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Job vacancy: Fulltime PhD-scholarship (100%) on Urban Criminology

  • May 17, 2022

Research Topic:

The Crime and Society Research Group (CRiS) at the VUB is looking for a PhD candidate to develop and conduct a 4-year doctoral research in Urban Criminology. The research topic is suggested by you, but needs to include three main themes: urban conflicts, public space, and Brussels. Your research needs to tackle conflicts that take place in the city and can benefit from a criminological approach. Conflicts that include violence, either physical or symbolic, are certainly a fit but you can also extend the understanding of urban conflicts to broader issues or order/disorder. Your research addresses public spaces and the theoretical and methodological discussions that come with it. You can critically work, for example, with theoretical discussions around Lefebvrian's concept of the right to the city or the current discussions around place making. Methodologically, your research could employ qualitative methods, mixed methods, or even experiment with walking interviews or other creative (digital) approaches to study public spaces. If you can propose a project that dialogues with Participatory Action Research (PAR), that is definitely a plus. We see many potential topics  here such as protests, harassment, nightlife conflicts, fear of crime and of the other, the use of public spaces by undocumented migrants, hostile architectures, the surveillance and securitization of public spaces, but we don't want to influence you too much in your choice. Feel free to surprise us as we are open to other creative topics as long as they are about Brussels and involve the participation of local actors. For further inspiration for potential topics, you can also check the online profiles of the supervisor of this PhD, Lucas Melgaço, and the two other members of the selection committee: Els Enhus and Mattias de Backer.


What are the requirements for the position?

  • You should have a master’s in criminology, sociology, geography, urban studies or other social sciences. Previous experiences with urban criminology topics are a plus. Candidates with a specialization in topics related to smart cities are also encouraged to apply. Do you have a training in a completely different area? In this case, please contact us before sending your full application so that we can advise you if it is worth giving a try. Master students who are expected to graduate in September 2022 are welcome to apply.
  • You are proficient in English and can independently write and give presentations in this language. As it will be a research project about Brussels, it is crucial that you speak either French or Dutch fluently to be able to communicate with local actors.
  • You are a team player whose academic ambitions are balanced with solidary practices towards the other members of the team.


What do we expect from you if you are chosen for the position?

  • We expect you to prepare conference presentations, academic articles and a doctoral dissertation in urban criminology in which you examine urban conflict in Brussels public spaces.
  • You will play an important position in organizing debates, talks, seminars and animating the research pillar Crime and the City. This is one of the 4 research pillars that form our Crime and Society Research Group.
  • You are expected to apply for external funding.
  • You will support the editorial team of the journal Criminological Encounters.
  • You are expected to support the teaching staff in educational tasks. This means you will be the teaching assistant for the course Crime and the City and will be asked support the department in educational tasks such as exam supervisions and the supervisions of traineeships. All these tasks should not take more than 10% of your working time.


What we offer:

  • A 4-years fulltime PhD-scholarship, renewable on a yearly basis.
  • A dynamic and stimulating research environment in a welcoming green campus and the opportunity to work in the vivid Brussels’ atmosphere.
  • A challenging job with sometimes strict deadlines but at the same time quite some flexibility for you to organize your time in a convenient way.
  • A monthly netto scholarship of about € 2.000. Health insurance and other benefits.
  • Full reimbursement of (public transport) commuting expenses within Belgium.
  • Suggested (but not fixed) starting date: October 1st, 2022.


Your application must include the following attachments:

  • A brief curriculum vitae (max 2 pages).
  • A concise statement of the reason for applying (max 2 pages).
  • A copy of your master thesis.
  • A copy of your study results (and-if already available - a copy of your master diploma).
  • A 3-page concept note of the project you would like to develop in the context of this PhD. Don't forget to include a brief explanation of the methodology.


Applying for this job?

  • Deadline for application: July 25th, 2022.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview on Monday, August 22nd, 2022 as of 10am at the Etterbeek campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
  • Your application should be written in English.


Apply by sending an e-mail with the documents mentioned above to Prof. Lucas Melgaço, Prof. Els Enhus and Dr. Mattias de Backer.