Open PhD positions

When a promising researcher identified a research topic of interest and secured adequate personal funding for completing a PhD-research project, they may present their project idea to CSTM. CSTM will assess the applicant and their proposed project, and may admit them to the PhD programme based on several conditions, as listed further below.

Specific conditions for open PhD positions

In principle, an application for an open PhD-position can only be awarded when all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Adequate own funding on the part of the candidate
    CSTM cannot offer grants for research, nor for travel and living expenses; such funding will have to be demonstrably secured by the candidate themselves, preferably on the basis of a research grant from an external funding organization (as explained in point 2. In addition to covering the travel and living expenses, this external grant should also include a yearly tuition fee as required by the University of Twente and the BMS Faculty. Find more details on the UT tuition fee packages below.
  2. Positive indications of a candidate’s research competence in the relevant field
    An application should ideally come with a proposal that has been awarded a research grant by an organization with a recognized academic reputation, upon intrinsic assessment of the related research proposal. Still, alternative proof of a candidate’s abilities is possible, such as examples of academic work written in English, a draft of a research plan that communicates ambitions and skills, or endorsement by academic peers (e.g. MSc. thesis supervisors).
  3. Fit between the proposed research topic and pre-specified CSTM research themes
    To be accepted by CSTM, applications for PhD research should demonstrate a strong fit with one or more of the topics on the list of research themes below.
  4. Availability of supervisory capacity within CSTM
    Even when there is a sufficient fit with a given research topic, it may be that the relevant supervisors are currently not available, given their involvement in existing research projects or other tasks.
  5. An academic master degree in a relevant discipline
    The candidate must have an academic master degree in a relevant discipline, such as Public Administration, Public Policy, Political Science, Policy Studies, European Studies, Business Administration, Economics, Law, Sociology, Anthropology, Development Studies, Systems Science, Sustainability Science, Energy Management, Energy Engineering, Water Management, Water Engineering, Environmental Management, Environmental Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Civil Engineering.
  6. A candidate’s continued and substantive availability to do the PhD research
    Sufficient research progress requires that a candidate is available to work on their research project at least three days per week, for a consecutive period of four years. The candidate is generally required to spend at least three months each year at CSTM.
  7. Sufficient command of the English language
    Candidates need to provide proof of sufficient command of the English language. An IELTS score of at least 6.5 or a TOEFL score of 90 (TOEFL/IBT) or Cambridge CAE-C (CPE) is taken as a general minimum. Further, the research proposal and application for a position with CSTM must be written in English by the applicant themselves.

Tuition fee packages

The standard UT tuition fee package applies for PhD candidates fully financed by an employer or scholarship. This package includes a workplace at the UT, funding for conference visits and other research costs, together with facilities such as full supervision, proofreading and costs of editing and printing of the dissertation ('end product'). The tuition fee for this package is € 15,000 per year (in total € 60,000 over a four year period). Specifics on financial provisions for research expenses and cost of end product are outlined in the table below. If a PhD application is in the context of an institutional relationship between the UT and the financing grant organization, the UT tariff will be replaced by the agreed upon tuition fee. Under certain circumstances, the CSTM section can provide a partial waiver for this fee, as described below.

The table also includes two alternative packages that carry reduced tuition fees. Alternative 1 at €10,000 per year (in total €40,000 over a four year period) includes a UT workplace and full supervision, as well as some coverage of research costs and costs of end product as specified below. Alternative 2 at € 2,500 per year (in total € 10,000 over a four year period) offers digital supervision without a UT workplace and other facilities. These alternative packages are considered partial waivers for the UT tariff. If an individual waiver is considered, this will be a package with some compensatory activities beneficial to the PhD candidate and to CSTM.


Place of work (UT or elsewhere2)

Supervision (regular or minimal)3

Research costs (fieldwork, conferences, ICT)

Costs of end product

UT tariff: €15,000 per year





Alternative 1: €10,000 per year





Alternative 2: €2,500 per year





1 Not excluding possible waivers, which are provided only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. dire need and fit with key CSTM focus and external validated excellence of proposal and candidate, and clear trajectory of completion). If there is a waiver considered, this will be a package with some compensatory activities beneficial to PhD candidate and CSTM.  
2 Not excluding facilitating visits to UT, but travel and stay at own cost, and flexible office-space only if available.
3 Regular supervision is (usually) face-to-face, on average 1 hour/week with daily supervisor; 2 hours/6 weeks promotor; including written feedback and oral discussion. Minimal supervision is digital/online, and no more than 25% of the regular ratio, and only upon written work being presented.
4 Research costs plus costs of end product not exceeding €20,000 over the full period.
5 Research costs plus costs of end product not exceeding €12,000 over the full period.

