PhD Position in Recommender Systems in Computer Science Education

About the position

The NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology has a vacancy for a PhD position at the Department of Computer Science (IDI).

The position focuses on personalized educational systems for bachelor students in computer science education. The candidate will be able to explore, design and experiment on the development of an efficient and successful recommender system in the computer science education domain.

The PhD candidate is expected to have a collaboration with the members of the Excited Centre for Excellent IT Education program, as well as the other people working on similar topics in the Department of Computer Science.

The main supervisor of the PhD candidate will be Associate Professor Özlem Özgöbek (https://www.ntnu.edu/employees/ozlemo).

The position reports to head of the department


Photo by UNSPLASH licensed under CC0 License

Main duties and responsibilities

Recommender systems are personalized systems that recommends the most relevant items according to user’s personal preferences and properties. In the context of computer science education, recommender systems require an extensive understanding of both the course material and the student. Understanding the students’ abilities, interests, motivations and learning styles is a key to develop a successful personalized educational system. The course material may include content from the text book, presentations, different levels of programming exercises etc.

In the recommender systems domain, it is common to use techniques such as machine learning, natural language processing and semantic technologies. The PhD candidate is expected to work with one or more of these techniques. Therefore, the candidate must be motivated to learn and work with these techniques. Based on this, the main duties and responsibilities of the candidate are:

  • To take relevant courses in order to learn the necessary technical background knowledge.
  • To explore, design and experiment on the development of an efficient and successful recommender system in the computer science education domain.
  • To implement a personalized system, therefore good programming skills are required.
  • To publish and disseminate research results.

Qualification requirements

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in Computer Science or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants with no letter grades from previous studies must have an equally good academic foundation. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, postdoctor and research assistant

The candidate should have the following qualifications:

  • A good understanding of AI techniques and personalization processes
  • Experience in software development (experience with machine learning and/or semantic methods is an advantage)
  • Excellent written and oral English language skills
  • Experience with writing and publishing articles will be considered as an advantage.
  • (Knowledge on didactics and learning analytics may be an advantage.)
  • (Experience with recommender systems may be an advantage.)

The following tests can be used as documentation of English language skills:

  • TOEFL (minimum score paper-based test: 600, Internet-based: 92), or
  • Academic IELTS (minimum score 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5), or
  • Cambridge CAE or Cambridge CPE (minimum grade B or A).

Candidates will be ranked according to qualifications described above, with emphasis on formal education, experience and personal suitability to the project.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

Personal characteristics

They are looking for candidates who are:

  • Passionate about research and have a high level of curiosity and motivation to learn
  • Able to work independently and in a team environment
  • Motivated to deliver research results through publications and presentations at international conferences
  • Well organized and have a high level of personal responsibility

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement

They offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 before tax per year. From the salary, 2 % is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years or 4 years with teaching duties. Applicants must be qualified for admission as PhD students at NTNU. See http://www.ime.ntnu.no/forskning/phd for information about PhD studies at NTNU.

As a PhD candidate, you undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period. A condition of appointment is that you are in fact qualified for admission to the PhD programme within three months.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criterias in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. NTNU encourages qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. Under the Freedom of Information Act (offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

The national labour force must reflect the composition of the population to the greatest possible extent, NTNU wants to increase the proportion of women in its scientific posts. Women are encouraged to apply. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life (http://trondheim.com/). Having a population of 200 000, Trondheim is a small city by international standards with low crime rates and little pollution. It also has easy access to a beautiful countryside with mountains and a dramatic coastline.

Questions about the position can be directed to associate professor Özlem Özgöbek, e-mail ozlem.ozgobek@ntnu.no or head of department Professor John Krogstie, e-mail: john.krogstie@ntnu.no

About the application:

The application must contain the following:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV) with information about the candidate’s prior training, exams, and work experienceCertified copies of transcripts and diplomas for the whole bachelor and master’s degree. An English translation of all education documents is required unless the documents are in Norwegian.
  • Research statement (max. 4 pages) including:
    • A short presentation of the motivation for a PhD study
    • How the applicant sees his/her background suitable
    • The applicant’s view of research challenges within the area of the PhD position
    • How the competence of the applicant can contribute to solving these challenges
    • A proposed research plan including a summary of theoretical and methodological knowledge for recommender systems in computer science education
    • Names and contact information of at least 2 reference persons (reference letters, if available)
    • A copy of the master thesis (in PDF), or, for those who are near to completion of their MSc, an extended abstract combined with a statement of how and when the applicant plans to complete the thesis.
    • Attachments of any other relevant documents (e.g. certificates, diplomas, prior publications)

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution. Please submit your application electronically via jobbnorge.no with your CV, diplomas and certificates.

Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI): http://www.chsi.com.cn/en/

Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 2019/ 37881 when applying.

Application deadline: 01.02.2019

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Computer Science 

We are the leading academic IT environment in Norway, and offer a wide range of theoretical and applied IT programmes of study at all levels. Our subject areas include hardware, algorithms, visual computing, AI, databases, software engineering, information systems, learning technology, HCI, CSCW, IT operations and applied data processing. The Department has groups in both Trondheim and Gjøvik. The Department of Computer Science is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

Deadline 1st February 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Trondheim


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