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Two PhD Researchers in European Private Law (1,0 fte)

Vacancy number
22-351 11864
Job type
Academic staff
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
22 September 2022
Closing date
14 October 2022 Vacancy closed

Want to do a PhD on consumer protection in the age of digitalisation, platformisation and sustainability? And be part of a groundbreaking and prestigious Vici project with other excellent researchers? Then read this vacancy!

The Civil Law department at Leiden Law School is looking for:

Two PhD Researchers in European Private Law (1,0 fte)

Vacancy number: 22-351 11864

Research Project

The PhD researchers will be part of the project “These Shoes Don’t Fit! – How can consumer interests be protected when consumer identities are increasingly diffuse?”. The project is led by Prof. Vanessa Mak as principal investigator and is funded by a NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) Vici grant.

Within the Vici project, PhD researchers will conduct their own research, examining one of the themes set out in the brief project description below. The PhD projects combine an analysis of comparative and European private law with empirical research. The further development of the projects is open to discussion and researchers will be free to pursue their own research interests within the broader context of the Vici project. The PhD researchers will work closely with the PI as well as two postdocs, and another PhD researcher who has already been selected for the project.

Successful candidates for the position should have a master’s degree in law, with a specialization in private law. Affinity with European law and/or interdisciplinary methods is an advantage.

Project Description

The project breaks new ground by deconstructing the notion of the consumer as a weaker party, and by providing a basis for reconstructing consumer laws along the lines of a contextual approach to consumer protection. While the existing framework served consumer protection goals well, the complexities of modern consumer markets influenced by digitalization, platformisation and sustainability demand a reassessment of existing regulation.

This project aims to test three related hypotheses: 1. that a consumer of digital services may require a different level of protection than a consumer in a physical store, 2. that the regulation of the platform economy requires the introduction of a ‘prosumer’ category and rules tailored to it, and 3. that consumers should be jointly responsible alongside businesses and governments for the pursuit of ecological sustainability and that in this role, as consumer-citizens, they may have to give up some consumer protection.  Focusing on three ideal types of consumers – the digital consumer, the prosumer and the consumer-citizen – the project will examine whether existing consumer laws can sufficiently protect the interests of consumers in these different contexts, and whether tailormade rules should also be developed to accommodate consumers who move to the supply side as ‘prosumers’.

The project will be conducted by a team consisting of the PI, two postdocs, three PhD candidates, and a research assistant. It will combine comparative legal research, philosophy, insights from behavioural studies, and empirical research through stakeholder surveys and interviews. The project focuses on consumer laws in Europe, using Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, and Sweden as representative systems in the EU. Findings may be transposed to other parts of the world.

The project aims to be not just about consumers, but also to involve consumers directly through online surveys, blogs, and participation in project events. The outcomes of the project will be relevant to policymakers, academics in various disciplines (law, philosophy, economics), and to consumers and businesses.

Key Responsibilities

  • Publish academic papers and present at academic conferences;
  • Participate in project workshops and engage with other researchers in the field;
  • Communicate closely with other members of the research team;
  • Teach and/or supervise students in courses offered by the Civil Law department (max. 10% of appointment);
  • Complete a PhD thesis within four years (1,0 FTE).

Selection Criteria

  • A completed master degree in the field of law, with a specialization in private law;
  • Affinity with or an interest in empirical research methods; experience with conducting empirical legal research is an advantage;
  • Excellent research qualities, demonstrated for example by written work such as a master thesis or research paper;
  • An excellent command of the English language; knowledge of the Dutch language or of other European languages is considered an advantage;
  • Excellent communication and personal skills, and enthusiasm for working in a team;
  • Organisational skills and an ability for time-management, enabling timely completion of the PhD thesis.

Our Faculty

With over 5,000 students and 450 members of staff, Leiden Law School is one of the largest faculties in the Netherlands. Yet, in all its diversity, it is still known for its ability to provide education on a small scale. The Faculty focuses on multi-faceted high-level teaching and research, both nationally and internationally. It does so by working with talented people and stimulating and supporting them in their professional and personal ambitions. The Faculty is housed in the beautifully restored Kamerlingh Onnes Building on the Steenschuur in Leiden. Working for the Leiden Law School means working in an inspiring scientific environment. For more information, see www.law.leidenuniv.nl.

Terms & conditions

  • We offer a full-time 4 year position. An appointment is initially for a period of one year, after which an assessment will take place. The appointment will be extended to a total of four years if the outcome of the evaluation is positive.
  • Starting date 1 January 2023.
  •  Salary range from € 2.541 – € 3.247- gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale P , in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Salary scale depends on education and experience. The gross annual salary ranges from € 35.458 - €45.313.
  • Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-  of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.


Enquiries can be made to Prof. Vanessa Mak, email: v.mak@law.leidenuniv.nl.

Information about Leiden Law School can be found at www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/law and about Leiden University at www.leiden.edu

Information on the advanced research qualification and research programmes of the Graduate School of Legal Studies can be found on:


Diversity and inclusion

Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.


Applications for this vacancy can only be made through our applications portal. To apply, please use the blue button at the top of this page. Please ensure that you upload the following documents:

  • A cover letter stating your motivation for this position;
  • A short research proposal of up to two pages in which you explain how you would research one of the project’s hypotheses (either hypothesis 1 on the digital consumer, or hypothesis 3 on the consumer-citizen) in a PhD project. The full project proposal can be obtained by writing an email to Prof. Vanessa Mak, email: v.mak@law.leidenuniv.nl;
  • A curriculum vitae;
  • A digital copy of your master thesis or another major writing sample;
  • Copies of your academic transcripts;
  • The names and contact addresses of two academic referees.

Only applications received before 14 October 2022 can be considered.

The selection procedure will take place in October and November 2022, and selected candidates will be invited for an interview in early November. You are kindly requested to be available in this period.

Acquisition following this advertisement is not appreciated.

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