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PhD Candidate: Semantics, Pragmatics and Large Language Models

Posted 3 Jan 2024
Work experience
1 to 3 years
Full-time / part-time
Job function
€2,770 - €3,539 per month
Degree level
Required languages
English (Fluent)
Dutch (Fluent)
3 Mar 2024 00:00

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Are you interested in understanding the linguistic abilities and limitations of recent chatbots? Do you hold a Master's degree in Philosophy, Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence, or a closely related discipline, or are you close to obtaining such a degree? Are you a creative and independent thinker who is passionate about language and science? If so, we encourage you to apply as a PhD candidate!

Recent years have seen remarkable progress in the fluency of chatbots (e.g. Chat GPT), spurred on by the development of large language models. In this PhD project, you will systematically investigate the linguistic abilities and limitations of these large language models. In particular, you will study to what extent recent chatbots understand linguistic meaning and language use. You will explain your findings on the basis of a thorough understanding of the technical architecture of large language models, and connect to recent theories of semantics and pragmatics. The ultimate goal of your project is to provide a fundamental understanding of the prospects of computerised communication.

You will participate in relevant conferences, workshops and seminars, and communicate your findings through publications in proceedings and peer-reviewed journals. Besides your research, you will have a standard 10% teaching load to help you develop your teaching skills and further qualify for a career as an independent academic researcher. You will also have the opportunity to further develop your skill set by attending courses that are relevant for your project and general development.


  • You hold or are about to obtain a Master's degree in Philosophy, Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field.
  • You are a highly motivated, passionate, critical, and creative thinker who wants to grow as a scientist.
  • You have a demonstrable affinity with the study of natural language and/or large language models.
  • You are team-oriented, open to providing and receiving feedback, and keen to engage in scientific discussions.
  • You possess excellent written and verbal communication skills in English.

We are

The Philosophy of Mind and Language group of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies focuses on fundamental and applied questions at the intersection of cognition and language. The group's profile is strongly interdisciplinary: it applies state-of-the-art philosophical theorising to recent scientific findings in psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience. The group offers courses to students in Philosophy, Linguistics, Sociology, Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Staff and students in the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies reflect on the great challenges of our time, exploring concepts, belief systems and worldviews. Thus, they provide philosophical and ideological context to social debate and contribute to the analysis and solution of major social issues. The faculty has over 180 staff, spread across eight academic departments and four support departments. Our academics collaborate in six research centres and teach more than 1,000 students.

Our staff and students are committed. The lines of communication are short and each individual student and staff member is given ample attention. We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity contributes to the quality of teaching and research. We welcome staff whose diversity in background and perspective contribute to the diversity of our faculty. As an employer, we are constantly investing in the professional development of our staff.

Radboud University

We are keen to meet critical thinkers who want to look closer at what really matters. People who, from their expertise, wish to contribute to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This ambition unites more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University and requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!

We offer

  • It concerns an employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,770 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,539 from the fourth year onwards (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

De Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen is een van de beste brede, klassieke universiteiten van Nederland. Gelegen op een groene campus ten zuiden van het stadscentrum van Nijmegen. Onze universiteit wil bijdragen aan een gezonde, vrije wereld met gelijke kansen voor iedereen.
Deze bedrijfspagina is automatisch gegenereerd en bevat daarom nog weinig informatie. Je vindt meer informatie over ‘bedrijfsnaam’ op hun website: ‘’Carrierewebsite’’

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