Institute-for-European-Studies-IES-Vrije-Universiteit-Brussel-VUB-logoThe Institute for European Studies (IES) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is calling for applications for one full-time doctoral researcher on the theme of European Geopolitics and Strategy. Prospective candidates are invited to submit project proposals in accordance with the instructions below by 27 May 2016.

Project description

Geopolitical competition has returned to Europe with a vengeance. The Russian revanchist push in Eastern Europe and the arc of instability alongside North Africa and the Levant put the European continent at risk. At the same time, the geopolitical and geoeconomic rise of Asia, the US strategic “rebalance” towards that region, and the changing character of military-technological competition present a number of challenges and opportunities for Europeans, and compel them to think more globally, i.e. beyond their backyard. Within this broad framework, PhD project proposals are invited to explore any of the following sub-themes, which may also intersect:

  • Geopolitical competition in the neighbourhood. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the emergence of an Islamist caliphate in Syria and Iraq have confronted Europeans with zero-sum struggles for geopolitical influence in and around Europe. Projects may explore the evolving balance of power in all its manifestations in the broader European neighbourhood and/or specific parts thereof (the Arctic, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel).
  • The rise of Asia and the US “rebalance.” Europe and Europeans cannot avoid being influenced by global dynamics. Projects may explore the geopolitical impact of the rise of Asia and/or US “retrenchment” from Europe/the Middle East on European security and prosperity. Of particular interest are geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean region and Eurasia, Europe-India relations, Russia’s ‘pivot’ to Asia, Sino-US relations, or Japan’s ‘normalisation’, as they may impinge on Europe.
  • Geo-economic and informational instruments of modern statecraft. Whether globally or regionally, geopolitical competition relies considerably on economic instruments of power (trade agreements, sanctions, monetary policy), cyberwarfare and strategies of (dis)information. Projects may explore in what ways these different instruments of power can be harnessed for meeting strategic ends, and/or how they may interact with each other.
  • The return of hard power. Mounting geopolitical competition, in Europe and beyond, has rekindled debates on nuclear deterrence, anti-access and areadenial strategies, the use of special operations forces and the future of air-, landand sea-power. Projects may envisage engaging in comparative analysis of such hard power capabilities of European countries, NATO and potential adversaries.


A successful applicant must:

  • hold a Master’s degree in International Relations/political science, strategic studies, European studies or social sciences writ large, with excellent study results
  • be fully fluent in English
  • have a thorough knowledge of European security


We offer employment as a full time doctoral researcher.

Contract: full-time research grant for one year, renewable on an annual basis for a maximum of four years. Extension of the contract is subject to the agreement of the doctoral committee. Remuneration is at the level of a full-time research assistant at a Flemish university (i.e. approximately € 1.900 net per month) and includes contributions for social security. Secondary employment is not allowed.

The IES requires that at least a (co)promotor of the project be from the IES. Cosupervision from other Belgian or foreign universities is encouraged. Successful candidates are expected to base themselves in Brussels to work at the IES premises. Office space and equipment will be provided along with a budget for travelling and other research-related expenses.

The PhD researcher will be expected to devote the majority of his/her time to research, with contribution expected for occasional teaching activities, to event organisation and to the overall development of the institute. The researcher will prepare papers, attend conferences and produce research publications as she/he carries out the PhD.

The IES is committed to creating and supporting a diverse work environment and is an equal opportunity employer.

Read more and apply here.

Permanent link to this article:

Read previous post:
Senior Policy Analyst – Migration policies – EPC

The European Policy Centre is seeking a Senior Policy Analyst to work on its European Migration and Diversity (EMD) programme. The...