PhD Position ‘An Integrated Semantic and Cognitive Model of Presuppositional Dependencies’
Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities

PhD position ‘An integrated semantic and cognitive model of presuppositional dependencies’ (1.0 FTE)


Job description

We are looking for a PhD candidate in the project ‘An integrated semantic and cognitive model of presuppositional dependencies’. The project aims to build computational models of the processes that allow us to incrementally build interpretations while we read a text. These models will be hybrid in the sense that they combine linguistic factors familiar from theories of discourse semantics/ pragmatics and more generally cognitive factors. The empirical component of the project will consist of eye-tracking experiments as well as annotating an eye-tracking corpus with relevant information. The modelling component will involve simulating behavioural data connected to the processing of semantic interpretations.

The project is funded by the NWO Open Competition programme and will be conducted at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Principal Investigator (PI) is Rick Nouwen.


Taks for the PhD candidate will include:

  • completion and defence of a PhD thesis within four years;
  • regular presentation of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publication of at least two peer-reviewed articles in established international journals;
  • co-organization of project workshops and conferences;
  • participation in training programmes and expert meetings scheduled for the project group;
  • participation in selected training programmes scheduled for the Research Institute, Graduate School and the National Research School.



We are looking for a candidate with:


  • a (soon to be completed) (research-oriented) Master’s degree in a relevant discipline (Linguistics, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence) with a focus on psycholinguistic experimentation and/or computational (cognitive) modelling;
  • team working skills;
  • excellent English oral proficiency, academic writing and presentation skills;
  • ability to meet deadlines and work both as an independent researcher and as a team member;
  • good organizational, social and communication skills.



We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE), starting 1 December 2018, initially for a period of 18 months. Upon good performance and a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 30 months (4 years in total). The gross salary ranges between €2,266 and €2,897 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information is available at: working at Utrecht University.

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability.


This research is conducted within the Language, Logic and Information group of the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS. Other research groups at UiL OTS focus on Language Variation, Linguistic Theory and Language Acquisition, Language Processing and Language Pathology, Language and Education, Language and Communication. The UiL OTS research staff comprises approximately 20 full Professors, a dozen Postdocs and roughly 40 PhD students.

UiL OTS is part of the Faculty of Humanities which has approximately seven thousand students and nine hundred staff members. It comprises four Research Institutes: The Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Institute of History and Art History, Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICON) and the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS (UiL OTS).


With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact the PI, Rick Nouwen, or the Research Coordinator at UiL OTS, Maaike Schoorlemmer. See our website for an elaborate project description.


If you are interested in applying for this position, please submit digital copies of:

  • a CV including full personal and academic details;
  • a motivation letter;
  • certified copies of relevant diplomas and grade transcripts;
  • your Master’s thesis and other relevant publications you can provide;
  • names and full contact details of two academic referees.


Please include your name and a reference to this position in the filenames and use the application button below to apply.

The application deadline is October 1st 2018. Interviews, live or by videoconference, will be held on October 16th, 2018. In preparation for the interview, you will be given a short research task that you need to report on.


The application deadline is

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