Department of Art Education
Department of Biology (in Slovak)
Department of Educational Studies (in Slovak)
Department of English Lan­guage and Lit­er­a­ture
Department of German Lan­guage and Lit­er­a­ture (in Slovak)
Department of Chemistry (in Slovak)
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Department of School Education
Department of Slovak Lan­guage and Lit­er­a­ture (in Slovak)

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Date: 16. 4. 2020, before last year

PhD fellowship in Education and Education sciences / Theory of Language and Literary Education / Literacy


Job description

The Trnava University invites applications for a PhD fellowship in early literacy promotion at the Faculty of Education. The position is vacant from October 2020.

This is a trainee position that will give promising researchers an opportunity for academic development leading to a double doctoral degree conferred by the Trnava University, Slovakia and the University of Basel, Switzerland. The appointment is for three years with research duties exclusively. The PhD candidate will be enrolled at both the Trnava University and the University of Basel during the entire duration of the PhD training. It is a prerequisite that the appointee has a residence which enables him or her to be present at/available to the academic community during ordinary working hours during these two appointments.

The position is full­‑time and is incorporated in the ELIT (Empirical study of Literature) Training Network, which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska­‑Curie Innovative Training Network, Grant Agreement no. 860516. For more information, please visit https://www.​elitnetwork.​eu/​ opened in a new window
(usually regards external link).

The scientific goal of ELIT is to train a new generation of innovative and interdisciplinary researchers in the empirical study of literature. As there are currently no interdisciplinary doctoral programs available across Europe, ELIT provides a new program offering comprehensive and integrative training that emphasizes the multidimensionality of reading. ELIT stimulates true interdisciplinary research: our doctoral candidates combine theory­‑driven approaches with various empirical methods. We are also collaborating closely with a range of non­‑academic partners to draw in valuable insights about how reading can fulfil certain societal needs. ELIT consists of ten European Universities that are at the forefront of the empirical study of literary reading. In addition, the network includes twelve non­‑academic partners from domains such as literacy (i.e., literacy associations, reading foundations, educational policymakers), bibliotherapy (i.e., reading groups, libraries), production (i.e., publishing houses), and research (i.e., eye tracking companies, international research networks).

ELIT comprises 10 PhD positions in three Work Packages (WPs): WP1 Fundamental processes underlying literary reading, WP2 Narrative empathy during literary reading, and WP3 Effects of literary reading on well­‑being. This announcement is for ELIT ESR 10, which is a project in WP3, titled “Reading with digital tools in early childhood classroom settings” (supervised by Dr. Zuzana Petrová, Assoc. Prof.).


Project objectives:

This project will target early childhood settings (for 3–6 years old children) with the aim to investigate the development of early language and literacy skills and children’s attitudes to and engagement with reading within classroom practices implementing literary reading programs, providing both paper­‑based and digital reading experience. The project will require developing a literary reading program for early childhood settings that implement both the underpinning theoretical argument and a range of research–informed strategies and practical classroom approaches. Besides analysing the responses of children to literary reading program, data on attitudes to and engagement with reading, as well as performance and attainment in literacy measures (e.g., text comprehension, vocabulary growth, storytelling/story re­‑telling skills), home literacy environment, including family socio­‑economic status, etc. will be collected. The general objective of the project will be to discuss the supposition that reading enjoyment plays a more important role in school success than socio­‑economic status, and that early exposure to literacy practices increases the impact of these experiences on attitudes toward reading and well­‑being, within digital era.


Planned secondments:

  • Second supervisor and Academic Secondment at UNIBAS (supervisor: prof. Gerhard Lauer, length: 12 months, months 18–29): Development of a reading program for children implementing literary texts for children with high literary and aesthetic value.
  • Non­‑academic Secondment hosted by Raabe Publishing House (industrial mentor: Mária Zelenková, length: 2 months, months 39–40): Experiences and knowledge on the specific needs of the field of education that are studied and targeted by the publishing sector; how to connect reading research with the development of reading promotion materials and how to plan, prepare, conduct and evaluate training formats for different promoters of reading in the field of education.


Qualification requirements

We are looking for applicants with a strong academic background who have completed a Master degree within Education and Education sciences or in other study field relevant to the project (e.g., literary studies, psychology).

The applicant has also to be eligible for admission to the doctoral programmes at the University of Basel, which requires both the grade for master’s thesis and the weighted average grade of master’s degree being individually equivalent to or better than a 4.5. Applicants with an education from an institution with a different grade scale than 6–1 should attach a confirmed conversion scale that shows how the grades can be compared with the Swiss 6–1 scale.

Emphasis is also placed on your:

  • Motivation and potential for research in the field of empirical literary studies and literacy
  • Ability to work independently and in a team
  • Ability to work structured and to handle a heavy workload
  • Good command of English both orally and written
  • Oral and written fluency in German and in one of the Slavic languages is an advantage.



