PhD Candidate on "EU democracy promotion in authoritarian regimes" at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Political Science, Maastricht University 1.0 fte, 4 years

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 26 Aug 2022

PhD Candidate on "EU democracy promotion in authoritarian regimes" at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Political Science, Maastricht University 1.0 fte, 4 years
PhD Candidate on "EU democracy promotion in authoritarian regimes" at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Political Science, Maastricht University 1.0 fte, 4 years
Published Deadline Location
19 Jul 26 Aug Maastricht

You are invited to apply for a PhD position within the project ‘Democratisation and Economic Modernisation in Authoritarian and Hybrid Regimes.' The project is funded by EU HORIZON EMBRACE and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) of Maastricht University (UM). This project is led by associate prof. Giselle Bosse (work-package leader and promotor) and prof. Sophie Vanhoonacker (co-promotor).
Job description

Research project

The objective of the HORIZON EMBRACE work-package project is to unpack the relationship between autocratic resilience, economic modernisation and democratisation, with a specific focus on European Union democracy promotion (EUDP) in European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries. Authoritarian and hybrid regimes are the ‘hard cases’ of EUDP. While the EU has in many instances actively sought to engage with local drivers of pro-democratic change, its toolbox has largely consisted of economic and trade policies, aimed at economic reform and modernisation (as incentives for democratisation) or economic sanctions (to correct illiberal behaviour). Yet the symbiotic relationship between economic modernisation and democratisation remains highly contested. Economic reforms and modernisation can potentially spur liberal opening, but have also been found to contribute to the consolidation and resilience of autocratic regimes and to democratic backsliding especially, creating a blockage to further democratisation. Episodes of blockages and restricted opening will be analysed in various case studies, with a thematic emphasis on Belarus.

Your contribution to the work-package project will be to undertake the core research activities of the project, in close consultation with associate prof. Bosse. You will conduct desk research on the Belarus case study, as well as interviews with Belarusian independent civil society and the opposition, EU officials and member state government representatives. You will also support the project leader in all organisational tasks involved in the work-package project, including interview transcriptions, small-scale translations, and the planning of workshops.

Your PhD project will fall within the general thematic area of the work package project, and could, for example, focus on the effectiveness of EUDP and/or EU sanctions in the context of authoritarian regimes in the EU's (wider) neighbourhood. You are expected to develop and submit a fully-fledged PhD proposal after the first six months of your contract.

Your research will be located in the Politics and Culture in Europe research programme at FASoS. (see: ).

Job description

You will:

  • Review the relevant literature on EUDP, and the relationship between autocratic resilience, economic modernisation and democratisation, with a specific focus on conflicts among political and economic elites over economic modernisation.
  • Analyse primary and secondary sources to examine the Belarus case study and identify episodes of blockages and restricted opening.
  • Carry out interviews with Belarusian independent civil society and the opposition, EU officials and EU member state government representatives. For this, travel will be required.
  • Learn and apply the methodological techniques relevant to the project, both for data gathering/processing and analysis and follow research methods trainings, if required.
  • Work closely with other members of the project and participate in team meetings.
  • Develop a fully-fledged PhD proposal on a topic within the general thematic area of the work package project, to with submitted within six months after the start of your contract.
  • Take part in training by the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
  • Write academic publications, and co-author with other members of the team.
  • Write and defend your PhD, either on the basis of publications or as a dissertation.

The position is 1,0 fte research.

  • 38—40 hours per week
  • Maastricht View on Google Maps

Maastricht University (UM)


You hold an MA/MSc degree in European Studies, Political Science, International Relations or a related discipline (or are expected to obtain such a degree before 1 September 2022).

You have received excellent grades, a keen interest in academic research, and advanced knowledge of qualitative research methods. You can manage your time and your research activities well. You are capable of autonomously conducting original research as well as working in a team. You write and communicate fluently in English (C2). Knowledge of Russian and/or Belarussian is an asset.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

We offer a dynamic and challenging job in an internationally-oriented organisation where young people receive an advanced education and scholars conduct exciting research. You will be part of an international network of top universities and renowned scholars within the field.

