PhD position on Hybrid argumentation using large scale knowledge graphs

A 4-year full-time Ph.D. student position is available at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (jointly with the University of Groningen) on using large scale knowledge graphs for hybrid argumentation as an approach to augmented human-machine collaboration. The position is embedded in the 10 year Hybrid Intelligence project, a collaboration between six universities in the Netherlands.


Job description

The Hybrid Intelligence centre (HI) aims at creating methods and systems that combine human and machine intelligence, expanding human intellect instead of replacing it. HI systems place humans and their values at the centre, changing the course of the ongoing AI revolution.

In contemporary artificial intelligence, large scale machine learning and language models have led to impressive applications. However, the alignment between human and machine intelligence remains problematic. A key cause is that developing a shared understanding in human-machine teams is complex (cf. the limited transparency of machine learning trained algorithms reducing their responsible use). In this project, two contemporary artificial intelligence approaches are connected for improving the state of the art: large scale knowledge graphs and computational argumentation. Large scale knowledge graphs provide a structured vocabulary about a topic supporting the shared understanding within a team or community. Computational argumentation is a dialogue approach to collaborative conflict resolution in which arguments and counterarguments are developed and exchanged. 

Your duties

The candidate will investigate large knowledge graphs as a tool for constructing arguments about complex scenarios. Research activities include modelling arguments and their structured conclusions using knowledge representation techniques, designing algorithms for using knowledge graphs to populate argument schemes, and implementing and evaluating such methods in concrete HI case studies (e.g., evidence, medicine, science).


  • We are looking for a PhD candidate passionate about hybrid artificial intelligence, in particular knowledge representation & reasoning (KR&R), algorithm design and application with real-world data, with an interest in responsible and explainable AI.
  • Knowledge of semantic technologies, machine learning and computational argumentation are a plus, but not necessary (as can be learnt on the way).
  • Candidates are expected to have completed their M.Sc. in Computer Science or Artificial Intelligence or a closely related field. 
The candidate will be supervised jointly by Dr. Ilaria Tiddi (Knowledge in AI group at VU Amsterdam) and Prof. Bart Verheij (Head of department AI at the University of Groningen, chair of AI & argumentation). The position is embedded in the Hybrid Intelligence centre (, a 10 year project in which six universities in the Netherlands collaborate (funded by the NWO Zwaartekracht program). Adaptivity to work in a heterogeneous team and consortium, creativity and interest in multi-disciplinary research are fundamental.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1,5 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • contribution to commuting expenses,
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
For information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment see

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.


About the department, institute, project
The VU Department of Computer Science has approximately 200 staff members, including approximately  110 PhD students. Lecturers form a critical and essential basis for the functioning of the department, providing foundational education that helps determine the future of our students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button before 30/06/2023. Please include in your application a short motivation letter, your CV, and a 1 page statement about your previous research.

We strongly encourage women and minorities to apply. 

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Ilaria Tiddi, Prof. Dr. Bart Verheij
Position: Assistant Professor; Full Professor

For more information regarding moving to Amsterdam, and working at VU Amsterdam, please check:

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Job area: PhD
Educational Level: MSc
VU unit: Faculty of Science
Contract type: Temporary with prospects to extension
Maximum FTE: 1
Minimum salary scale: €2,541 (PhD)
Maximum salary scale: €3,247 (PhD)