International PhD Program Language Contact in the Tarim Basin: Contacts between Tocharian, Middle Iranian and Middle Indian, Netherlans

Publish Date: Nov 10, 2016

Deadline: Dec 10, 2016

PhD position - Language contact in the Tarim Basin

Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, vacancy number 16-370

Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics has a vacancy for a:

PhD position: Language contact in the Tarim Basin: Contacts between Tocharian, Middle Iranian and Middle Indian (4 years, 1.0 fte)

Vacancy number: 16-370 

Project description

This PhD position is part of Michaël Peyrot’s NWO-funded VIDI project “Tracking the Tocharians” . In this project, the migration route of the Tocharians from the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the steppes of Eastern Europe to the Tarim Basin in Northwest China is reconstructed on the basis of contacts between Tocharian and other languages.

The central topic of this PhD position is formed by the contacts between Tocharian, Middle Iranian and Middle Indian.

The objective is to investigate the history and prehistory of Tocharian and neighbouring languages on the basis of language contact. Fields that may additionally be involved include history, archaeology, art history, literature and palaeography.

Key responsibilities 

  • Writing a PhD thesis;

  • Submitting research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals;

  • Presenting papers at (international) conferences;

  • Some teaching in the second and third year of the appointment;

  • Organizing and participating in reading and discussions groups, seminars, workshops within the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL).

Selection criteria

  • An MA or equivalent degree in Indo-European Linguistics, Iranian Studies, Indology, or another relevant field at the start of the contract;

  • Demonstrable affinity with historical linguistics and a good working knowledge of Sanskrit, a relevant Iranian language, or Tocharian (knowledge of Tocharian is an advantage, but not a strict requirement);

  • Scientific interest, excellent analytical skills, and the ability to work independently;

  • Proficiency in English, spoken as well as written.

Research at 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 930, the faculty provides 27 master’s and 25 bachelor’s programmes for over 6,000 students based at locations in Leiden’s historic city centre and in modern buildings in The Hague. 

Leiden University has a longstanding tradition in research in the world’s languages and features unique linguistic expertise. LUCL combines current theoretical insights and modern experimental methods in its research profile area “Language Diversity in the World”. 

Terms and conditions

The employment 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 CAO (collective labour agreement) of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is set at € 2,191.– in the first year up to € 2,801.– gross per month in year four.

An appointment with Leiden University includes a contributory pension scheme and other benefits such as an annual holiday premium of 8% and an end-of-year premium of 8.3%. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax concession.


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


Applicants are kindly requested to submit the following documents electronically in pdf format (in English):

  • A letter stating your motivation for the position.

  • Curriculum vitae.

  • A short research proposal (max. 1000 words) for a project on the topic mentioned above, in which you describe how you would plan the project, which research questions you would formulate, which sources and methods 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.

  • Copies of your academic transcripts and your MA certificate (or a letter of your supervisor confirming the expected date of your MA).

  • A copy of your MA thesis, and any other publication that is representative for your research qualities.

Applicants should submit their application before 10 December 2016. Applications should be sent to, clearly indicating the application number (16-370).

For more information click "Further official information" below.

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