Research Assistant Transboundary Legal Studies (4.0 FTE)

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: today

The department of Transboundary Legal Studies ( offers grants to aspiring PhD students who want to develop an idea for a PhD project into a fully developed proposal. Young scholars who have an idea for a PhD proposal in one of the areas of expertise covered by the department’s members listed below are hereby invited to submit this idea together with a CV and motivational letter. The successful candidates will be awarded a scholarship to enable them to develop that idea into a fully fledged PhD proposal with the help of one of the department’s members during a six month stay at the department.

A committee will select the successful candidates on the basis of their research idea, the motivational letter and an (online) interview. We are particularly interested in research ideas that align closely with the research done at the department.

We will pay for travel to and from Groningen, accommodation and living expenses during the stay. You are encouraged to submit the full proposal for a position at the University of Groningen, but this is by no means required.

Our staff offers expertise to students seeking to develop a viable PhD research proposal concerning the following subjects:

Marlies Hesselman invites applications in the area of transnational law and ‘energy poverty’ or ‘universal access to modern, affordable, reliable energy services’ (SDG 7). Energy poverty affects billions of people globally, with different effects on human health, well-being and development. Energy poverty also affects certain groups disproportionally, including particularly women. Research within this topic could include legal doctrinal or comparative inquiries into regional or national legal systems, especially with a focus on Africa, Latin-America or Asia, as well as include critical or more philosophical perspectives, like feminist approaches, Third World approaches or human capabilities approaches. Another area of interest, in light of recent developments in law and case-law, would be in-depth comparative analysis of energy disconnection bans in different parts of the world, including in Europe.

Nicolle Zeegers - offers her expertise to prospective PhD students interested in exploring the impact of different national prostitution policies. International law; transnational criminal law against human trafficking as well as human rights law shape these national policies to an increasing extent. Paradoxically, this has resulted in national regimes varying from legalization, client criminalization to decriminalization each time defended by the claim that this would be best for protecting individual rights. How these regimes are implemented and how does this work out in practice? The topic would require an interdisciplinary approach combining the methods of comparative law and comparative politics. The specific (mix of) method(s) depends on the country cases you want to address and the questions you want to answer.

Nynke Vellinga - would be happy to offer her expertise to prospective PhD students interested in the legal framework for smart mobility. In her own research, she focusses mainly on the legal challenges relating to traffic law, cybersecurity law, civil liability and insurance arising from the development of driverless cars. Further interests include exploring legal questions concerning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (e.g. drones), autonomous ships, etc. These topics can require an interdisciplinary approach as well as a comparative analysis, depending on the questions explored.

Tobias Nowak - can offer his expertise to prospective PhD students who are interested in exploring the role of national judges and courts in the application of EU law or who want to investigate the role of the CJEU in the legislative process of the EU. Both topics would require an interdisciplinary approach combining social science and legal analysis. In his own research, he uses process tracing to explain the role of the CJEU using different policy fields as case studies and mixed-methods to better understand the experiences of national judges with EU law. You would first have to decide on a specific legal field or issue that you are interested in. The methods you will use will then depend on the specific questions you want to answer.

We expect you to come to Groningen in September 2023 and to stay for a period of six months.

The Faculty of Law ( is building on a longstanding tradition of four centuries. Its mission is to be an ambitious top-ranking faculty of law with both high-quality education and research, with a strong international orientation, firmly rooted in the North of The Netherlands.

The faculty creates and shares knowledge through outstanding education and research, benefitting society. With almost 5.000 students and 500 staff the faculty is heavily involved in educating students, both Dutch and international. The faculty is a modern, broad and international institution, educating students to become forward-looking, articulate and independent lawyers.

The Department is a highly internationalised, diverse and active group of scholars who share an interest in the transboundary aspects of the law. We regularly organise meetings to discuss specific research projects and results as well as more general themes. You will become an integral part of the department and thus be invited to all the activities that we organise so that you can get a good understanding of what life in academia is like.

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