PhD Student

Last application date
Aug 31, 2023 00:00
RE21 - Department of Interdisciplinary Study of Law, Private Law and Business Law
Limited duration
You hold a university degree in history, law, or other related field that has been completed with above-average success. Applicants should hold a master’s degree at the time the PhD contract is signed.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

The Ghent Institute for Legal History is looking for 5 PhD Candidates who will be working within the project ‘Rethinking emergency from a legal historical perspective: contexts, actors, practices 1914-2020’ (EMERGE), which is funded by the European Research Council (ERC, ERC Consolidator Grant 2022, no 101087876). Set within the Faculty of Law and Criminology, a faculty home to many academics of diverse backgrounds, the Institute is a dynamic venue fostering rigorous ground-breaking research in legal history with a focus on legal theory and contextual analysis. You will develop and grow in research, both individually and as part of a team of ambitious scholars.

As PhD Candidate in legal history, you will analyse the historical use of emergency powers and emergency legislation during the 20th century and early 21st century in Europe. The project EMERGE hypothesizes that the enactment of emergency legislation determines substantial and lasting changes to fundamental rights, the principle of the rule of law as well as the commitment to liberal values of equality before the law and universalism of rights. This hypothesis will be tested against five key moments in the constitutional and legal history of five European jurisdictions during the last century (c.1914-c.2020). The PhD Candidates will analyse the historical context, the law and the practice of emergency in five countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Romania, and the United Kingdom). The first PhD position is concerned with Belgium, the second PhD position with France, the third one with Germany (including the GDR), the fourth one with Romania and the fifth one with the United Kingdom (with a focus of Northern Ireland).
An appropriate level of familiarity with the law, language(s), legal and political culture of the relevant country is required.

Your key responsibility is to develop and complete a doctoral dissertation under the supervision of the Project Leader and within the framework of the project. Doctoral students are expected to publish and disseminate their research findings in close co-operation with the other research group members.

Our offer:

We offer an attractive and international work environment with unparalleled research infrastructure and an excellent working atmosphere. The candidate will have the opportunity to take part in an interdisciplinary international research group, benefit from continuous scientific exchange, a comprehensive library and the possibility of research stays abroad.

  • We offer you a PhD scholarship as a 1-year contract contract with an additional 3 years after a positive evaluation.
  • PhD positions are currently paid to approximately €2.139,43 - €2.165,43 after taxes.
  • The positions are fixed-term appointments for one year that can be extended for three additional years based on evaluation.

The Faculty of Law and Criminology strives for gender equality and diversity. We welcome applications from individuals with disabilities. We also seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women to apply. Likewise, applications from persons underrepresented in science and research with regard to gender, age, professional and cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation and nationality are encouraged.

Job profile

  • You hold a university degree in history, law, or other related field that has been completed with above-average success. Applicants should hold a master’s degree at the time the PhD contract is signed.
  • A good knowledge of English is expected. Knowledge of additional languages relevant to the regional focus is required, as follows: Belgium (Dutch and French); France (French); Germany (German); Romania (Romanian).
  • Your curriculum vitae shows the potential to conduct research internationally at a high level. You work rigorously and are able to handle deadlines. You work independently and have a strong interest in theoretical, interdisciplinary, archival, and comparative work. You have the ability to play an active collaborative role in the research group.

How to apply

You can address your application to the Project leader, dr. Cosmin Cercel (

Please attach the following documents to your application as PDF files:

  • A Cover letter naming your research project and explaining to what extent your profile meets the selection criteria.
  • A detailed CV including a list of any publications you might have.
  • Copies of your university certificates.
  • A copy of your Master's degree if you have already obtained it at the time of applying. If not, you must be able to demonstrate that the diploma will be obtained before 1 October.
  • An outline of the planned research project (up to 2 pages, not including bibliography). In this document you explain briefly the theoretical background and the aims of your research in the history of emergency powers and legislation of the respective country/jurisdiction.

Your application must be submitted online by the closing date of August 31, 2023. Outstanding candidates will be invited to an interview in September 2023.

You are encouraged to contact project leader dr. Cosmin Cercel ( for any inquiries regarding the project’s scientific aspects.