External Funding Opportunities

The most important funding agencies for the humanities are The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the European Union and the European Research Council (ERC), and the The European Science Foundation (ESF). 

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

foremost promoters of scientific research in the Netherlands. Over the years the Dutch research council has awarded many scholars funding. NWO promotes scientific research at Dutch universities and institutes through nearly 120 different programmes and grants.

Researchers can apply for subsidies within large research programmes as defined by NWO or as part of a free competition; in the latter case the research object is put forward by the researcher. Personal grants (like the well-known Vernieuwingsimpuls) stimulate individual researchers. Other subsidies facilitate (international) cooperation, finance the use of large-scale facilities and enable investments. An overview of the many granting opportunities on offer at NWO is presented here.

For the Leiden Institute for History several NWO programmes have demonstrated their importance. Particularly the following funding schemes have enlarged the Institute’s research capacity and have substantially contributed to the Institute’s research output:

Free Competition in the Humanities
This subsidy aims at research programmes consisting of a minimum of two tightly interconnected projects, resulting in a synthesizing end product. As a rule in this framework a senior researcher and a number of PhD and postdoctoral researchers collaborate on a specific research theme. More information.

PhDs in the Humanities
The aim of this PhD programme is to attract young research talent in the humanities so as to counteract the trend of an aging scientific staff. Two types of PhD position can be applied for: standard PhD positions and PhD positions for lecturers. Proposals can only be submitted for PhD students who are selected by deans of the faculties involved. More information.  

This programme aims at helping representatives of ethnic minorities into the world of science. Applicants aspiring to obtain a PhD position must be graduates from or final-year students at a Dutch university who have received their entire university education in the Netherlands, or – if they have taken only their university Master’s degree here – have been resident in the Netherlands for at least five years. In addition, both of the applicant’s parents – or the applicant and minimally one parent – must have been born in one of the specified countries. More information

The aim of the Rubicon programme is to encourage talented researchers at Dutch universities and research institutes run by KNAW and NWO to dedicate themselves to a career in postdoctoral research. Rubicon offers researchers who have completed their doctorates in the past year the chance to gain experience at a top research institution outside the Netherlands (maximum of two years). The programme also offers talented researchers from abroad the opportunity to obtain grants to spend one year conducting research in the Netherlands. More information.

Vernieuwingsimpuls/Innovational Research Incentives Scheme
This programme is directed at the promotion of innovation and encourages individual researchers to conduct their own research programme independently and to enter and remain committed to the scientific profession. The programme is subdivided into three parts: Veni (for researchers who have recently taken their PhD), Vidi (for more experienced researchers who want to develop their own innovative line of research and appoint one or more co-researchers) and Vici (for senior researchers to build their own research group). More information.

European Union / European Research Council (ERC)

The European Union makes financial support for research available chiefly through calls for proposals, which are issued for each specific programme of the Framework Programme. The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which will run until 2013, is subdivided into four programmes. The 'Cooperation' programme supports research cooperation in a number of key thematic areas, addressing specific sectors. 'Ideas' funds investigator-driven research through a newly created European Research Council (ERC). The 'People' programme supports training and researchers' career development, while 'Capacities' funds the coordination and development of research infrastructure, regional research clusters, international cooperation and closer ties between science and society. More information

The above mentioned European Research Council (ERC) provides ERC Starting Grants and ERC Advanced Grants enabling excellent scholars at different levels of seniority to pursue an international research line of their own. Particularly the setting up of frontier research projects is encouraged. More information.

The European Science Foundation (ESF)

The European Science Foundation (ESF) provides a common platform for its member organizations (including NWO) in order to advance European research and explore new directions for research at the European level. Among the many research initiatives supported by the ESF (mainly related to workshops, conferences, joint programmes and ‘forward looks’) the European Young Investigator Awards scheme (EURYI) appeals to promising scholars. The aim of the EURYI Awards is to enable outstanding young researchers from all over the world to work in an European environment for the benefit of the development of European science and for building up the next generation of leading European scholars. Since 2006, however, the programme is no longer open for application. Future calls of EURYI are indefinitely postponed. More information.


Writing research proposals for funding agencies requires considerable investments in time and effort. It is common practice to involve from the start colleagues in the planning and designation of a research project.

In the preparation process the director of research of the Institute for Philosophy, prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm, offers guidance and assistance. He comments on versions of the proposal and is instrumental in the training of applicants who are invited for an interview at a funding agency. 

In the Faculty of Humanities a special expert committee evaluates proposals prior to their submission at a funding agency. All applicants are expected to make use of the expertise of this committee. Secretary of the committee is drs. A.M. Hendriks, who can provide information on the committee’s meetings and on the deadlines for handing in a pre-final version of a proposal.

As far as the financial aspects of a proposal are concerned all applicants are considered to consult project controller A.J. van der Meer when drawing up the budget of their project. It is compulsory to get his approval before sending the proposal to a funding organization.

In case applications will be submitted to the European Union/ERC assistance is provided by the Leiden University Research and Innovation Services (LURIS). For the Institute for Philosophy A.K. Groeninx van Zoelen is the LURIS’ representative.

Last Modified: 17-07-2013