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Leiden University Faculty of Humanities PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowship Programs 2020, Netherlands

Leiden University


January 31, 2019

Opportunity Cover Image - Leiden University Faculty of Humanities PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowship Programs 2020, Netherlands

4 PhD candidates or postdoctoral researchers (1.0 FTE) for the project The Tocharian Trek: A linguistic reconstruction of the migration of the Tocharians from Europe to China

Project description

The Tocharian Trek is a linguistic test of the hypothesis that early speakers of Tocharian moved from the Indo-European homeland first to southern Siberia, where they can be identified with the Afanasievo Culture, and then south into the Tarim Basin in Northwest China. The prehistory of Tocharian is reconstructed on the basis of its position in the Indo-European family tree and contacts with Uralic, Turkic and Middle Indic. The project is led by PI Dr Michaël Peyrot and funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council. Contacts of Tocharian with Iranian are the topic of the NWO-funded sister project "Tracking the Tocharians".

Position 1: The phylogenetic position of Tocharian

It is often claimed that Tocharian was, after Anatolian, the second branch to leave the Indo-European homeland. In this subproject, this problem is to be investigated in a systematic way, focusing on finding additional evidence against or in support of this claim.

Position 2: Linguistic contacts between Tocharian and Uralic

Tocharian shows many typological parallels with Uralic, which may be due to language contact. In this subproject, typological parallels between Tocharian and Uralic, especially Proto-Uralic and Proto-Samoyedic, are to be investigated. Lexical evidence for language contact is to be included as far as possible.

Position 3: Linguistic contacts between Tocharian and Turkic

Tocharian has been in contact with Turkic languages in several periods of time. In this project, it is to be investigated where and when such contacts may have taken place. Contacts with Old Uyghur may be taken into account, while the focus should be on prehistoric contacts, taking into account evidence from for instance Chuvash and Mongolian.

Position 4: Linguistic contacts between Tocharian and Middle Indic

The Gāndhārī variety of Niya in the south of the Tarim Basin has been claimed to show influence from a Tocharian dialect. In this subproject, all possible evidence relevant to this claim may be taken into account, notably: spelling peculiarities, hitherto obscure words and akṣaras as well as Iranian loanwords.

All four positions are open to applications at PhD (4 years, 38 hours per week) as well as at Postdoc level (3 years, 38 hours per week) and should start April 2019.

Key responsibilities

  • Writing a PhD thesis under the daily supervision of Dr Michaël Peyrot and the official supervision of Professor Alexander Lubotsky (PhD candidates only);
  • Discussing and sharing (unpublished) results with the other team members;
  • Submitting research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals;
  • Presenting papers at (international) conferences;
  • Organizing and participating in reading and discussions groups, seminars and workshops within LUCL.

Selection criteria

  • An MA (for PhD candidates) or PhD degree (for postdocs) in a relevant field;
  • Demonstrable affinity with historical linguistics and linguistic reconstruction (knowledge of Tocharian is an advantage, but not a strict requirement);
  • A scientific focus and creative approach, excellent analytical skills, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • Good writing skills;
  • Proficiency in English.

Our Faculty/Institute

The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics and area studies covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 995, the faculty provides 27 master’s and 25 bachelor’s programmes for over 7,000 students.

Leiden University has a longstanding tradition in research in the world’s languages and features unique linguistic expertise. LUCL unites historical linguistics with other linguistic subdisciplines such as descriptive linguistics, sociolinguistics and general linguistics in its research profile area "Language Diversity in the World".

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Linguistics . In addition to thorough research training, our graduate school offers a variety of courses aimed at training of professional and personal skills. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the national research school (LOT).

Terms and conditions

The employment of PhD candidates will be for a period of four years (first a contract of 18 months with an extension of 30 months after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility) and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Appointment will be under the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is set on €2,266 in the first year up to €2,897 gross per month in year four, based on fulltime employment (pay scale P).

The employment of postdocs will be for a period of three years (first a contract of 12 months, with an extension of 24 months after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility). Appointment will be under the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. Depending on education and work experience, the salary range is from €2,640 to €4,852 gross per month (pay scale 10 or 11), based on a full-time appointment. Please be aware that due to the project budget the employment period and/or FTE may be adjusted depending on your salary scale.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


For further information on these subprojects please contact Dr Michaël Peyrot,, or on practical matters Maarit van Gammeren,


Applicants are kindly requested to submit the following documents electronically (in Dutch or English):

  • A letter stating your motivation for the position you apply for, explaining how your expertise is relevant to carrying out the research;
  • CV;
  • A short research proposal (max. 1000 words) for one of the positions mentioned above, in which you describe how you would plan the project, which research questions you would formulate, which sources you would use, which matters you find in need of special attention, how you would tackle any existing deficiencies in your knowledge, etc.;
  • References: the names and contact details (email addresses) of two persons whom we may contact for further information. One of these should be your MA thesis supervisor (for PhD candidates) or your PhD supervisor (for postdocs);
  • Copies of your academic transcripts (for PhD candidates);
  • A copy of your MA thesis (for PhD candidates) or PhD dissertation (for postdocs), and any other publication in English that is representative for your research qualities.

Please submit these documents in two files:
I – containing documents 1 to 5 (PDF or Word file), using your last name underscore 1 as document name (e.g. JANSEN_1.pdf).
II – containing document 6 (PDF or Word file), using your last name underscore 2 as document name (e.g. JANSEN_2.pdf).

Applicants should submit their application (documents as described above) no later than 31 January 2019. Applications should be sent to, clearly indicating the application number. Selected candidates may be invited for an interview in February 2019. You are kindly requested to be available in this period.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Study Levels
Job Type
Publish Date
December 14, 2018


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