PhD Position in Formal Modelling of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Utrecht University Department of Information and Computing Sciences

PhD position in Formal Modelling of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (1.0 FTE)

Job description

The department of Information and Computing sciences at Utrecht University offers a five-year PhD grant on Formal Modelling of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems. The position consists of 70% research and 30% teaching so you will also be involved in supporting the preparation and teaching of Bachelor's and Master's level courses, supervising student theses, managing research infrastructure, and participating in public outreach.

The research goal of this project is to contribute to the ultimate aim of developing intelligent agents and multi-agent systems that are more reliable, more capable of assisting humans and attuned to human values. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: formal modelling of social systems, synthesis of norms for social systems, verification of learned strategies, verification and synthesis of strategies in multi-agent systems under resource constraints. The project is unique in the sense that as our candidate, you will have plenty of freedom in choosing your own topic of interest across the many opportunities in the area of formal modelling of intelligent agents and multi-agent systems, and it will allow you to develop a strong academic profile as a competent Researcher and able Teacher. You will be part of the Intelligent Systems (IS) group, led by Professor Mehdi Dastani, who will also be your daily supervisor along with Dr Natasha Alechina.


We are looking for a candidate with perseverance and a committed spirit. You also have:

  • a background in modal or temporal logic;
  • an understanding of basic AI concepts and techniques (intelligent agents, planning, learning) and some computational background (such as the ability to analyse correctness and complexity of algorithms);
  • a Master’s degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field;
  • excellent communication skills in English, both in speech and in writing;
  • a strong motivation for interdisciplinary research.


We offer an exciting opportunity to contribute to an ambitious and international education programme with highly motivated students and to conduct your own research project at a renowned research university. You will receive appropriate training, personal supervision, and guidance for both your research and teaching tasks, which will provide an excellent start to an academic career.

In addition, you will have:

  • the opportunity to work in a collaborative, social, and dedicated team of Researchers;
  • a full-time position for 5 years;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organization

You will work at the Intelligent Systems (IS) group of the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. This group, led by Professor Mehdi Dastani, is composed of Researchers who are experts in the areas of artificial intelligence and logic. Our main goal is to develop innovative techniques for developing reliable and well-functioning intelligent agents and multi-agent systems. We focus on the following areas of agent technology: Autonomy and Decision making, Emotions and Rationality, Interaction design for multi-agent systems, Communication and Cooperation in multi-agent systems, Norms and Control in multi-agent systems, Reasoning and Argumentation in multi-agent systems, Adaptive Agents and multi-agent learning. We are part of the university-wide focus area on Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences of Utrecht University is nationally and internationally renowned for its research. Current research groups are Algorithmic Data Analysis, Algorithms and Complexity, Decision Support Systems, Simulation of Complex Systems, Geometric Computing, Multimedia, Human-Centered Computing, Social and Affective Computing, Visualisation and Graphics, Interaction Technology, Process Management and Analytics, Organization and Information, Natural Language Processing, Intelligent Systems, Data Intensive Systems, Software Technology and Software Technology of Learning and Teaching. Relevant areas of interdisciplinary research include Artificial Intelligence, Game Research, Foundations of Complex Systems, Applied Data Science and Integrative Bioinformatics. The Department has, among others, close collaborations with the University Medical Center, the Departments of Physics and Mathematics, and the Faculties of Humanities and Geosciences.

The department offers Bachelor's programmes in Computer Science and Information Science, and six English language Research Master's programmes in Artificial Intelligence, Business Informatics, Computing Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Game and Media Technology and Applied Data Science. High enrolment figures and good student ratings make the education very successful.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Additional information

If you have any questions about this position, please contact Dr Natasha Alechina, via

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Then please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives and we attach great importance to diversity and gender balance. Applicants are encouraged to mention any personal circumstances that need to be taken into account, for example parental leave or military service.

If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button! Please enclose:

  • a one or two-page research proposal for the PhD;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references.

If this specific opportunity is not for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

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The application deadline is

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Computeroxy


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