PhD candidate Blockchain and Law

PhD 1 (4 years, 1 FTE) will work on WP5.


Project and job description

Blockchain technology, especially its open, non-permissioned variant was designed to operate without any central legal authority, making its regulation challenging for a regulatory framework that is essentially geared towards centralized actors. The regulatory history of digital networks, such as peer-to-peer file sharing networks suggests that in the long run few technologies are immune to regulation. The effectiveness of a policy response to a quickly developing technology depends on its ability to simultaneously address substantive and technical challenges. The substantial challenge is finding the right balance between an innovation-friendly hands-off approach, and other, more pressing policy priorities, such as combating cybercrime or providing more efficient, transparent, accountable public services. The technical challenge that regulatory authorities (on national, European and international levels) face is how to avoid badly chosen policy tools that result in regulatory stalemates (as is the case with online copyright enforcement), or leave substantial gaps in regulation (as in the case of protecting users’ privacy online).

As a PhD candidate, you will be researching the regulatory issues, and emerging practices around various blockchain applications. Your tasks may include the following:

  • creating an inventory of policies by collecting (publicly accessible) policy documents, background studies, legal texts, court cases, and the texts of legislative processes (including documents of the political debate) from the EU, the US, or elsewhere, that address blockchain technology;
  • integrating these materials with the empirical evidence gathered in the other activities of the Blockchain&Society Research Lab. Providing a legal analysis and comparing these policies in terms of their potential impact and effectiveness in managing the aforementioned technical and substantive challenges;
  • based on this analysis and comparative assessment, provide policy recommendations for improvement of the regulation of blockchain technology within of the EU legislative framework.


Candidates are expected to meet the following requirements. You have:

  • an LL.M. or Master’s degree in law, with a focus on European Information Law, Intellectual Property Law, Information Technology law or related fields;
  • a strong understanding of the EU law;
  • familiarity with the fundamentals of at least one, non-European (US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, etc.) legal system, with substantial blockchain related activity;
  • a strong interest or (preferably) a degree in any of the following disciplines: sociology, economics, political science, computer science, or science and technology studies;
  • experience with blockchain related practice is a plus;
  • experience or interest in multidisciplinary research;
  • an interest in contributing to the relevant policy debates;
  • fluency in English;
  • creative, critical thinking;
  • reliability and autonomy.

Further information

For further information, please contact:


The successful candidate will be offered an initial contract of one year, the first 4 months will be used to draft the so-called research and supervision plan (OBP). Upon positive evaluation of the PhD students’ performance after the first year the contract will be extended by initially 1 and subsequently 2 years.

The position ideally starts on 1 March 2018.

The appointment salary will range between €2,222 to €2,840 (scale P) gross per month according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities based on a full-time appointment. The UvA offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an 8.3% end of year allowance and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

We are building a culturally diverse Lab, and every qualified applicant will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, disabled status, or genetic information.

To apply please submit the following items (preferably in one file) in Word or PDF format electronically to attn. selection committee:

  • your CV;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • a written piece (e.g. a master’s thesis);
  • two letters of reference;
  • a short research proposal (2000 words max), which sets out questions you would like to investigate in the context of our research framework and linked to the particular research strand mentioned. Locate these in the relevant literature and indicate the method you intend to use to answer the research questions indicated.

Only complete applications will be considered.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 28 February, 2018. #LI-DNP