2 PhD Positions

The Human Geography Unit at the Department of Geosciences of the University of Fribourg is inviting applications for 2 PhD Positions (100%, 4 years) which are part of the SNF Project “Nuclear Strata: The Political Geology of Nuclear Waste Governance”; application deadline 25 November 2023



The Human Geography Unit at the Department of Geosciences of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) is inviting applications for 

2 PhD Positions (100%)


Starting date is preferably February 1st, 2024. The position is limited to four years.

The positions are part of the SNF Project “Nuclear Strata: The Political Geology of Nuclear Waste Governance” (2024 - 2027) led by Dr. Rony Emmenegger. The project focuses on the geological dimension of nuclear waste disposal programs – or the idea that nuclear waste can be safely disposed in a suitable geological stratum in the long term. It examines ethnographically how subterranean strata manifest and consolidate in discursive and material form at various science-society interfaces at the surface. Based on a comparative research design, the project engages three case studies, each representative for a long history of site exploration in a specific host rock formation (clay in Switzerland, granite in Sweden and salt in Germany). On that basis, the project examines the co-constitution of the Earth’s stratified composition and the formation of (post-)nuclear nation-states. 

Research topic for PhD 1: “The Political Geology of Nuclear Waste Governance in Sweden”

Research topic for PhD 2: “The Political Geology of Nuclear waste Governance in Germany”


  • Scientific university degree (M.A., M.Sc. or equivalent) in Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Science Studies or related fields.
  • Interest in questions related to political geology and environmental governance more broadly.
  • Solid training in social science theory and qualitative (preferably ethnographic) research methods.
  • Outstanding analytical skills and ability to engage with (geo)science research and debates.
  • Ability to work independently as well as in collaboration and team.
  • Proficiency in English, as well as Swedish (PhD 1) or German (PhD 2).


  • Planning and realization of a PhD project on the political geology of nuclear waste governance in Sweden (PhD 1) or Germany (PhD 2), including desk research and 10-12 months fieldwork in the respective country. 
  • Participation in comparative case study analysis in collaboration with SNF Project partners.
  • Organizational and administrative tasks in the frame of the SNF Project.
  • Collaboration in academic analysis and publishing.

We offer

  • The possibility to write a PhD thesis in a young and innovative research team, and in a vibrant scientific environment.
  • The opportunity to collaborate in international research networks, including short-term visits at partner Universities in Sweden (PhD 1) or Germany (PhD 2).
  • An academic home in an inter- and transdisciplinary collaborative research community at the Department of Geosciences.

Employment conditions: PhD-position at the University of Fribourg for four years. The salary is according to the SNF regulations for PhD-students between CHF 48’680 and CHF 51’790 per year (more info)

Applications should be submitted electronically in a single PDF-file by November 25, 2023 to Dr. Rony Emmenegger – including a motivation letter; CV; degree certificates of university studies; contact details of two references; and a chapter of the M.A., M.Sc. thesis or an equivalent sample text. Interviews with selected candidates will be held in person or online between December 6 and 7, 2023.

For more information about the Human Geography Unit and its research focus, please visit the website research group

For further information and questions regarding the research project and positions, please contact Dr. Rony Emmenegger.


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Dr. Rony Emmenegger

rony.emmenegger[ at ]unifr.ch