What are you looking for?


  • For Dutch and international scholars
  • Three to five members
  • Five months at NIAS
  • By application or invitation
  • Private or shared offices
  • Accommodation for international members


Anja de Haas, anja.de.haasgruijs@nias.knaw.nl or (0)20 224 67 05

Theme-group Fellowships

A NIAS research theme group is an international group. This group of researchers can be made up of three to five researchers for five consecutive months. Researchers work both individually and as a team on a clearly defined research topic with the aim of producing research outcomes such as a book, scientific paper or conference.

NIAS theme groups may be initiated by the Director of the institute or by application.

For more information with regard to the facilities offered during a fellowship see “What NIAS Offers“.

Who can apply

Only a researcher at a Dutch university (theme group coordinator) can apply for a NIAS theme group. In order to be considered eligible by NIAS for a theme group-fellowship, the following criteria and rules are applicable (for the coordinator as well as the other members):

  • At least 3 years of post-Ph.D. degree academic experience
  • The proposal should be related to the field of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The research proposal should be original (and not an amended version of an application previously rejected by NIAS)
  • Group members must have an affiliation with a university or research institute during the period of the fellowship. Guest researchers and researchers with a so called ‘nul-aanstelling’ (‘zero-hours contract’) are not eligible for application. The NIAS Fellowship does not constitute an employment relationship: the fellow is and remains an employee of his or her own university or research institute. NIAS is thus not obligated to make social insurance contributions or to contribute to pension or unemployment insurances
  • Applicants can only apply for either an individual fellowship or a theme-group fellowship in a single year, not for both
  • If applicants were granted with an earlier fellowship at NIAS, they can apply for a new fellowship 10 years after finishing the first fellowship
  • A completed online application form with all requested documents uploaded


The selection procedure for a NIAS theme group consists of two phases.


For the initial phase there is no specific form: the theme group initiator is requested to provide a short proposal of no more than two pages that includes

  • topic and main idea of the theme group
  • a description of the interdisciplinary character of the proposal
  • evidence of the benefit of group collaboration
  • the expected research product
  • a list of the preferred theme group members (max. 5)
  • details of the main applicant


This document should be sent by e-mail to: Application@nias.knaw.nl, citing theme-group application.

Full proposal

The NIAS director and the Academic Advisory Board evaluate the pre-proposals on the basis of the following criteria:

  • the academic status of the applicant and participants
  • originality, quality, interdisciplinary character of the proposal and evidence of the benefit of group collaboration
  • the expected impact of the theme group on the participants’ research fields
  • whether the NIAS interdisciplinary environment will augment the research
  • an account of how the planned activities will lead to a joint end product(s)
  • the coordinator’s leadership qualities

The theme-group coordinator may be invited to discuss his/her pre-proposal with the NIAS Directorate. This discussion may be followed by an invitation to send in a more elaborate (full) proposal.
The full proposal is an expanded short proposal that contains both the theme group application as well as the individual fellowship application forms of all group members. The expanded theme group proposal (max. 1500 words) should include:

  • topic and main idea of the theme group
  • a description of the interdisciplinary and innovative character of the proposal
  • position in relation to current research in the field
  • evidence of the benefit of group collaboration and the manner in which the NIAS environment will contribute to this collaboration
  • intended manner of dissemination of the expected research products (e.g. lectures, articles, monographs, constitution of databases, websites)
  • a definitive list of the theme-group members (max. 5)

The full proposal must be submitted via the application form on this website. All theme-group members should also submit their application, including a research proposal for their own individual project. It is recommended that the theme group coordinator organizes this process since only applications that contain all individual fellowship forms will be selected for further evaluation. The theme group coordinator should provide both the full theme group proposal and a proposal for his own individual project.

All correctly submitted full proposals are screened for eligibility on the basis of the above mentioned criteria under “who can apply”. Applications that fit the eligibility criteria are sent to independent external reviewers. If group members do not meet the criteria, the coordinator is notified by email. The individual applications are evaluated both on their individual merits as well as in terms of their contribution to the theme-group proposal.

The full theme-group proposal application and coordinator and members’ details are sent to external reviewers whose fields match the topic of the research proposal. They are asked to evaluate the application with respect to the above-mentioned criteria.

Based on the reviewers’ assessments the NIAS director decides which applicant will be invited for a NIAS theme group.

Time path

Call for theme-group proposals for the academic year 2020/21:
• Call for pre-proposals: 15 January– 15 February
• Discussion of short proposals with NIAS directorate: 16 February – 15 March
• If applicants are invited to send in a full proposal, their application must be submitted before 15 April 17.00

Past & present Fellows