Would you like to earn a Ph.D. studying esotericism in Amsterdam?

…And applications focusing on ancient studies are most welcome! For the original post, see here.

Two PhD Positions at the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies

Faculteit/Dienst:  Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen

Opleidingsniveau:  Master

Functie type:  Wetenschappelijk Personeel

Sluitingsdatum:  20 August 2022

Vacaturenummer:  9238

The Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH) invites applications for two PhD positions at the Faculty of Humanities, tenable from 1 January 2023, for doctoral research in the field of the history of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents.

ASH represents and fosters the study of the human past from Antiquity to the present day. It brings together about 200 academics who participate in ca. 16 research groups. ASH is one of the six Research Schools/Institutes within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. Each research school/institute covers an important research area within the faculty and has its own research programme, and is also the home base for PhD candidates, who interact with each other and with senior members in the research groups that make up the research school.

The Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents (HHP) was founded in 1999 and plays a leading international role in its area of research. The Centre is part of the Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies (GER) and participates in the Religious Studies teaching curriculum. It consists of five permanent staff members and several PhD students. The Centre focuses on critical historical research into a complex of movements in the border area between religion, philosophy, and science, today studied under the umbrella term of ‘esotericism’. These include broad cultural traditions such as astrology, alchemy, and magic; and, with respect to historical periodisation, movements such as Neo-Platonism, Hermetism and Gnosticism in late antiquity; the transmission of the so-called occult sciences and the emergence of esoteric traditions in Judaism (Kabbalah) and Islam (Sufism) during the medieval period; the revival of Platonism and related currents during the Renaissance in the context of prisca theologiaphilosophia perennis, and philosophia occulta; early modern and modern currents such as Paracelsianism, Christian theosophy, Kabbalah (both Jewish and Christian), Rosicrucianism, high-degree freemasonry, and illuminism; 19th-century movements such as spiritualism, occultism, and traditionalism; related popular currents of ‘alternative spirituality’ such as the New Age movement; and various forms of contemporary esotericism in popular culture. We are particularly interested in currents and movements that have taken shape in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic contexts, both separately or in conversation with each other, but we are also interested in processes of interaction with and dissemination in other cultural contexts.

We will consider research proposals focusing on any of the currents, movements, and periods mentioned above.

What are you going to do

You will execute your doctoral research on the basis of your own proposal, within a research area of the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies, under the supervision of at least two senior researchers of the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents.

Tasks and responsibilities: 

  • submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • presenting intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • participation in the Research School and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes;
  • possible teaching deployment at BA-level in the 2nd and 3rd year of the appointment, for a maximum of 0,2 FTE per year.

What do you have to offer

You are a talented researcher, are motivated to embark on a four-year project, are able to work independently while guided by your supervisors, and have the communication skills to present your research clearly in papers, talks, and the final dissertation.


  • a completed Master’s degree in a field relevant to the proposed PhD project, e.g. Religious Studies, or any other field in the Humanities that could be relevant for the study of esotericism;
  • You may apply if you have not yet completed your Master’s degree, but only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before 1 January 2023;
  • excellent research skills demonstrated by an outstanding Master’s thesis and/or a track record of academic publications;
  • excellent command of English.

Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.

What can we offer you

We offer a temporary employment contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours a week. The preferred starting date is 1 January 2023.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges from € 2443 up to a maximum of € 3122. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

What else do we offer

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in the field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutions in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes. 

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

  • Marco Pasi, Director of the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents   

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the link below. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 20 August 2022.

Applications should include the following information (submitted in one pdf document):

  1. A research proposal of 800-1000 words, showing how you would approach the project:
    • An outline of central issue/problem/question (why)
    • Object(s) of research (what)
    • Methodology (how)
    • How your research fits the programme of ASH (e.g. specific research groups or centres within ASH: https://ash.uva.nl/research/research.html) and particularly the research interests of the HHP Centre. 
  2. A full academic CV, listing at least:
    • Full address and contact details
    • Previous education 
    • Professional information (previous university (or relevant) employment)
    • Conference presentations and publications, if applicable
    • Grants/honours
    • Language proficiency
  3. Motivation for doing PhD research (no more than 200 words)
  4. A list of grades (transcript) obtained for your Master (or equivalent) programme; at this stage a certified document is not yet necessary
  5. The name and contact details of one or two academic referees
  6. A writing sample, such as a paper or a chapter of a master’s thesis, of up to 10000 words maximum.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.

No agencies please.