PhD Student

Last application date
Sep 12, 2021 00:00
PS03 - Department of Political Sciences
Limited duration
Master in Political Science, EU Studies, International Relations, Economics or equivalent
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We offer a full-time Ph.D. position to examine the security of supply implications of large-scale imports of hydrogen and derived fuels in Belgium. Given the volumes of hydrogen needed to fully decarbonize the economy, by 2050, hydrogen imports could represent a significant amount of Belgium’s energy supply. Over time, Belgium could thus trade its dependence on imports of oil and gas for dependence on imports of sustainable fuels like hydrogen or derivatives (e.g., ammonia, or synthetic methanol, e-diesel, e-kerosene, ….).

This project has three related goals: (1) to develop a range of scenarios to map out the scope for sustainable fuel imports and identify potential supplier countries and trade routes, across different value chains; (2) to compare the security of supply risks of trade in synthetic fuels with other energy commodities such as crude oil, piped natural gas, LNG, and electricity; and (3) to discuss regulatory options at various levels (regional, federal, European, global) to govern hydrogen trade and associated risks (certification, strategic stocks, ownership unbundling, etc.).

Your research will be hosted at the Department of Political Science, Ghent University. You will work under the supervision of Prof. Thijs Van de Graaf and co-supervision of Prof. Ronnie Belmans (KU Leuven). The position is initially offered for one year. Upon positive evaluation, the position can be renewed 3 times for a maximum of four years. The candidate will prepare a doctoral dissertation. You will have the opportunity to follow training sessions (including through the Doctoral Schools), attend international conferences, and spend a research stay abroad.

This Ph.D. position is part of the Energy Transition Fund project BE-HyFE which aims to establish a core group of 16 broadly trained and highly networked early-stage researchers who can support the Belgian industry in finding both technological and societal solutions to essential hydrogen challenges. The project offers you, next to an inspiring group dynamic with fellow researchers, a chance to establish specific hard and soft skills by means of a specialized training program (workshops, Hydrogen weeks, etc.), site visits to industry, and (inter)national academic-industrial networking events. To encourage knowledge exchange and building the network, part of your Ph.D. research will be performed in the Belgian knowledge institute of your co-promoter.

Job profile

  • You have a Master’s degree in Political Science, EU Studies, International Relations, Economics, or equivalent. For diplomas awarded outside the European Union, a certificate of equivalence (NARIC) must be submitted. The degree requirements need to be fulfilled at the start of your appointment.
  • You have achieved excellent grades in your Bachelor and Master studies (i.e. finished in the top 10% of your cohort)
  • You have a strong interest in international relations, energy security, and decarbonization.
  • You have a strong motivation for conducting scientific research and dealing with complex research questions.
  • You have excellent written and oral communication skills in English.
  • You possess strong analytical and technical skills, a critical scientific mindset, and creative problem-solving abilities. Demonstrated experience with quantitative methods and related software is a plus.
  • You are able to work independently but also as part of an interdisciplinary research team.

How to apply

Applications should be sent as a single pdf document to Prof. Thijs Van de Graaf ( with the reference “Application for Ph.D. position BE-HyFE project” in the subject line and should include a cover letter, CV, detailed academic results (courses and grades), and at least one reference contact. If available, some examples of research work can also be included (e.g., a master thesis or other publications).

For more information, contact Prof. Thijs Van de Graaf at Applications should be sent in by September 12 but applications may be considered until the position is filled. Tentative starting date: October 2021.