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Education PhD programmes PhD Scholarship Programme

9 PhD scholarships in Data Science and Systems Complexity (B010-18220)

Scholarship opportunities

We offer 9 full scholarships for PhD projects within our research theme Data Science and Systems Complexity (DSSC) (

The mission of the DSSC (established in 2015 at the Faculty of Science and Engineering) is to understand and design complex systems and processes through massive data. DSSC brings together more than 70 researchers from disciplines with an immediate interest in the handling of Big Data and Complexity (mathematics, statistics, computer science, artificial intelligence, engineering, astronomy, physics, bioinformatics) who address three broad research directions: Adaptive Models and Big Data; Complex Systems and Engineering; Advanced Instrumentation and Big Data.

The DSSC approaches Adaptive models and Big Data by connecting data and complexity science: our research hinges on the combination of statistics and computer science in statistical machine learning, on the preoccupation with explanatory models in statistics and on complex systems modelling as research focus. In Complex Systems and Engineering the DSSC experts do not only want to understand complex systems, but also get a grip on them to control and manage such systems. In Advanced Instrumentation and Big Data, the DSSC focuses on handling extremely faint signals, high precision and stability, cryogenic temperatures, high data volumes and high data transmission speeds for the design of complex instruments.

We are looking for talented students who wish to design their own PhD research project on a topic within the scope of the research theme Data Science and Systems Complexity. Please click on the following link for the list of topics and associated supervisors:

As a PhD scholarship student, you will develop your own research project in consultation with the associated supervisor(s). You will conduct independent and original scientific research, report results via peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and ultimately a PhD thesis. The PhD thesis has to be completed within four years. Being part of a cutting-edge research programme, you will receive training in the form of hands-on instruction, advanced courses, summer/winter schools, as well as complementary workshops on generic research and transferable skills. Special attention is paid to training activities directed towards your future (academic or non-academic) career after the PhD trajectory, in the context of our Career Perspective Series.


We are looking for highly motivated, proactive and diligent researchers with good communication skills and the ability to work in an interdisciplinary team. Demonstrable command of the English language is a prerequisite. Successful candidates have completed a Master’s degree (or equivalent) that is relevant to the topic of interest.


The University of Groningen is a comprehensive research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has been our top priority for over four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is the largest faculty within the University. We offer first-rate education and research in a wide range of science and engineering areas, from mathematics and astronomy to mechanical engineering and pharmacy. Our community has an open and informal character with students and staff from around the world.


The position is offered within the UG PhD Scholarship Programme. This programme is issued by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW) within the framework of the national PhD Scholarship Programme. PhD scholarship students receive a scholarship (stipend) of € 2,181 per month (gross) from the University of Groningen for a period of four years. PhD scholarship students are not employed by the university. PhD scholarship students have therefore different rights, obligations, and a different income than employed PhD candidates. Please consider the terms and conditions of the PhD Scholarship Programme on the following website:


The selection procedure will proceed in three stages:
1. Application (before 1/4)
2. Development of a full research proposal (1/4 – 29/4)
3. Assessment by selection committee (29/4 – 1/6)

1. Application
Please upload your complete application in English until 1 April 2020 11:59 pm Dutch local time. Combine all required documents in a single PDF file and upload it via the online application form as your letter of motivation (click on 'Apply' below on the advertisement on the university website to access the application form). Please use the following format to complete your application file:

a) Title page (1 page max.):
• Topic number and name (see above link for list of topics)
• Name of the applicant
• MSc degree and university
• Name(s) of the intended supervisor(s)
• Intended starting date (1 July, 1 August, or, ultimately, 1 September)

b) Cover letter (1 page max.): a letter introducing yourself, describing your motivation and qualifications to conduct scientific research in the topic of your choice, and your expectations of the PhD programme
c) CV (2 pages max.)
d) Academic records and a certified copy or scan of your MSc diploma (or equivalent; provide a certified University letter stating when your graduation will be between the application deadline and start of the project)
e) Proof of sufficient competence in English (
f) Names and contact details of two academic references
g) Initial research project idea: brief description of the research question(s) that you wish to address with respect to the topic of your interest and your approach to address the research question(s) (500 words max.)

Applications that do not satisfy the requested format will not be taken into consideration.

2. Development of a full research proposal
The application files of candidates will first be assessed by the intended supervisors. On the basis of the observed qualifications of the candidates, the quality and originality of the candidates’ initial research project idea, and the fit with the supervisors’ ongoing research, (teams of) supervisors will invite up to three candidates to develop their initial project idea into a full research proposal of approximately 1500-2000 words (excluding references). The proposal must include:

• Introduction, importance, state of the art, fit with Data Science and Systems Complexity
• Main goal(s) and research question(s)
• Approach and methods
• Feasibility, research budget and timeline.

In the course of this stage, (teams of) supervisors will nominate at most two candidate(s) for a PhD scholarship to the selection committee.

3. Interviews and final selection by the selection committee
A selection committee will assess both the application and full research proposal of nominated candidates, using the following criteria:

• qualifications of the candidate: grades, research experience, motivation
• the research proposal: i.e. quality, originality, feasibility, and fit with the (interdisciplinary) research theme
• the admission requirements of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The highest ranked candidates will be invited to an interview with the selection committee. This interview will take place in May 2020.

Publication of the call: 28 February 2020
Deadline for application: 1 April 2020
Deadline full research proposal: 29 April 2020
Interviews: May 2020
Announcement of selected/rejected candidates: 1 June 2020
Start of the position: between 1 July and 1 September 2020

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Dr Stefania Costache, Scientific coordinator Centre for Data Science and Systems Complexity, s.costache

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