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PhDs in the Humanities

Externally or self-funded PhD candidates


PhD candidates at the Faculty of Humanities have two supervisors, one of them being a full professor. In principle, PhD candidates see their supervisor(s) once a month to discuss progress.

First year assessment

After the first year, PhD candidates are evaluated on the basis of a pilot study — a 30-50 page paper or chapter which demonstrates the candidate’s ability to handle the material and object of the thesis in an academic way. If the supervisors are satisfied by the quality of the pilot study and the revised work plan, the contract with the PhD candidate will be extended by three years. After this first evaluation, the PhD candidates are asked to report on their progress on a yearly basis.

Research funding

Externally or self-funded PhD candidates are entitled to a small budget of up to € 3,000 for the entire duration of their PhD programme. The budget is particularly intended for travel and accommodation costs related to presentations at conferences. The second spending target is the reimbursement of costs related to the completion of the dissertation, such as translation/editing work and printing costs. In some cases, other research costs such as travel costs to conduct research in specialist libraries.

Another € 500 per PhD candidate is allocated for enrolment costs at National Research Schools. See PhD training tab.

To apply for this funding, please send a message to:

UvAnet and Library Access

Externally or self-funded PhD candidates receive a UvAnet ID which gives access to databases and electronic journals to which the UvA Library subscribes. The UvAnet ID will also give access to email facilities, both with an email client and with webmail, and a login for UvA computers.

Office Space

At the Faculty of Humanities the departments are responsible for providing office space. If possible, the research school will try to arrange a flexible work space for externally or self-funded PhD candidates.


The research schools, the Graduate School of Humanities and the National Research Schools all offer PhD training. Their programmes are open to 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 (max. 1000 words).
  3. Rewrite the proposal according to the advice provided by the supervisor, and together look for a second supervisor.
  4. Ask your supervisors to write a short statement confirming their commitment to the project and an argumentation of how the project contributes to the programme of the research school (max. 250 words).
  5. Send the proposal (see guidelines below), including a CV/résumé, your complete address, and a copy of your passport, together with your supervisor's statement by email to the coordinator of the school.
  6. Upon acceptance, you will be asked to fill out a ‘work plan’ and a form ‘acceptance to the defence’. After 12 months, your progress will be evaluated by your supervisors and the director of the school on the basis of a pilot study (draft chapter).

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.

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

1. Supervisors

For each project there need to be two supervisors, one of which should be a full professor.

  • Supervisor 1:
  • Supervisor 2:

2. PhD candidate

3. Title of research proposal

4. Summary (max. 250 words)

Please provide a brief summary  of the project in English.

5. Project proposal (max. 2,000 or 2,500 words--depending on the Research School)

  • Central issues/aims (why)
  • Methods (how)
  • Objects of Research (what)
  • Work plan for 4 years, please specify starting date and prospective completion date (when)
  • Importance for the Research School

6. Academic Curriculum Vitae PhD candidate

  • Full Address Details
  • Education
  • Professional information
  • Publications
  • Grants, Honors, etc.

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

The intended PhD candidate briefly describes here his or her motivation for doing scientific research and his or her experience is relevant for carrying out the project proposed. This brief explanation may contain a maximum of 300 words.

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

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

Please send the above information, together with a copy of your passport and a copy of your MA degree to the coordinator of your school by email.

Admission to the doctoral programme