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PhD scholarship in social data science, Sociology and Social Work

At the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology and Social Work a PhD scholarship in Social Data Science, is open for appointment on September 1st or as soon as possible.

Job description

Big data, in the form of register data, web-data and community-level data is more available now than ever before. Even though the use of such data has increased dramatically, the utilization of these data for developing algorithms and neural networks (AI) in relation to welfare and social cohesion is less explored.

If you have knowledge about and competences in Data Science in combination with knowledge about Sociology, Social Welfare and/or Social Work, and if you are highly motivated for contributing to addressing this challenge, you might be the right candidate for this position.

The position will be affiliated to SOCMAP (www.socmap.aau.dk) and SCOPAS (www.scopas.aau.dk) as a part of a cross-disciplinary research team at Department of Sociology and Social Work, Faculty of Social Science. SOCMAP and SCOPAS will in collaboration ensure supervision, transdisciplinary collaboration, academic development and possibilities for international collaboration during the Ph.D.-period.


The Ph.D. project is expected to utilize already developed hyper-local neighborhood models in combination with learning algorithms. The learning algorithms merge large amounts of quantitative register data and survey data with qualitative data on motives, preferences, routines and practices on an individual and collective level in a neural network architecture. In that way it encompasses a whole set of social characteristics ranging from the level of individuals, families, local communities, institutions, policies and welfare services that shape social life and can provide differentiated and geographically localized detailed knowledge about welfare, social differences and similarity, inequality, prosperity and growth that shape important conditions for social sustainability.

Based on this existing set of learning algorithms, the PhD-project is expected to develop algorithms that enable a more nuanced understanding of welfare at a local but collective level with a focus on social differences and similarities in terms of forms of and needs for public support for welfare. This can include various forms and dimensions of welfare (e.g. health and social welfare in general and in relation to public services) and inclusion/exclusion and support for families, groups, institutions, associations etc. within local communities or areas.

Moreover, the PhD-project is expected to base this development in knowledge about different risk score algorithms and how to test their precision in terms of predicting risk in relation to welfare ranging from individual level risk scores to aggregate level. The purpose is to explore the possibilities for going beyond existing structural and institutionalized ways of using algorithms within the public sector, and to develop algorithms that support new approaches to organizing welfare and social sustainability (perceived as e.g. transparency, solidarity, equality, social justice) at a collective level. This is valuable knowledge for policy and decision makers involved in the organization, distribution and legitimization of welfare locally and nationally.

Qualification requirements

The PhD scholarship has a duration of three years. Applicants to the PhD scholarship must hold a degree equivalent to a Danish Master’s degree. Applicants enrolled at a Danish Master programme who expect to graduate before the date of appointment must forward statement from thesis supervisor, verified transcripts, a copy of thesis contract and documentation for the date of their final exam.

The completion of the scholarship will be in accordance with the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities No 1039 of 27 August 2013 (the PhD Order), and it is a prerequisite for allocation of a scholarship that enrolment as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Social Sciences takes place. According to the PhD Order, the PhD study comprises among other requirements: Participation in active research environments, including stays at other, mainly foreign, research institutions, private research enterprises etc.

Please find information on admission requirements for PhD positions on the website of the Doctoral School.
Applicants must hold a relevant Master degree and demonstrate:
  • Knowledge about Data Science in combination with Sociology, Social Welfare and/or Social work
  • Qualifications in terms of conducting data science and developing AI technology based on big data sets and algorithmic thinking.
  • Academic and/or practical experience in working with social issues, social welfare, public welfare and/or social services and relevant actors within this area
  • Ability to work both as an independent researcher and in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary research environment as well as external partners in science and the public sector
  • Commitment, dedication, enthusiasm and ability to conduct and advance research that combines data science and social science for the purpose of generating new knowledge for welfare and social sustainability.

Application requirements 
  • letter of motivation
  • Application form
  • project proposal (approx. 5 pages) containing the research project title, an outline of the course of study and a description of the overall problem areas
  • information on which language the PhD thesis is expected to be written in
  • curriculum vitae
  • diplomas confirming academic degrees (Master degree), including academic transcripts
  • Applicants WHO are planning to complete a doctoral thesis in English and who do not have English as a first language or WHO have not completed an English language-based Master's programme (or an equivalent educational achievement in English) shall provide documentation that they have passed one of the following official tests with the respective minimum score: IELTS (band score):7 TOEFL (paper-based): 600, TOEFL (internet-based): 100. 
  • Co-author statement. If publications that have been written in cooperation with others are submitted, a declaration from each of the authors must be enclosed. The declaration must state the extent of the applicant’s contribution to the total work and be signed by the authors.
  • Application for credit transfer if relevant.
The complete application including attachments shall be sent electronically by selecting the "apply online" function on AAU’s job-portal https://www.stillinger.aau.dk/ (not other online job portals that may have reposted the position).
Please note that zipped files are not supported by the recruitment system, please upload only Word or PDF files.
The assessment of the applicants will be undertaken by an expert assessment committee.
Shortlisting will be applied. This means that subsequent to the deadline for applications, the head of department supported by the chair of the assessment committee will select candidates for assessment. All applicants will be informed whether they will be assessed or not. The selected applicants will be informed of the composition of the assessment committee, and each applicant will have the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that applies to the applicant in question. When the employment process has been finalized, a final rejection will be sent to the applicants who are not considered.

The Faculty draws your attention to the fact that the applicant's project description may be tested for plagiarism in the IT system iThenticate.
You may obtain further information regarding the academic contents of the position from Head of Department, contact Trond Beldo Klausen tbk@socsci.aau.dk Phone: 9940 2602

For information about SOCMAP contact Anja Jørgensen anjaj@socsci.aau.dk

For information about SCOPAS contact Maria Appel Nissen maan@socsci.aau.dk

If you have questions regarding the procedure of applying for the position, please contact Mette Bjerring, mb@adm.au.dk


Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of 26 June 2019, on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the Ministry of Finance current Circular on the employment structure at Danish Universities.

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