The call is open to applicants of any age and nationality who meet the abovementioned local qualification requirements as well as the following requirements at the recruitment date:

  • Must hold a (Research) Master’s Degree (e.g., Master of Science or Master of Arts) which would grant them access to doctoral level studies in the country where the degree was conferred.
  • Must not already hold a doctoral title and must have less than 4 years (full­‑time equivalent) of research experience. Full­‑time­‑equivalent research experience is measured starting from the date the applicants obtained their Master’s degree or equivalent qualification entitling them to embark on a doctorate, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged.
  • Must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.


Project proposal

Part of your application is a short document describing how you would approach the research. This is a crucial part of the evaluation as it is meant to reflect your writing ability, creativity and grasp of theory and research. It is therefore crucial that you make you best effort toward making the document reflective of your true abilities. When composing your text regarding the project you may want to consider:

  • What are the features of well­‑working reading and literacy promoting programs? How paper­‑based and digital reading experiences might differ, considering the targeted group (children in their early years)?
  • What paper­‑based and digital reading experiences will be implemented in the project to promote literary reading in early years?
  • Which features of reading and literacy promotion programs do you consider most likely to impact the response of a child? How do you plan to approach them in a research setting?
  • Which specific measures do you think are relevant in studying the relationship between literacy development, engagement of children in the reading process and school success and well­‑being, in the context of digital age? More specifically, when targeting children in their early years?

The description above is purposely vague. Try to make specific critiques or suggestions to how you would proceed from this vague description to make it more concrete.

You may find the following texts useful to prepare yourself for writing your application proposal:

  Appleyard, J. A. (1990) Becoming a Reader: The Experience of Fiction from Childhood to Adulthood, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  Bus, G. A., Takacs, K. Z. & Kegel, A. T. (2015) Affordances and limitations of storybooks for young children’s emergent literacy. Developmental Review, 35, pp. 79–97.
  Cremin, T., Mottram, M., Collins, F. M., Powell, S., Safford, K. (2014). Building Communities of Engaged Readers: Reading for pleasure. London; New York: Routledge, 2014. ISBN: 978­‑1­‑138­‑77748­‑4
  Kucirkova, N., Littleton, K., Cremin, T. (2017). Young children’s reading for pleasure with digital books: six key facets of engagement. Cambridge Journal of Education, 47(1) pp. 67–84.


We offer


Other information

Candidates can apply for a maximum of three different ESR positions in the ELIT training network. In case of multiple applications, applicants should submit one application with a separate research statement for each position and specify the priority order in their personal statement.


Contact information

More information on the position can be obtained from Dr. Zuzana Petrová, Assoc. Prof. (main supervisor), e‑mail: e-mail. Information about the appointment procedure can be obtained from the dean’s secretary office, e‑mail: e-mail.



To apply for this position please follow the link “Call for applications” at the https://www.​elitnetwork.​eu/​ opened in a new window
(usually regards external link) website. Register your application and CV including relevant education and work experience. In your application letter you must show your research interests and motivation to apply for the position.

The following documents must be uploaded as attachments to your application in separate files:

  • Personal statement (detailing the applicant’s motivations and goals within the program).
  • Detailed CV (max 2 pages) with emphasis on academic achievements.
  • Project proposal (max 3 pages): (detailing how the applicant would approach the research project; please refer to the reading list of each position sheet to prepare your research statement).
  • Copy of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree certificate and transcript of records.
  • Diploma Supplement or List of courses, grade/rank, teachers (optional).
  • A reference letter by the MA supervisor and one other academic (or professionally relevant) reference.
  • Copy of the ID document.

All documents must be submitted in English. For certificates and other official documents in any other language, an English translation of each one must be provided. If the total size of the attachments exceeds 30 MB, they must be compressed before upload. Information and documentation to be taken into account in the assessment must be submitted within the application deadline: 15.06.2020 02:00 pm (Central Europe Time).

Trnava University

Historical Trnava University (TU) represents one of the oldest universities in Slovakia. Trnava University was established by Cardinal Peter Pázmaň in 1635 and consisted of four faculties (colleges) of: theology, arts, law and medicine. The university became well­‑known also thanks to an observatory founded by Maximilián Hell, a university library, gardens and a theatre. It existed for 142 years and in 1777, it was moved to Buda. The National Council of the Slovak Republic re­‑established Trnava University on March 25, 1992 pursuant to Act No. 191/1992 and reopened it on July 1, 1992. Its Faculty of Education is since 2010 repeatedly awarded as the best Faculty of Education in Slovakia (by ARRA, Academic raking and ranking agency) and in 2016 also received the award for the best achievements in educational research in Slovakia from the National Accreditation Committee.

Research programme of the Department of School Pedagogy focuses on approaching education as development of cultural literary, with specific interest in school and curricular policy and provides an excellent environment for interdisciplinary research, involving education and didactics, social and cognitive psychology, literacy studies and philosophy.