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Call for applications: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher (Ph.D. Research Position)

Full-time up to 3 years position


Closing date: March 1st, 2020

Reference:  NoBIAS ITN


PhD topic: Legal issues of mitigating bias in AI-based decision making at national and EU level

The Leibniz University Hannover and L3S Research Center, Hannover, Germany invite applications for 1 fully funded PhD student positions in the area of legal regulation of Machine Learning, Data Mining, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), in particular in the field of anti-discrimination, data protection and commercial practices law in its application to address bias in AI-based decision making.

The project context: NoBIAS

The position is part of the NoBIAS project ( funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 research & innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITN). NoBIAS aims at developing novel methods for AI-based decision making without bias by taking into account ethical and legal considerations in the design of technical solutions. The core objectives of NoBIAS are to understand legal, social and technical challenges of bias in AI-decision making, to counter them by developing fairness-aware algorithms, to automatically explain AI results, and to document the overall process for data provenance and transparency. The NoBIAS-Artificial Intelligence without Bias network offers in total 15 PhD positions related to AI and bias (see all positions here).

Your tasks

The PhD project “Legal issues of mitigating bias in AI-based decision making at a national and EU level” addresses how AI-based decision making processes are currently regulated in the fields of anti-discrimination, consumer and data protection law in (selected) national laws and at the EU level. It aims at developing a legal concept of fairness for AI-based decision making and to derive proposals to interpret and possibly amend existing legislation in order to adequately address bias. In particular, it shall analyse how measures to mitigate bias can be implemented under existing legal rules and where changes may be needed.

How you will work:

You will be part of a stimulating and dynamic network of various European top-level universities and other institutions. You will be based at Leibniz University Hannover, Germany, in particular at the Institut für Rechtsinformatik (IRI), with affiliation to Christian Heinze and Tina Krügel, and at the L3S Research Center in Hannover, Germany. The Institut für Rechtsinformatik participates in teaching and research in general private law in the faculty of law, with a strong focus in information technology and intellectual property law. In IT and IP law, the Institut für Rechtsinformatik offers courses on Bachelor ( and Master ( level, both with compulsory study abroad at one of several international partner universities.

On a regular basis, you will conduct research visits and secondments at several of the NoBIAS partner institutions (both academic and industrial), according to the individual career development plan. You will engage, throughout your PhD, at NoBIAS partner organizations across the EU, in disciplines including computer science, social sciences, and law. You will engage in the NoBIAS research activities and actively collaborate within the consortium. You will actively participate in the training programme offered by the NoBIAS ITN.

You will work independently as well as in local and international teams, with a focus on producing excellent research as well as in learning and acting in real-life contexts of AI creation and deployment.

Your profile

You have a Master’s degree or equivalent degree in law and an interest in information technology. You are prepared to collaborate with researchers and industrial partners who may work in a different discipline and to engage actively in interdisciplinary research. Skills in IT law, anti-discrimination law, data protection law, and/or competition or consumer law are a plus. Prior experience with topics with an ethical dimension (fairness/bias/discrimination, privacy,…) is a plus. You care not only about law and AI, but also about the ethical dimension of law and informatics, and you are motivated to learning and taking a critical and interdisciplinary approach that values the social sciences.

You work efficiently and reliably, independently as well as in teams. You have very good communication skills and scientific curiosity. Proficiency in English is expected; knowledge of further European languages is of advantage. You are flexible and prepared to travel and to integrate into the local teams, while keeping a focus on your PhD and on delivering scientific and other project-related output.

We are open to all applicants, but specifically encourage people from traditionally under-represented groups to apply.



Eligibility criteria:

To be eligible the applicant must satisfy the mobility requirements of Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, explained in full detail at [1]. According to these guidelines, at the time of recruitment, the potential candidate “must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention[1] are not taken into account”. Furthermore, according to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie rules, Early-Stage Researchers shall, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, “be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree”.



The salary amounts to German TV-L E13, which is roughly 48.000 Euro income in the first year and 52.000 Euro in the second and third year.

Required documents:

Please submit your application including all the following documents:

  • Detailed CV in Europass format (template available in the following link) in English, highlighting your achievements and fit to the applied position.
  • Scans of Bachelor and Master (or equivalent degree) transcripts, with certified translation in English (if the degree qualification is not in English or in the language of the hosting country).
  • A motivation letter in English, highlighting why you will be a good fit for the position and why you want to be a NoBIAS ESR to carry out of a PhD.
  • Contact details or recommendation letters of two referees in English or in certified translation.
  • Scanned copy of valid identification document.
  • Proof of excellent command of English (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge or equivalent). This is not required in case of native English speakers (i.e., English is your mother tongue).

Please apply NOW, since the position will be filled when a suitable candidate is found.


Information and contact:

Please contact: Prof. Dr. Christian Heinze, if you have any questions, and/or send your application to him.

Applications will be processed according to the rules of the corresponding host institute and in compliance with the general rules for projects in the H2020/Marie Skłodowska-Curie programmes. Applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria will not be considered.


[1] itn_en.pdf (pp. 6, 19)


NoBIAS ITN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 860630.


[1] 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol.