The research team of “Spatial Development and Urban Policy – SPUR” led by Prof. Dr. David Kaufmann and based at the Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development invites applications for Doctoral student in Urban Planning and Urban Policy.

Project background

The research team “Spatial Development and Urban Policy” is looking for a doctoral researcher who develops a research agenda around urban infrastructure workers in Europe who embody and produce the physical and social infrastructure of our cities. Diverse people contribute to the care, repair, and maintenance of the urban infrastructure that are vital for our everyday activities. Whereas they often remain invisible, the importance of urban infrastructure workers for society became evident during the COVID-19 pandemic as so-called “essential workers” put themselves at risk to provide services to people who are able to stay at home. The importance of their work is also evident in discussions of growing urban night economies and its risk to exacerbate social inequalities.

Job description

We want to study the needs and demands of these urban infrastructure workers with regards to urban planning issues such as housing and transportation, as well as with regards to labor and social security policies. We then aim to mirror their needs and demands by mapping and examining existing and developing urban policies in support of urban infrastructure workers in European cities. We aim to use survey research and statistical analyses in combination with qualitative research techniques.

We offer a PhD position (conditional on approval of the PhD proposal by the end of the first year) in a highly dynamic team and a stimulating intellectual environment. The position is funded for 3-4 years (which is the average time for completing a doctoral degree at ETH Zurich).

Your profile


  1. A Master degree (or are near completion of) in urban and spatial planning, political science, sociology, or related degrees with a strong connection to the topic
  2. Strong interest and curiosity in urban planning and urban policy issues
  3. Very good knowledge of social science research methods and an interest in further developing these methodological skills
  4. Ability to work both independently and in a team
  5. Motivation to pursue an academic career
  6. Good command of written and spoken English; knowledge of other European languages is an asset

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.Working, teaching and research at ETH ZurichGet connected


Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our ETH job portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. The application should include

  1. Letter of interest
  2. CV
  3. Academic transcripts
  4. A writing sample (e.g. Master thesis or seminar paper)
  5. Contact details of two people willing to serve as a reference (but no recommendation letters are needed)

We ask the candidates that we invite for first-round interviews to write and present a two-page research proposal about the above described topic.

The selection of candidates will start in February 2021. We look forward to receiving your online application until February 3, 2021. The starting date for the position is in spring or summer 2021 (up on availability).

Apply online now

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