Themes for open PhD positions 

The below list presents clusters of research subjects to which open PhD projects can be connected, each involving a particular approach to the CSTM field of Governance & Technology for Sustainability.

  • Policy Studies

    Research with a substantive Policy Studies content can be done under supervision of prof. prof. dr. Michiel A. Heldeweg LL.M, and/or prof. dr. Stefan Kuks (for Water governance & Policy), and a senior researcher dependent specializing in the following themes:

    1. Water Governance & Policy - Interactions between water policies and other sectors such as energy, agriculture and land use; public participation in water governance; justice and equity in water governance; governance of non-conventional water resources such as desalination and wastewater treatment and reuse; methodologies for transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in water governance and policy; cross-cutting perspectives such as the water-food-energy nexus and gender analysis
    2. Greening of Industry Governance & Policy (further information to follow)
    3. Energy Transition Governance & Policy (further information to follow)
  • Law & Regulation

    Research with a substantive Law & Regulation content can be done under supervision of prof. dr. Michiel A. Heldeweg LL.M, and/or prof. dr. Stefan Kuks (for Water governance) and a senior researcher dependent on best fit & availability, especially on (combinations of) the following themes:

    1. Energy Transition – Legal and/or regulatory governance aspects of policies and projects concerning societies moving towards a sustainable energy provision, such as the design of new legal frameworks or organization forms (e.g. PPPs) and the development and use of smart grids.
    2. Green Business/Materials – Legal and/or regulatory governance aspects of policies and projects concerning the greening of Industry and especially of supply chains and enhancing a circular economy (e.g. waste to resources/energy), such as by the use of standardisation & certification, legal project management and by enhancing transparency and stakeholder involvement.
    3. Water Governance - Legal and/or regulatory governance aspects of policies and projects concerning quantitative or qualitative water management, involving multilevel and multi actor (PPP)
    4. Concepts & Sustainability - Legal and/or regulatory aspects of key concepts regarding sustainability, such as the sustainability, precautionary and ALARA principle, the legal standing of natural objects, animals & plants.
    5. Regulation & Sustainability – Legal and/or regulatory aspects of policies and projects that involve innovative types of rules and regulation (e.g. Smart), such as certification, real-time regulation, tradable rights schemes, experimental regulation, transnational standard-setting, monitoring & enforcement.
    6. Governance & Sustainability – Legal and/or regulatory aspects of policies and projects regarding the institutional character and/or the functioning of competitive markets and/or of civil society/community initiatives and/or of government, as well as cross-cutting modes of governance (and hybrid organizations) as regards the production and allocation of goods and services with a relevance to enhancing sustainability, and finally multi-level governance relations, such as between trans-, international, supranational and national levels of governance.
    7. ICT & Sustainability – Legal and/or regulatory aspects of policies and projects concerning the role of ICT in achieving sustainability objectives, such as product and service efficiency, responsible use of big data towards improving policy and business efficiency and effectiveness, transparency etc.
    8. Justice & Sustainability – Legal studies concerning Environmental and Energy Justice in different dimensions and scales, such as global north vs global south, gender and other human rights, concerns, enforcement of law/rights concerning sustainability.
    9. Robotics & Law – Legal aspects of the development and use of robotics in modern day and future societies and smart cities, in the field of transport (drones & driverless cars), care & cure, and industry.
    10. Law, Governance & Technology Studies – Legal studies on the relationship between Law & Governance, Law & Technology, and Law, Governance and Technology, such as involving transition or innovation studies, the changing role of the (regulatory) state etc.

How to apply

Applications for open PhD positions at CSTM should be sent to Mrs. B. van Dalm-Grobben (, with reference to one or more of the topics/supervisors mentioned above.