PhD-Position: Economic and Social History (Utrecht University)

RHN 127/2014 | Opportunity

ERC-funded project “Coordinating for life. Success and failure of Western European societies in coping with rural hazards and disasters, 1300-1800”, Utrecht University (Netherlands)

Apply no later than: 18 December 2014

“Window of opportunity or death-blow?
Long-term responses of rural economy and society to plagues”

About the organisation

Utrecht University is one of Europe’s leading research universities, recognised internationally for its high quality and innovative approach to both research and teaching. Founded in 1636, the University has always focused strongly on research. Owing to its solid grounding in discipline- based scholarship, Utrecht University is at the forefront of developments in interdisciplinary knowledge. The University participates in various thematic multidisciplinary collaborations that conduct excellent research. With its prominence in teaching and research, Utrecht University works towards finding solutions of the highest possible impact and significance to the major challenges facing the 21st century.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 7,000 students and 900 staff members. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and motivated colleagues and the excellent facilities in the historic town centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is located, provide a stimulating professional atmosphere.


As a Phd you will work within the ERC-funded project “Coordinating for life. Success and failure of Western European societies in coping with rural hazards and disasters, 1300-1800”, which aims to explain why some societies are successful in preventing the effects of major hazards and buffering threats, or in recovering quickly, while others prove highly vulnerable. A main element in the project is a comparative analysis, using selected Northwestern European regions as test areas. The project is funded by the European Research Council, by way of an Advanced Grant awarded to project-coordinator Prof. Bas van Bavel.

Within the project, 1 PhD position will be available:

  • The PhD (starting preferably 1 April 2015) will work on WP5 explaining the success and failure of societies in coping with plagues (Work Package 5: “Window of opportunity or death-blow? Long-term responses of rural economy and society to plagues”). More specifically, the PhD will concentrate on the responses of societies to the Black Death around the middle of the fourteenth century.

You will be based at Utrecht University, and be part of the research team led by prof. Bas van Bavel and will as such also be part of the department History and Art History, Section Economic and Social History, led by prof. Bas van Bavel and prof. Jan Luiten van Zanden.

A successful candidate should preferably have:

  • a (research) master degree in history, or in economics or another social science with clear interest in economic and social history;
  • some experience with both qualitative and quantitative research and methods for comparative research;
  • interest for relevant theory;
  • an outstanding record of undergraduate and Master's degree work;
  • capacity or at least willingness to collaborate across the academic disciplines;
  • capacity to work both as a creative and independent researcher and as part of a team.
  • ability to work in an international, interdisciplinary team.

Additional information

Are you interested? For more information about the project please contact the project leader prof. dr. Bas van Bavel, email: For practical information and questions please contact Linda Westerink, email:

Applicants are also advised to consult the extensive description of the project: tion.pdf

Please note that the sub-project there (Work Package 5) is indicated as a postdoc-project, but now is advertised as a PhD project.


Applicants should send a cover letter and a curriculum vitae, certified copies of relevant diplomas, one recent academic publication, the contact details of two referees (names, affiliations and phone numbers or email addresses; preferably, reference letters are included) and a 600-word research design proposal, in which the applicant presents his/her ideas about the relevant project. Included in this proposal in an indication of the specific position and Work Package you are applying for. Please note that applications without this 600-word research design proposal will not be included in the subsequent selection procedure! Please refer to the position you are applying for and use the application button below to apply.


We offer a full-time PhD position (1,0 fte), beginning 1 April 2015 (or earlier), consisting of an initial period of 18 months which, after a satisfactory first year, will be extended by another 30 months (4 years in total), with a gross monthly salary starting at € 2,083,- in the first year, ending at € 2.664,- in the fourth year (1,0 fte). Utrecht University offers a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities. More information: terms of employment

Interviews with selected candidates will take place on 19 January or 22 January 2015. Respond before 18 December 2014.