What are you looking for?


  • For international teams
  • Two to five members
  • Five months at NIAS
  • By application or invitation
  • Office
  • Subsidized accommodation for international members (depending on availability)


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

NIAS Theme Group Fellowships

A NIAS Theme Group is an (international) group of researchers. It can be made up of two to five researchers who work together for five consecutive months. The researchers work both individually and as a team on a clearly defined research topic. NIAS Theme Groups are by application or may be initiated by the Director.

For one semester the Theme Group works on a project of it’s own choice that fits within the scope of humanities and/or social sciences disciplines. Fellows can apply for a stipend or Dutch University Grant, commuting travel expenses for daily commute or subsidized accommodation in Amsterdam. For more information with regard to the facilities offered during a fellowship see What NIAS Offers.

A NIAS Theme Group fellowship allows you to work together on a daily basis on a particular topic or theme. A Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study is also a residency in the true sense of the word: all fellows commit themselves to withdrawing from their quotidian obligations for a period of time to fully focus on their research project in the international, multi-disciplinary NIAS environment. Besides being offered undisturbed time and space to work on the theme group’s research project, the intellectual and informal exchanges with other fellows form the core of a NIAS residency. Participating in the daily communal lunches and weekly seminars, where fellows present their work-in-progress, therefore lie at the heart of a NIAS Fellowship.

In order to ensure the highest quality of your residency, NIAS asks fellows to be present at the Institute for at least four days a week, including participation in the weekly fellows’ seminar on Thursdays. We urgently advise fellows to make arrangements with their university before the start of their fellowship, in order to allow themselves to immerse in their residency as much as possible.

Please make sure you have taken note of these financial and practical matters.

Who can apply

Both the theme-group coordinator and the other members apply for the Theme Group Fellowship. 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 three years of post-Ph.D. degree academic experience;
  • The project proposal should be related to the field of Humanities and Social Sciences;
  • The coordinator and all theme group members should individually apply with their individual project proposal;
  • The coordinator also submits a group-project proposal;
  • Proposals should be no more than a maximum of 1500 words including footnotes, excluding bibliography and abstract;
  • 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, or self-employed. NIAS is thus not obligated to make social insurance contributions or to contribute to pension or unemployment insurances;
  • The applicant may not resubmit a project proposal that was previously rejected by NIAS;
  • Applicants can only apply for one type of fellowship per academic year (i.e. either a NIAS individual fellowship, a co-sponsored individual fellowship, a NIAS Theme Group Fellowship, or a co-sponsored Theme Group Fellowship);
  • An applicant who previously held a fellowship at NIAS may only apply for a Theme Group Fellowship or an Individual Fellowship if there are at least 10 years between the application date of the previous fellowship and the current application date;
  • The theme group coordinator should provide the names of three international experts in their field who would be suitable to approach as reviewers of the project (co-authors or scholars who are actively involved in the currently proposed research project are not permitted);
  • The application must be completed correctly and contain all the requested information and required documentation.

The proposal

The proposal contains both the group application as well as the individual fellowship application forms of all group members. The group proposal (max. 1500 words, including footnotes, excluding bibliography and abstract) should include:

  • Title, topic and main idea of the theme-group project
  • Relation of the project to existing literature in the field
  • Academic and societal relevance of the research project
  • Methodology
  • A description of the interdisciplinary character of the proposal, and expected benefit of group collaboration, and the manner in which the NIAS environment will contribute to this collaboration
  • Intended research output (e.g. lectures, articles, monographs, constitution of databases, websites)
  • A definitive list of the theme-group members (min. 2 – max. 5)

The 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 theme group proposal and a proposal for his own individual project.

Selection procedure

The selection procedure for a NIAS theme group consists of:

First round: checking on eligibility and basic academic quality criteria and collaborative motivations

In order to be eligible for application, candidates must fulfill all of the formal eligibility criteria and the basic academic quality criteria and collaborative motivations. The Selection Officer at NIAS checks whether the application complies with all the eligibility criteria. The NIAS staff committee focuses on the academic as well as collaborative motivations as described in the candidate’s application form, and checks that both are in place and concrete. If the application meets all the formal requirements it is sent to two external referees to evaluate the scientific content. If the application does not meet the formal requirements the application will be rejected and the applicant will be informed by email by NIAS.

Second round: evaluation by external reviewers
Applications that meet all the formal requirements are sent to two selected external referees taken either from the panel of referees compiled by NIAS for the selection procedure, and/or from the three referees put forward by the applicant. The NIAS panel of referees is broad to ensure that a wide variety of expertises and backgrounds are represented.

Third round: evaluation by Academic Advisory Board
The three Theme Group applications with the highest scores from the referees’ evaluations are presented to the NIAS Academic Advisory Board (AAB), which has the task of advising the NIAS directorate on the selection procedure and rank applicants, thereby taking into account the internal balance of the proposed year group, in terms of discipline, gender, phase in career, and regional diversity.

Fourth round: final selection by the director of NIAS
On the basis of the advice of the AAB and the additional criteria of available office space, accommodation and resources, the NIAS directorate makes decisions about the final allocation of fellowships.

The Director of NIAS informs the Theme group coordinator in writing of his decision no later than 15 December in the year that the application was submitted i.e. Theme groups who have been selected, Theme groups who have not been selected and Theme groups who have been placed on the reserve list.

Applicants are sent a Preliminary Offer by email. If the applicant accepts the offer, all the terms will be incorporated into the official Fellowship Agreement, a contract which is sent to applicants to sign before the fellowship. If the two parties have not come to mutual agreement by the 15th of April of the year following selection, the offer expires. If that is the case, the Director of NIAS will select a suitable new candidate from the reserve list.

The full selection process takes up to 12 months.

Time path

Call for NIAS theme-group proposals for the academic year 2025/26:

  • Call open: 15 January
  • Call closes:  12.00 (noon) CET, 18 March 2024
  • If the application does not meet the formal requirements the application will be rejected and the applicant will be informed by email before 15 May 2024
  • Assessment of proposals by external reviewers: May – October 2024
  • The Director of NIAS informs all candidates in writing of his decision no later than 15 December 2024

Previous NIAS Theme Groups include:

Past & present Fellows