HCSS is hiring: Applied Data Science PhD Position

October 13th 2020 - 15:24

Solving complex policy challenges, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) is developing some of the most advanced real-world policy applications. We are the place where leading policymakers shop for evidence-based policies.

Populated with a team of interdisciplinary analysts from the world’s leading universities, the cornerstone of our solutions is our data lab. This is where we are developing a portfolio of top-notch, data-intensive, quantitative, and causal political risk models. Our data lab hosts and hones our capability for the analysis, modeling, and computation of relevant political, security and conflict risk metrics, as well as our competencies for formulating and implementing appropriate risk measures.

In collaboration with the leading universities in The Netherlands, we are further strengthening our data lab’s capability and competencies. To this end, we are inviting ambitious hopefuls to apply for a PhD role in applied data science. Our PhD role is intended to bridge the gap between the data science and conflict modeling communities. The role comes with balanced responsibilities that integrate cutting-edge solutions to practical policy problems at HCSS, and advanced academic research in the PhD program of a successful applicant’s choice. This might include anything from quantification of hybrid military operations, economic interdependencies, or climate security risks to creation of dashboards and monitors, to development of gaming software and technology. The role lasts for up to four years, and funding has already been secured by our key beneficiaries.

Our offer is intended to attract able PhD applicants who want to make a name for themselves in the areas of applied data science, conflict modeling, and political risk. Thus, we are inviting PhD applicants with an appropriate background who can, under our guidance, collect, curate and use available data for model calibration and validation to:

  • Develop and implement an interstate dispute model that draws on economic, political, and security-related aspects of conflict risk;
  • Develop and implement a model of intrastate conflict risk in game-theory, mechanism-design, and/or social-choice terms; demonstrate utility of such a model in a security policy application;
  • Examine the relationship between economic and security-related aspects of conflict risk (e.g., examine the relationship between pricing of government securities and/or debt instruments on the one side, and security aspects of conflict risk on the other);
  • Or, alternatively, propose a research topic in this area of risk management; outline, formulate, and implement an adequate research design.


Candidates should either have a strong quantitative background (e.g., statistics, computer science, mathematics, engineering, econometrics, or any other related quantitative or data background) or demonstrated affinity for solving quantification problems. They should also demonstrate strong transferable, programming skills, as well as a keen interest in the topics covered by HCSS policy research. Our best candidates should easily meet several of the following criteria:

  • Extensive experience in statistical and scientific computing, machine learning, and/or optimization
  • Fluency in at least two of the languages: R, Python, Scala, Julia, Java, C#, and/or C++
  • Prior experience with dashboarding, visualization, and/or web design and development
  • Prior experience in software development and engineering is a strong plus
  • Data management and engineering skills
  • Very good communication skills in English, both orally and in writing
  • Ability to work independently in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong work ethic and willingness to learn
  • An affinity for policy research
  • The ability to interpret data
  • First-principles thinking

Successful applicants are asked to provide a certificate of good conduct (‘Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag’), which is available from The Netherlands Ministry of Justice. Applicants residing outside of The Netherlands should provide a certificate from their country of residence.

Practical Information

The HCSS PhD role is paid. Eligible applicants will be invited for an interview. Our most prized candidates are thirsty for knowledge, excellent with numbers, and can easily ace our rigorous data-science test. We are eager to hear from you.

Application Procedure

Your application should be in English. HCSS only considers complete applications. To apply, send the following items to, using ‘PhD Role 1/2020’ as the subject line:

  • A cover letter, succinctly explaining why you are the best candidate for the PhD role
  • A portfolio of previous data projects, including the code (or a GitHub address)
  • An outlined research proposal (3 pages maximum)
  • A resume, including a list of references
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Two writing samples