PhD Starting Grant in the Field of European Migration and Border Politics

KU Leuven
  • Location
    Brussels, Belgium
  • Sector
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Posted
    Sep 20

Position description

LINES (Leuven International and European Studies) is the KU Leuven’s institute for the study of international politics and European affairs at the Faculty of Social Sciences. It hosts research on a range of topics, including the European Union’s foreign policy, migration and border politics, the external trade policies of the EU and the United States, climate change and energy policy in Europe and China, the regional and multilateral dimensions of global governance, peace and development (in close collaboration with the Centre for Research on Peace and Development), the politics of nationalism and minority protection, and current affairs in Eurasia, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Balkans.

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At LINES, we are currently establishing and developing a new research group that focuses on European migration and border politics, specifically dedicated to the protection and lack of protection of refugees and vulnerable migrants related to (the crossing of) different kinds of EU borders. Possible subprojects examine, for instance, the situation and protection of vulnerable labor migrants from non-Schengen EU countries working in Schengen countries, refugee protection at the EU’s external borders, or migrant routes and protection at externalized EU borders or border zones in Africa or the Middle East. We will conduct research into different border regimes in and outside Europe and into how vulnerable migrants are treated and how this relates to various inclusion and exclusion mechanisms. Using qualitative research methods developed in and related to critical security studies, we will particularly investigate how crisis narratives and tools are used to shape, develop and revise protection regimes around such vulnerable groups, and how they and other involved local, national and international stakeholders deal with these conditions.



We are looking for a curious and motivated candidate, with a completed master’s degree in the social sciences and/or the humanities and a demonstratable research affinity with migration and border politics, specifically in the research context described above. Knowledge of critical security studies and securitization theory will be considered a plus. Also, those familiar with pioneering methods in anthropology or the humanities to examine migration and border politics are encouraged to apply. The candidate has developed a preliminary PhD proposal or is currently doing so. During their appointment, the candidate will develop their doctoral project further and submit an innovative and strong proposal to a national or international scientific fund.  Examination surveillance and attendance at study fairs for the Faculty of Social Sciences belong to the task.


The ideal candidate:

- graduated with excellent marks and/or distinction

- has outstanding analytical and methodological skills

- has excellent oral and written English language skills. Other language skills are an asset, particularly when these skills relate to the languages spoken by specific groups of vulnerable (labor) migrants or refugees

- has study and/or research experience abroad

- has a talent for combining personal initiative and team spirit

- is able to work and do research independently

- lives in Belgium or is willing to move there



We offer a PhD starting grant for a fulltime position, starting on January 1, 2023, initially for one year and with a possible extension of a maximum of one year after positive evaluation. We will support the candidate in developing her/his own research trajectory and, during the appointment, in applying for funding to continue the doctoral project at LINES at KU Leuven’s Faculty of Social Sciences. More information on scholarship and benefits for KU Leuven PhD students can be found under the rubric ‘doctoral scholarship holder’ at:


Application instructions

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