Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam


What’s new in the world of esotericism research

APPLY NOW! 2 PhD candidates ‘History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents’

Categories: Opportunity

Faculty of Humanities – Amsterdam School of Historical Studies

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute of Humanistic Research. The Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH), one of the six research schools, currently has 2 vacant PhD positions as part of the research conducted by The Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents (HHP), led by prof. Wouter Hanegraaff. Applications are now invited from excel- lent candidates who wish to conduct research on the history of Western esotericism.

Job description

The Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents (HHP) was founded in 1999 and plays a leading international role in its area of research. The Center is part of the Department of History, European Studies and Study of Religion (GER) and participates in the Study of Religion curriculum. The staff members of HHP provide a series of three modules in the Bachelor Study of Religion, a one-year Master ‘Western Esotericism’, and a specialization in ‘Western Esotericism’ within the Two-Year Research Master Study of Religion. HHP consists of three permanent staff members (one professor and two associate professors) and two PhD students. The Center 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 ‘Western esotericism’. These include movements such as Hermetism and Gnostic religion in late antiquity; medieval occult sciences and arts, including astrology, alchemy, and magic (natural, astral and ritual); the revival of Platonism and related currents during the Renaissance in the context of prisca theologia, philosophia perennis, and philosophia occulta; early modern currents such as Paracelsianism, Christian Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, 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. Please note that although the research should be focused on Western esotericism, this can include historical research into processes of dissemina- tion towards / interaction with non-Western cultures. For a representative sample of the discipline, see the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (ed. WJ Hanegraaff et al.), Brill: Leiden / Boston 2005; and for a short introduction, see W.J. Hanegraaff, Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed, Bloomsbury: London 2013. The intention is that one of the two candidates will carry out/undertake research on a relevant topic within the historical period from the Late Middle Ages / Renaissance to the 18th century, and the other within the period from the 18th century to the present. Tasks of the PhD candidate will include:
  • completion and defence of a PhD thesis within four years;
  • participation in meetings of the project research group;
  • presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • participation in the training program of the Graduate School / Research school.


​The successful applicant must have:
  • a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline of the humanities, preferably with a historical focus;
  • sufficient demonstrable familiarity with the research area covered by the center HHP, and its relevant subdomain;
  • excellent oral and written command of English, and of any other languages that are relevant to the research project.

Further information

For any practical questions please contact the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies at


The PhD candidate will be appointed for 1.0 FTE (38 hours per week) for a period of 48 months at the Department of History, European Studies & Religious Studies of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. Initially a contract will be given for 12 months, with an extension for the following 36 months on the basis of a positive evaluation. During the last three years it will be possible to use up to 0.2 FTE to gain teaching experience. The in- tended starting date of the contract is 1 January 2017. The gross monthly salary (on full-time basis) will be €2,174 during the first year to €2,779 during the fourth year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

Applications should include the following information, in one pdf file (not zipped): – a letter of motivation, stating why he/she wants to do this research (no more than one page); – a research proposal that contains at least the following:
  1. the title of the research project;
  2. a brief description of the research question (a few lines);
  3. a longer description of the research project, with due attention to methodology and the nature/availability of the relevant source material (2 to 4 pages, line spacing 1 ½);
  4. an explanation of academic relevance and importance of the research project;
  5. a bibliography;
  6. a provisional planning, subdivided in periods of six months;
  7. a summary of expected additional material costs.
– a full academic CV; – a list of grades obtained for the Bachelor and Master (or equiv- alent) programmes; – the names, with contact information, of two senior academics who are familiar with the candidate and are willing to be consulted for additional information. Please submit your complete application no later than 15 July 2016 to solliciteren2016-FGW@uva.nl. Only complete applications (one pdf-file) submitted to this email address will be considered. Please state vacancy number 16-233 in the subject line of your application. Interviews will take place in the autumn of 2016. No agencies please
 Apply now   
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