PhD position

The Research Training Group KRITIS ("Critical infrastructures: Construction, Functional Crises and Protection in Cities") at the TU Darmstadt, announces a PhD position set to begin October 1st 2023 ) (2 years, 65 %), applications are accepted on an ongoing basis



PhD position (f/m/d) in DFG-RTG KRITIS

The position is limited to 2 years (30 September 2025) and comprises 65% employment. The successful candidate will be supported in applying for a contract extension through external or university funding. The successful PhD candidate will become a member of the Research Training Group KRITIS.

The group explores the relationships between urban societies and technical infrastructures in presence and history. Those networked systems that supply urban regions with energy, water, communication, and transportation services and treat and dispose of waste‐ and stormwater have become critical systems of modern cities. Their failure, disruption, destruction or decay can trigger dramatic crises. In recent years, the vulnerability of critical infrastructures has become a controversial topic. That controversy is due to multiple external threats such as natural disasters, terrorism, warfare, and cyberattacks, and the growing complexity and increasing interdependency of infrastructure systems. Focus of the PhD: The objective of the advertised position is to develop an independent research contribution to the urban sociology and/or urban governance of critical infrastructures. Ideally, the PhD project combines an investigation of the dynamics of critical infrastructures with an analysis of their socio‐spatial relations, transformations, or governance.

Possible research topics include:

  • Crises induced by attacks on urban critical infrastructures through their targeted damage, destruction or shutdown in the context of strategic violent acts (e.g., through terrorist attacks or acts of warfare), with a particular focus on their sociospatial effects and dynamics (e.g., network‐centric violence and infrastructural warfare, infrastructural vulnerability and resilience, mechanisms of coping with and preparing for infrastructural breakdowns).
  • Functional crises of critical infrastructures due to their damage or destruction in the context of natural disasters (e.g., due to earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, or floods) with a particular focus on their sociospatial impacts.
  • Functional crises of critical infrastructures due to their failure in the context of tourism (e.g. related to over‐ or undertourism).
  • Transformation of critical infrastructures through their musealisation/eventisation (e.g. development of the sewers in Vienna as a film tourist destination or water management systems transformed into UNESCO World Heritage).
  • Transformation of critical infrastructures through their reconstruction or conversion (e.g., after wars and catastrophes).
  • Apart from these topics, proposals on other relevant research topics exploring the urban and spatial dynamics of infrastructures from a social science perspective are welcome.

The PhD thesis may be written in German or English.

It will be supervised by Professor Sybille Frank (Urban Sociology and Sociology of Space, TU Darmstadt). It is possible to write the dissertation within the framework of a Joint Doctorate with Utrecht University, with Professor Jochen Monstadt (Governance of Urban Transitions, Utrecht University) as co‐supervisor.


The requirement for the position is an excellent academic degree in a social sciences discipline (diploma, master's degree or equivalent) with a focus on urban/spatial sociology, urban/spatial development or governance research. Moreover, a very good knowledge of qualitative methods of empirical social research is essential. As the regular joint activities of KRITIS take place in German and English, a good command of the English language and willingness to acquire a good knowledge of German are also expected. International experience and willingness to collaborate within interdisciplinary teams are desirable. The successful candidate is expected to take up her/his residence in the Frankfurt/Rhine‐Main region, and will be employed at the Institute of Sociology at the TU Darmstadt (near Frankfurt).

Please find more informations on KRITIS and the academic environment here:

Your application:

Please submit your application as soon as possible in English or German to the following two email address (compressed in one file, max. 6 MB): frank[ at ]ifs.tu‐

Please enclose the following documents:

(1) a motivation letter, (2) a CV with information on academic qualifications, language skills and international experience, (3) scanned copies of academic credentials, and (4) a short proposal for your planned PhD project (2‐4 pages), taking into account the academic program and (some of) the concepts of KRITIS. Potential candidates may contact Professor Sybille Frank for advice on possible PhD thesis topics and research designs before submitting their application.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. We look forward to receiving your application!


Nähere Informationen

frank[ at ]ifs.tu‐