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Becoming a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Humanities

There are two categories of PhD candidates at the Faculty of Humanities: candidates who are employed by the Faculty, and externally or self-funded candidates.

PhD Candidates employed by the Faculty of Humanities

PhD candidates employed by the Faculty of Humanities receive funding from the Faculty or from the inter-faculty research institute ILLC. Sometimes the funding comes from EU or NWO grants, sometimes it comes directly from the Faculty. Vacancies for such positions are advertised on the UvA vacancies list and/or on the websites of the AIHR research schools and the ILLC. For more information concerning admission to the ILLC PhD programme please refer to the programme's admissions page.

Externally or self-funded PhD candidates


In order to join the Faculty of Humanities as an externally or self-funded PhD candidate you need to take the following steps:

  1. Read the Research Programmes of the research schools on the website and decide which school you want to join. Decide how your project fits in or contributes to the programme of this school.
  2. Choose a supervisor from the senior members and contact them by sending an email and a first short draft of your proposal.
  3. Rewrite the proposal according to the advice provided by the supervisor, and together look for a second supervisor. See the guidlines for the full proposal below.
  4. Ask your supervisors to write a short statement confirming their commitment to the project, with an argumentation on how the project contributes to the programme of the research school (max. 250 words).
  5. Send the proposal, including a CV, your address, copies of your BA and MA diploma's and grades, a copy of your passport, and your supervisor's statements by email to the coordinator of the school.
  6. The research school will inform you whether your application has been accepted, needs to resubmitted with revisions, or has been rejected.
  7. Upon acceptance, you will be admitted to the research school as a new PhD candidate for a probationary period of max. 18 months. After 12-18 months, your progress will be evaluated by your supervisors and the director of the school on the basis of a so-called pilot study; only if you pass the pilot study, your affiliation as a PhD candidate will be renewed.

Research proposal for externally or self-funded PhD candidates at the Faculty of Humanities

In the Netherlands, scholars are expected to prepare specific proposals, in which central questions, aims, theoretical premises, concepts, the corpus to be studied and proposed methods are described in some detail. General outlines are considered too undeveloped and therefore turned down almost immediately. This requirement is based on the idea that candidates have completed a (research) MA and that the PhD is the core activity and goal of the student. 

Proposal guidelines

Please strictly follow the format below to prepare your full proposal.

1. Supervisors

For each project there need to be two supervisors, one of which should have the ius promovendi 

  • Supervisor 1:
  • Supervisor 2:

2. Name PhD candidate

3. Curriculum Vitae PhD candidate

  • Full address details
  • Education
  • Relevant professional information
  • Publications, other relevant academic output (presentations, reviews)
  • Grants, honours, etc.
  • Relevant language skills

4. Title of research proposal

5. Summary (max. 250 words)

Please provide a brief summary of the project.

6. Project proposal (max. 2,500 words)

Please outline the following in your proposal.

  • Object(s) of research and main aims/objectives of the project
  • Research questions or hypotheses
  • Theoretical approach and methodology (min. 400 words). Please provide detailed information regarding your data/sources: how will these be obtained/selected and analysed?
  • Scientific importance of the proposed project (min. 400 words). Please provide a ‘state of the art’ of the field and explain how the project will advance the understanding of the object(s) of research and the scientific field(s) with which you engage.
  • Importance of the proposed project for the Research School
  • A work plan or planning for the project. Please specify a starting date and prospective completion date, as well as completion dates for important output (chapters, articles, data collection, etc).
  • A bibliography of important scholarly work your refer to (nb: the bibliography does not count towards the word limit)

7. Motivation for doing PhD research (max. 300 words)

Please provide your motivation for doing scientific research and any relevant experience you have for carrying out the proposed project. 

8. Recommendation by the supervisors (max. 250 words)

Both supervisors are requested to write a short statement confirming their commitment to the project and the candidate.

9. Research budget

Self-funded PhD candidates are entitled to a research budget of €3000, for costs related to presenting papers at conferences and doing fieldwork, including travel and accommodation costs; an additional €750 is available for the production of the final manuscript (printing, editing). Please provide a short breakdown of how you are planning to use this research budget.

10. Data management

Will data be collected or generated that are suitable for reuse? Yes/No

If yes, a data management plan must be made and presented here; see for more information.

11. Research ethics

Will human test subjects and/or interviewees be involved in the research? Yes/No

If yes, please provide details here; and please make sure to seek the approval of the Ethics Committee of the Faculty for your project after your admission: see for more information.

12. Previous research experience

Are you currently working towards a PhD degree elsewhere or have you worked towards a PhD degree at another institution? Yes/No If yes, please provide details: at which institution do or did you work towards a PhD degree, for how long, and are you or have you formally been admitted to a doctoral programme?

Please send the above information, together with a copy of your passport and a copy of your BA and MA degrees and grades (transcript) to the coordinator of the research school of your choice by e-mail.