PhD Scholarship 'New Methods and Perspectives on Demographic Indicators'

Vrije Universiteit Brussel


August 18, 2021


PhD Scholarship 'New Methods and Perspectives on Demographic Indicators'

Category: PhD

1 - Working at the VUB

For already 50 years, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has stood for freedom, equality and connectedness. These values are strongly present on our campuses, in our students as well as our staff. At the VUB, you'll find a diverse collection of personalities: pure innovators and especially people who are 100% their authentic selves. With about 3.500 employees , we are the largest Flemish-speaking employer in Brussels , an international city with which we are all too happy to be connected, and around which our four campuses are located.

Our education and research are grounded in the principles of free research with an eye on human progress. We disapprove of every purely authoritative argument and guarantee the free formation of judgement that is necessary for this basic principle to be incorporated in the community.

The VUB is autonomous and managed democratically. As such, we guarantee fundamental freedoms within our university, as well as the right of the university community to be involved in making and checking university policy.

The mission of the university includes:

  • the development, the transfer and the application of high-standing academic education and scientific research, free from any prejudice;
  • community integration of this in a spirit of social compassion;
  • critical development of everyone in light of the responsibilities borne in the community.
  • 2 - Position description

    The Faculty Social Sciences & Solvay Business School, Department Sociologie , is looking for a PhD-student with a doctoral grant.

    More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate, contains:

  • Context:
  • Big data currently is ubiquitous, in the sciences and elsewhere, and also accrues in various large-scale research facilities within the social sciences. The ability to handle big data well is a prerequisite for any real-world deployment of machine learning and intelligent systems;
  • At Interface Demography, we do have a huge body of scientific data (including population register and large scale surveys). These data have been analysed for assessing several demographic and societal challenges in domains such as inequality, population issues, health, mortality, fertility, labour market, discrimination and migration. In order to further the scientific work at Interface Demography, concepts and methods dealing with the exploitation of big data need to be further developed. This ambition constitutes an excellent starting point for scientific work within computational social science, a research thread with a strong potential of high-end scientific output. We now seek to fill a respective vacancy for a PhD student as soon as possible;
  • Tasks:
  • We expect you to prepare a doctoral dissertation (under the supervision of Tuba Bircan and Sylvie Gadeyne) in the fields of Sociology, in which you work with several databases such as Belgian population register, large scale surveys (e.g., LFS, EU-SILC, EQLS, etc.) to map and estimate demographic indicators;
  • Assess use of different Big Data sources such as social media data, internet-based data (in combination with traditional data sources) for modeling demographic challenges;
  • Work on the challenges and opportunities of data harmonization;
  • For your PhD you make use of machine learning algorithms and quantitative methods.
  • You are expected to work closely on data management and support the ID staff with the IT related tasks (max. 25% of your time).
  • For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base.

    3 - Profile

    What do we expect from you?

    You've attained a Master's degree in demography, sociology, political science, geography, statistics, data science, computer science/informatics or in a related discipline, e.g., mathematics, physics;

  • You should demonstrate academic excellence and rigor as well as curiosity;
  • You are familiar with database and/or Big Data technology;
  • You have knowledge of, or a willingness to familiarise themselves with, current research into new and innovative data science techniques;
  • You have great affinity with social and global demographic issues;
  • You have excellent writing and analytical skills;
  • Proficiency in English is a must;
  • Good programming skills is appreciated;

  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.

  • 4 - Offer

    Are you going to be our new colleague?

    You'll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship , for 12 months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 01/10/2021.

    You'll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government.

    IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of your enrolment as a doctorate student at the university.

    At the VUB, you're guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

    As well as this, you'll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance ;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise ;
  • Ecocheques ;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants ;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work- life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).
  • 5 - Interested?

    Is this the job you've been dreaming of?

    Send us ONLINE and at latest on 10/08/2021 :

  • your CV;
  • your letter of motivation, including a concise statement of the reason for applying;
  • a copy or the extended summary of your master thesis in English;
  • a copy of your detailed study results;
  • the contact information of 2 referees;
  • the highest degree you've attained (not applicable for VUB alumni).
  • Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Tuba Bircan and Sylvie Gadeyne at - or on 02/614.81.50.

    Job interviews will take place online in the fourth week of August 2021 (23-27 August).

    Would you like to know what it's like to work at the VUB? Go to www. and find all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues.

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