4-year PhD position in the field of Geography/GIS-Analysis in the SNF project "Governing densification" (GoverDENSE)


University of Bern


Monday, December 9, 2019

Start Date

Monday, December 16, 2019

You will develop and apply geospatial approaches to model and analyze regional densification processes based on changes in building stocks. Under the guidance of the senior members of the project and in close cooperation with two other PhD researchers, you will conduct the spatial analysis of two case studies, the city-regions of Bern and Utrecht (Netherlands). Your expertise in geographic information science will contribute to gain new insights on how the performance of urban planning for densification can be increased in terms of sustainability. The overarching research question examines the conditions under which spatial planning can lead to densification more effectively, while retaining urban quality for all, especially vulnerable socio-economic groups.

You will be part of the project GoverDENSE (Governing densification – The impact of performance-based planning on qualitative urban densification) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. You will be affiliated with the research group "Political urbanism and sustainable spatial development" at the Institute of Geography of the University of Bern, and work closely together with partners at Wageningen University and at the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER), Dresden. You will have regular research stays at IOER's Research Area Monitoring of Settlement and Open Space Development.

You will write an independent thesis in the project (PhD in Geography, University of Bern), participate in project publications, research workshops and other events, build network with practitioners, and contribute to the project's website. You will also be involved in teaching, including the supervision of bachelor and master theses.


We invite applications from candidates with the following credentials:

  • a very good (research) master degree in Geography or related fields (e.g. geoinformatics, spatial planning, sustainability),
  • excellent skills and proven experience in handling and analyzing spatial data using common GIS software (e.g. ArcGIS and QGIS);
  • comprehensive skills in related programming (e.g. Python and R);
  • proven strong interest in modelling and analyzing urban dynamics;
  • strong interest in urban development issues, land use planning and sustainability.
  • fluency in English both spoken and written is a must; very good understanding of German is highly desirable.
  • skills and commitment to work in an interdisciplinary team are required.

Conditions of employment

We offer an exciting interdisciplinary project in an international research team. The appointment will initially be for one year and subject to renewal upon satisfactory evaluation of research progress. Remuneration is according to Swiss NSF standards (http://www.snf.ch/SiteCollectionDocuments/Annex_XII_Ausfuehrungsreglemen...).

The start date is as soon as possible.

The University of Bern as an equal opportunity employer promotes gender equality and diversity. Therefore, we encourage women and international candidates to apply. Equally, qualified candidates with disabilities or applicants with equivalent status receive preference in the application process.


Please submit the following documents as one single pdf file to therese.jost@giub.unibe.ch:

  • a letter of motivation (not more than one page);
  • a curriculum vitae (including copy of university transcript) and names and contact details of two academic referees;
  • Details of publications if any and one sample writing (e.g. chapter from master thesis).

For full consideration, please submit your materials by Monday, December 9, 2019. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after that deadline until the position is filled.

If you have further questions about the position, you are very welcome to contact Prof. Jean David Gerber (jean-david.gerber@giub.unibe.ch) or Dr. Mathias Jehling (m.jehling@ioer.de).

Contact Name

Prof. Jean David Gerber

Contact Email