PhD candidates in Middle East History (Arabic and Persian) and Papyrology (Coptic and Greek), USA

Publish Date: Aug 30, 2016

Deadline: Sep 14, 2016

Project description

The 3 PhD candidates will carry out research in the framework of the ERC-funded project, “Embedding Conquest: Naturalising Muslim Rule in the Early Islamic Empire (600-1000)” headed by Prof. Dr. Petra Sijpesteijn (PI). This project is to understand the success of the early Islamic empire (600-1000 CE) using the vastly important but largely neglected documentary evidence from the Muslim world. Examining all written expressions of social hierarchical relations, the goal of this project is to uncover the deeper social structures that underlay the Arab-Islamic empire and to reconstruct the system of shared expectations, assumptions and codes that underwrote its cohesion, and how these changed over time.

The three PhD candidates will each write a dissertation within one of three specified topics within the project focusing on different linguistic sources and concentrating on specific geographical areas. They will also identify and prepare materials from their respective source base for the project’s online database of linguistic expressions describing social hierarchical relations. They will participate in regular team meetings and present their research findings at scholarly venues. For details, read the appendix.

Key responsibilities

  • Write a PhD dissertation;
  • Carry out and publish original research;
  • Gather linguistic expressions for incorporation in the database;
  • Disseminate the project to non-academic parties and on social media;
  • Co organize conferences and workshops;
  • Prepare the proceedings of the conference for publication in an open-access volume or thematic journal issue.

Selection criteria (general)

  • An MA degree in a relevant field;
  • Fluency in English;
  • Willingness to work in an international and competitive research environment;
  • Ability to work independently and as part of and in support of a larger team;
  • For specific criteria for each of the three positions, see the appendix.

Our Faculty/ Institute

The Faculty of Humanities is an international centre for the study of languages, cultures, arts, and societies worldwide, in their historical contexts from prehistory to the present. We take culture broadly to include religions, philosophies, and worldviews as well as literature art, and technology. We aim to contribute to knowledge, the sustainable well-being of societies, and the understanding of the cognitive, historical, cultural, artistic, and social aspects of human life. In research and teaching, we focus on Dynamics of Diversity, meaning the mobility of people, language, culture, ideas, art, and institutions in a globalizing world, and their interconnectivity through the ages. Our faculty is home to more than 5,400 students and 800 staff members.

The postdoctoral fellow will hold a position in the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS). LIAS is committed to the integration of disciplinary and regional-historical perspectives, on a solid foundation of excellent language skills, and comprises a School of Asian Studies and a School of Middle-Eastern Studies.

Terms and conditions

We offer a fulltime, fixed-term post from 1 February 2017 until 31 January 2021. The appointment will initially be for 12 months and if evaluated positively, will be extended for 3 years and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis.
The salary range for a PhD candidate is from € 2,191. - to € 2,779. - gross per month (pay-scale PhD candidates).

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. 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.


Applications must be received no later than 14 September 2016. Interviews are planned for the end of September 2016. Applications should be in English, and be submitted to, with the items listed below included in this order in one single PDF document named ‘FAMILY NAME – Given name – 16-252:

  • A CV including education and employment history and publications;
  • A letter of motivation;
  • A 3-page research proposal of a specific research topic proposed within the overarching PhD project including a short sample biography (indicating well which PhD project the proposal pertains to);
  • Names, positions and email addresses of two referees (no reference letters).

For more information click "Further official information" below.

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Eligible Countries


United States