PhD Sustainable Spatial Planning and Transport Policy-Making

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 23 May 2022

Scholarship opportunities

Overview of the position
We are seeking to recruit a candidate wishing to obtain a double doctoral degree involving collaboration between the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) and Aalto University (Finland). The position will start at the latest on 1 November 2022. The successful doctoral candidate will stay and work at both Universities: the first two years in the Netherlands and the last two years in Finland. Upon successful completion of the doctoral research project, the candidate will receive a double degree from the University of Groningen and Aalto University.

Theme description
The PhD candidate will carry out a research project in the general area of spatial planning and transport policy-making processes and practices that explicitly aim to promote more sustainable forms of urban development and mobility at local, regional, and/or national scales. The PhD project will focus on one or more of the following themes: policy-making for land use and transport integration; the development and implementation of sustainable urban and transport planning concepts (e.g. 15-min city, Transit Oriented Development); creating land use and transport infrastructure conditions for transitions towards more sustainable travel behaviour among individuals and businesses. Applications proposing research into one or more of the following aspects would be particularly welcome:

(i) policy instrument choice and policy packaging;
(ii) ‘policy pioneers’ (or ‘skilled practitioners’ or ‘exemplary practitioners’);
(iii) processes of policy import and/or export;
(iv) policy visualisation as a tool for increasing the acceptance of policy proposals; and
(v) formation of advocacy coalitions–groups of actors who share certain goals and coordinate their actions to achieve these common goals.

The research project will primarily focus on a comparative analysis of policy-making processes in Finland and the Netherlands but may also draw on empirical evidence from other similar countries.

  • a Master’s degree in a discipline such as economic/human geography, urban/regional planning, spatial planning, transportation planning, environmental policy, public administration, policy science, and other related disciplines
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English proven by a minimum score of 92 in TOEFL (92 overall, with no section below 20, writing 22) or IELTS of 6.5 (6.5 overall, with no section below 5.5)
  • previous knowledge and experience in the field of spatial planning and/or transport policy (especially in Finland or the Netherlands) is an advantage
  • knowledge of Finnish or Dutch language is preferable but not essential
  • you enjoy performing research. You are independent, self-motivated and eager to learn
  • you are keen to study and work in both partner universities and enjoy working in an international and cross-disciplinary group

-applicants need to fulfil the eligibility and admission criteria for Aalto’s Doctoral Programme in Engineering as specified at


Supervision team
The PhD candidate will be jointly supervised by Prof. Jos Arts and Assistant Prof. Samira Ramezani from the University of Groningen and Prof. Dominic Stead from Aalto University.

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen provides education and research within Geography, Demography, and Planning. The research theme is Wellbeing, Innovation and Spatial Transformation. With two bachelor and seven master programmes, the faculty offers a wide range of courses to 1,000 students. We are making places better together! For further information visit the webpage of the faculty at

Aalto University is a public research university which was established in 2010 after a merger of three major Finnish universities. It is consistently highly ranked in the areas of science, art, technology and business. The University’s main campus is located in Espoo, approximately 15 minutes by metro from the centre of Helsinki. Helsinki is a safe, clean, green capital city with a very high quality of life. Most Finns speak English fluently. More information about living and working in Finland can be found at . The successful applicant will join a team of international world-class researchers at Aalto University, receive extensive individual academic training and support, and will be given wide opportunities to participate in scientific conferences and meetings. The doctoral candidate will work in the SPT research group: .


University of Groningen offers the PhD-candidates a 2-year PhD scholarship (for the first two years), with an official go/no go progress assessment after approximately one year. The scholarship amount is approximately € 2,250 (gross) per month. In addition you will have a maximum of € 4,000 to spend on data collection, printing final thesis, attending conferences, etc. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the UG Graduate School. The UG Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors and academic staff. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing transferable, discipline-related research skills. No tuition fees are charged for doctoral programme at the University of Groningen.

Aalto University offers the PhD-candidate 2-years employment (for the last two years). The salary range, terms and conditions are based on a collective bargaining agreement among Finnish universities. The starting salary for doctoral students at Aalto University is currently around 2,600€ per month (gross). No tuition fees are charged for doctoral programmes at Aalto University.

The double doctoral degree is granted after successfully completing a set of advanced taught courses (40 ECTS), writing a doctoral thesis (usually based on publications) and defending the thesis in a public examination in the Netherlands and Finland. During the PhD, the doctoral candidate will be expected to present at high-level scientific conferences, publish in leading academic journals, and actively participate in the research groups in the University of Groningen and Aalto University. The PhD candidate can choose to follow advanced taught courses in the University of Groningen or Aalto University, or a combination of both.


You may apply for this position until 22 May 11:59pm / before 23 May 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website). Please send your application to us, by submitting the following documents:

1. Motivation letter that addresses your interests and describes how you fit in the advertised position with the applicant’s contact information and an indication of the preferred starting date (max 1 page).
2. Outline of the applicant’s proposed PhD research project and plan, including an overview of related research in the field, important academic theories/debates, research gap, research hypotheses/questions, research methods, data sources, analytical approaches, and research schedule (max 5 pages). A template can be found via this link:
3. CV including details of all academic outputs and contact information for 2 persons who may be contacted to provide a character reference (max 3 pages)
4. Sample of work (e.g. an abstract of your MSc thesis, research article, research project experience relevant to the PhD position, max 1 page).
5. Copy of the applicant’s master’s degree certificate and a transcript of studies (with a clear explanation of the grading scale)
6. Proof of English proficiency (reason for being exempt, or TOEFL/IELTS/other language certificates).

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

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For information you can contact:

  • Dr Samira Ramezani,
  • Prof. Dominic Stead,

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.

Additional information
  • Please check the language requirements


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