoral candidates (DCs) delivering insights into how universities and their host cities can collaborate and interact to achieve the digitalization and sustainability goals set out by current European and global policy agendas. The network is purposefully international, intersectoral, and interdisciplinary. It consists of 6 academic and 16 non-academic partners in 5 European countries (Belgium – The Netherlands – Finland – Norway – Estonia). SUNSET emphasizes cooperative research and includes international mobility and intersectoral secondments to maximize the career potential of all DCs. More information on the project:

PhD project description 

The doctoral project will investigate the role of knowledge and how investments in various forms of collaboration between cities and universities, as well as cross-faculty initiatives within universities, contribute to sustainable urban development.

The research aims are fourfold:

  • to compile and analyse the role and impact of structured partnerships between cities and higher education institutions, including cross-faculty strategies and collaborations such as the Urban Academy, HELSUS, Urbaria, Living Plus, and multidisciplinary Master's programs; 
  • to assess the influence of these collaborations on sustainable urban development also at the neighbourhood scale;
  • to explore improved forms of public investment and novel methods for mobilizing expertise and civic engagement in public-private partnerships or citizen science collaborations focused on sustainable urban development;
  • to conduct action research and evaluate its effectiveness in the context of European Union missions.
  • A successful outcome of this project will involve mapping various types of urban collaborations and cross-faculty investments within universities that promote sustainable urban development. Finland, with Helsinki in particular, has consistently ranked highly in various indices of competitiveness, characterized by low hierarchical structures and a strong culture of trust and consensus. The "Europe in the Creative Age" report by Richard Florida and Irene Tinagli identifies Finland as a top performer in Europe, doing "exceptionally well" according to their indicators of competitiveness. Thus, Helsinki provides a fascinating case study to identify the successes, challenges and barriers related to institutional needs and practices against or for desired outcomes. Additionally, the project will enhance the understanding of sustainability within neighbourhoods.

    Planned secondments:

    • University of Helsinki, (Winter 2025/2026) Department of Geophysics and geography, urban planning department.
    • University of Stavanger (Autumn 2026)

    Individual PhD project information

    Host institution: University of Helsinki
    Supervisory team: Prof. Mari Vaattovaara (PhD main supervisor, University of Helsinki), Prof. Rune Dahl Fitjar (co-supervisor, University of Stavanger), Alpo Tani (secondment host, City of Helsinki)
    Enrolment in Doctoral School: Doctoral programme in interdisciplinary environmental sciences or doctoral programme in social sciences


    We are looking for a pro-active and motivated person, eager to participate in network-wide training events, international mobility, and public dissemination activities.

    The successful applicant is expected to have:

    • A master's degree in geography, social sciences, geoinformatics, urban planning, or in a related area.
    • Fluent written and verbal communication skills in English are required; knowledge of Finnish is an advantage.
    • The ability to work independently as part of a group in an international environment is essential.
    • Appreciated skills include deep knowledge in research methods, the knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and statistical analysis skills.
    • To reside in Finland while employed by the University of Helsinki.
    • Mobility rule: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (e.g., work, studies) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary (i.e. Finland) for more than 12 months in the 36 months (48 months) immediately before their recruitment date.

    Salary and benefits

    In terms of salary:

    • For the first 36 months, the annual gross monthly salary will be 3125,38€ and mobility allowance 461,54€ per month following the MSCA practices. The doctoral researcher may also be eligible for family allowance according to the MSCA doctoral network practice.
    • During the 12 last months, the salary will follow the University of Helsinki salary scheme.

    Finland is a member of EU and has high quality free schooling (also in English), generous family benefits and healthcare. Finland and the Helsinki region possess top expertise in sciences in terms of a vibrant talent pool, leading research, strong support services and functioning collaboration networks. For more information about working at the University of Helsinki and living in Finland, please see .


    You are welcome to submit your application by 15 April 2024 (PDF documents in English):

  • A motivation & research statement letter (2-3 pages) explaining your motivation to apply for the position
  • Curriculum vitae
  • A copy of your MSc thesis.

  • External applicants, please submit your application to the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the Apply Now button.

    Applicants who have a username and a valid employment/grant/visitor contract at the University of Helsinki are requested to submit their application via the Employee login button, but please note the mobility requirements of this position.

    We welcome applicants with a variety of gender identities, and linguistic and cultural backgrounds.


    For more information about the position and potential fit, please contact Professor Mari Vaattovaara, mari.vaattovaara(at), tel. +358 50 415 4861.

    In case you need support with the recruitment system or other technicalities, please contact hr-kumpula(at)

    Department of Geosciences and Geography  at the Faculty of Science is the leading research and education unit in its field in Finland. In addition to research in geology, geophysics and geography, research into seismology and official duties in the field of seismology is carried out at the department.

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