Universiteit Twente vacancy search engine

PhD Candidate Geo-technologies and the datafication of migrant cities

Vacancy details

General information


The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) 

The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) provides international postgraduate education, research and project services in the field of geo-information science (GIS) and earth observation. We use remote sensing and GIS for collecting spatial data. Our aim is to contribute to the international exchange of knowledge, focusing on capacity building and institutional development in developing countries and emerging economies. As part of a ‘people-first' university of technology, we ensure that everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people and society through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We also seek to sustain and expand our role as a leader in academic social entrepreneurship.

As an employer, the ITC Faculty offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With our Faculty, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customizable conditions.   



Publication start date


Publication date


Publication end date


Vacancy category


Minimum contract hours


Maximum contract hours


Position description


Academic staff - PhD

Job title

PhD Candidate Geo-technologies and the datafication of migrant cities

Minimum salary


Maximum salary


Job description

Big data technologies are the backbone of a datafication of migration and of cities. This includes the use of geospatial machine learning applications (or Geo-AI) and automated decision-making systems (ADS) and other applications that link locations and individual characteristics. In urban areas we are seeing an increasing use of big data technologies to streamline and optimise service provision and to keep a tap on urban populations – migrants and non-migrants alike.

Cities have traditionally been places where migrants play a crucial part in the local economy and where non-citizen rights are protected. At this point it is unclear if cities will be able to uphold this role as new data analytics are being incorporated into how cities are run, how urban economies function and how non-citizen residents are counted, categorised and how their movement is controlled within cities by new geo-information infrastructures. There is a growing awareness that data technologies tend to exasperate existing social inequalities. We lack knowledge about how migration technologies – including those depending on locational data – come to matter in cities and how cities might counter or entrench vulnerabilities of migrants as data subjects. At the intersection of migration, urban and critical data studies we have to start developing research exploring emergent topographies of ‘digital urban borderlands’ – the socio-spatial configurations that result from the intersection of a datafication of migration and of urban processes. Specifically, we need more theorising and empirical explorations of the processes by which Geo-AI, ADS, digital identification documents and other data technologies with geo-spatial components come to matter for migrant cities and what logics drive the creation of such infrastructures. This is an especially urgent matter now as the COVID-19 Pandemic has accelerated the development of such technologies.

Your task is to develop and work on a PhD project that engages with elucidating the nexus between the datafication of both migration and cities, specifically looking into the processes by which new geo-spatial technologies get introduced and how various actors are part of this process. The fitting use of innovative and transdisciplinary methodologies will be encouraged as will be a research focus on or in the global south. Your investigation of digital urban borderlands should be based on a specific city and/or focused on a specific set of geo-spatial data technologies. Your personal goals, background and interests will determine how you tackle the challenges presented by datafication and urban diversification. Specific tasks will be discussed and defined in further discussions. It is expected that you spend about 20% of your time on engaging with teaching or department duties (this can also include advising MSc students). 


We are looking for a creative and motivated candidate who meets the following requirements:


  • A MSc in Urban Studies, Human Geography, Urban Planning, Urban Sociology, STS, Geo-Information Science with a social science orientation, or a related field preferably obtained no longer than 5 years ago.
  • An affinity for using innovative preferably mixed-methods methodologies
  • Excellent written and spoken English language skills
  • Excellent digital literacy skills
  • Good interpersonal communication skills
  • An aptitude for critical thinking and research ambitions that are driven by both theoretical and empirical curiosity
  • Self-driven work ethic and ability to work both independently and in a team
  • An interest in taking ownership of projects and seeing them to completion (including  publications). 


  • Knowledge of geo-information science (e.g. knowledge of GIS, remote sensing or sensor systems) and geo-data technologies
  • Fieldwork experience, preferably in lower income countries
  • An ambition to develop an academic career by conducting high-quality and if feasible reproducible research and an affinity to open science

We offer

We offer you an inspiring multidisciplinary and challenging international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.

You will be fulltime employed for a period of four years. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch Universities.

  • A starting salary of € 2,395.00 in the first year and a salary of € 3,061.00 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 41 holiday days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs;
  • Costs for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.

Information and application

For more information you can contact Dr. Fran Meissner (e-mail: f.meissner@utwente.nl). You are also invited to visit our homepage.

Please submit your application before 7 June 2021 (choose “apply here” below). Your application should include a motivation letter and your Curriculum Vitae.

If you are shortlisted by the Selection Committee, you will be asked to submit the extended outline of an initial project idea that fits with the theme outlined in this call (you should already briefly indicate this idea in your letter of motivation). Then interviews will be held with the strongest applicants, according to the Selection Committee.

The projected start date for this position will be between 1/10/21 and 31/01/22.

About the department

The department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo Information Management (PGM) of ITC works on the linkage of geospatial technologies with both Urban Planning & Management and Land Administration. The department takes the role of people as stakeholder in all processes central and looks both at understanding the past and the present, as well as predicting and supporting governance decisions for the sustainable future of urban regions and its hinterland. The key focus of the work is on developments in the global South and is highly related to global challenges as described in the SDGs.

Position localisation

Job location

Nederland, Enschede, Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB


Drienerlolaan 5 7522 NB Enschede

Candidate criteria

Minimum level of education required

5. University education