PhD position application

The Chair of Human Geography of the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Tartu is inviting applications from qualified and highly motivated students for a 4- year fully funded PhD position on the topic “Interdependencies Between Family Context, Residential Segregation and School Segregation”.

The PhD position starts in September 2019. The Chair of Human Geography offers a young, enthusiastic and open-minded work collective, an excellent work environment, family- friendly work arrangements, and opportunities for continuous further training. The main supervisors of the PhD project will be Prof. Tiit Tammaru and Dr. Anneli Kährik. Additional supervisors are possible depending on the exact research interests of the selected applicant.


The University of Tartu (UT) is Estonia’s leading centre of research and training. The University of Tartu belongs to the top 1.2% of world’s best universities. UT accounts for more than a half of all the doctoral degrees conferred, research publications, and national R&D financing in Estonia.

The Chair of Human Geography in the Department of Geography (, headed by Prof. academician Tiit Tammaru, has a long-term experience in applying quantitative research methodology, and working with register data and mobile phone data. Research takes primarily place in the two research centres, Centre for Migration and Urban Studies (CMUS) ( and Mobility Lab (ML) (

These centres focus on high quality teaching and research in the fields of social and economic geography, population geography, and spatial planning. The current PhD position is related to the Estonian Research Council financed project “Understanding the Vicious Circles of Segregation. A Geographic Perspective” (PRG306, 1.01.2019−31.12.2023, annual budget of 185,000, PI Tiit Tammaru).

For information about our team and the project, please use the following website link:

Job description

Income inequalities have grown in Europe and North America for the last four decades, followed by the rise of residential segregation. Segregation generally has a strong connotation with a residential location. But residential segregation is often linked to other life domains, such as schools and workplaces—residential neighbourhoods and their location can shape the choice of school, whereas both residential and school context play a role in individual’s social and labour market outcomes.

The PhD project will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics and complexities of segregation, focusing on the transmission of the disadvantages and advantages between different life domains—family, residential neighbourhood, school—both in the short-term perspective (activity space) and in the long-term perspective (over the life course). The exact focus will be decided later based on the research interests of the selected applicant.

This PhD position provides an excellent opportunity for a highly motivated PhD student to work in an international team of researchers on a cutting-edge social science topic and applying advanced quantitative methods to longitudinal data. Research is based on large-scale individual and longitudinal national databases, censuses (linked 1989, 2000 and 2011 censuses) and register data, surveys.

Additionally, there is a possibility to apply additional qualitative data sources, as well as innovative mobile phone data depending also on the interests of the PhD candidate. The availability of individual level longitudinal data since 1989 (or before the systemic change after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991) offers a unique quasi-experimental research for the whole population for understanding how segregation gets transmitted between different contexts.

The primary research region is Tallinn metropolitan area. The PhD thesis will consist of a minimum of 3 articles (including at least one first- authored) in international scientific journals, an introduction and a discussion, and will be written in English. Presentations at (inter)national conferences are part of the job as well. Teaching will take up 15% of time.


Applicants are expected to meet the following eligibility criteria:

1) A master’s degree in any area of social, educational, environmental sciences or economics (including statistics and applied mathematics) to be completed before 1 September 2019.
2) Interest in research on inequalities and segregation, as well as application of advanced quantitative methods in social sciences. Coding skills are an advantage (e.g. in R, Stata or SAS), but not required.
3) Good writing skills and fluency in English. The following skills will be an advantage—experience in academic writing, conceptual capacity and abstract reasoning with the desire and capacity to relate theoretical topics to practical challenges and solutions, communicative skills (presenting), planning and organizing, teamwork, enthusiasm. Previous experience or proven interest in the project related research fields would be an advantage.

Conditions of employment

The selected candidate will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected. The University of Tartu offers a basic net salary of € 14,000 per year during the first year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE).

This is the provided minimum salary level (based on the salary structure of the Estonian universities) which can be negotiated and is subject for increase during the 4-year period. To put into perspective, the pay is the average net salary in the country, and allows for decent living (housing cost ranges from 350 to 500 EUR/month). In addition, other scholarship opportunities and research training support opportunities are possible. There are no tuition fees.

Procedure Candidates must submit an application electronically between May 1, 2019 up until Jun 1, 2019 23:59 Europe/Tallinn time.

More information about the submission of the documents Please note that a proof of English language proficiency at a satisfactory level has to be provided Shortlisted applicants will be asked for the interview. Skype interviews are possible.

However, it is highly recommended that you email your (1) curriculum vitae (including a list of publications if any), (2) letter of interest (no more than 1 page, in English) and (3) an initial project idea (max 1 page) latest by May 1 to the email addresses of Prof. Tiit Tammaru and Dr. Anneli Kährik

The contact details of two referees whom we might contact for a recommendation, and any writing samples or publications (in case of availability) would also be useful. This will allow us to provide comments and recommendations for potential candidates in order to guarantee a better success in the competition. In the motivation letter briefly state why you are interested in this PhD position, how we could foster your professional development and career trajectory, and in which ways your interests fit the research strengths of our team and project. In the research statement briefly describe your research accomplishments, as well as ongoing and future research plans, and how they relate to the annaouced PhD project. Please also describe your areas of expertise, technical skills as well as the type of advanced training that you would like to receive during your studies.

For inquiries about the PhD position, please contact Prof. Tiit Tammaru and/or Dr. Anneli Kährik

For practical questions and inquiries related to the application procedure please contact Ms Annika Väiko (

Please include ‘PhD vacancy’ in the subject line of your email.