Initially, you are employed on a 1-year contract as PhD-candidate.  The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended for the remaining 3 years. Starting date: preferably 1 October 2022

Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD-candidates starting with a salary of € 2.541- with a yearly growth to € 3.247,- gross a month (based on a full-time appointment).

Each year the standard salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.

You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Maastricht. If you do not already live in Maastricht (or its direct surroundings), you will be eligible for an allowance for moving costs. You may also be eligible for an allowance for alternative housing.

Other secondary conditions include e.g. a pension scheme and partially paid parental leave. You will be provided with shared office space and a PC.

Maastricht University’s Terms of Employment are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local university provisions apply. For more information, please see the website: > About UM > Working at UM

Maastricht University

UM is a European university with an international orientation, operating at the heart of society and firmly rooted in the region. Ever since it was founded in 1976, the university has worked across borders, with a particular focus on the Euregion. Here, we connect education and research internationally, analyse societal issues in their full breadth and reinforce the labour market through the triple-helix collaboration. We have an open and inclusive academic culture, an international community and a strong focus on innovative and interdisciplinary education and research. Our community is composed of students, lecturers, researchers, support staff, and alumni.

As the pre-eminent European university in the Netherlands, our core values
are diversity and inclusion, sustainability, mutual respect, integrity, democratic principles, and transparency. We take our social responsibility seriously by forging links between the university and society, from the local to the global level. Moreover, as a solid and resilient international community, we hold ourselves accountable for the future of our world. This entails paying special attention to the urgent challenges of the 21st century, such as securing a sustainable future for our society.

UM is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community ( ). We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position regardless of your background or identity.

More on the mission and strategy of UM:

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 22,000 students and about 5,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

In the teaching and research at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), we highlight major developments in societies and cultures as they have unfolded during the modern and contemporary eras. We seek to gain understanding of the interrelationships of Europeanisation, globalisation, scientific and technological development, political change, and cultural innovation. We are interested in how today’s societies cope with these challenges through, amongst others, practices of remembrance, governance techniques, strategies for managing knowledge, technologies, and risks and ways of dealing with diversity and inequality. Yet, understanding our present world is impossible without insight into its past. This is why historical research serves as a key element of our scholarly and educational identity.

FASoS has ca. 270 staff members and ca. 1,730 students. More than 77% of our students are non-Dutch (65 different nationalities) and 42% of our staff comes from abroad. All programmes are offered in English. FASoS offers four 3-year Bachelor’s programmes: Arts and Culture, European Studies, Digital Society, and Global Studies. It also offers eight different 1-year MA programmes and two 2-year ReMA programmes. Research is organised around four programmes: Politics and Culture in Europe; Science, Technology and Society Studies; Arts, Media and Culture; and Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is housed in the historic city centre of Maastricht.

Graduate School

Our Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences offers the opportunity to pursue a PhD in the interdisciplinary field of arts and social sciences. You receive a coherent program of introductory courses, intensive supervision and frequent discussion with the senior researchers inside and outside the Faculty. The Programme can be characterized by its international and interdisciplinary nature and the emphasis on cultural and societal issues of the modern world.

The School focuses on four themes:

  • Politics and Culture in Europe.
  • Maastricht University Science, Technology and Society Studies.
  • Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development.
  • Arts, Media and Culture.
  • Further information on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and its Graduate School may be accessed on:

    Additional information

    For further information on the position and/or the project, please contact
    dr. Giselle Bosse, Associate Professor, via e-mail She can be reached at this e-mail address from 22 August to 25 August.

    Apply via postal mail
    Apply via postal mail

    Don't forget to mention AcademicTransfer and the job number: AT2022.318 in your letter.

    Back to the vacancy
    Application procedure


    You are invited to submit:

  • A letter of motivation stating the candidate’s qualifications and reasons for interest in the position;
  • CV;
  • Grade transcript of previous education at MA/MSc level and undergraduate level;
  • Two academic papers (course papers; theses; academic publications); 
  • The contact information of two references (including e-mail; phone number, mailing address, and relationship to the applicant).
  • The deadline for submitting your application is 26 August 2022.

    Starting date: preferably 1 October 2022

    Please send your application electronically to the Secretariat of the department

    View or Apply

    Similar Positions