What are you looking for?


  • For international teams
  • Three 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

Each year, NIAS awards up to ten fellows with a NIAS Theme Group Fellowship. A NIAS 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. The call for pre-proposals is open from 15 November - 15 December.

NIAS Theme Groups are by application or may be initiated by the Director.

A NIAS Theme Group Fellowship consists of one semester to work on a project proposal of the coordinator’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 from 15-17hrs. We urgently advise fellows to make arrangements with their university and family 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

A theme group is applied for by the theme-group coordinator, who can be affiliated to a Dutch university/research institute, or to a university/research institute from abroad. 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 pre-proposal should be no more than two pages, excluding a C.V. of the theme-group coordinator;
  • If invited by the NIAS Directorate to submit a full project proposal, the coordinator and all theme group members should individually apply with their individual 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.

Selection procedure

The selection procedure for a NIAS theme group consists of three rounds.

First round: pre-proposal

For the initial phase of the selection procedure there is no specific form: the theme group coordinator can submit a C.V. and short pre-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
  • Expected activities and, if applicable, the expected joint end product
  • A list of the preferred theme group members (max. 5)
  • Contact details of the main applicant


This document, together with a C.V. of the theme-group coordinator, should be sent by e-mail to: selection@nias.knaw.nl, citing NIAS Theme Group application, before 12 noon, 15 December 2022.

The Academic Advisory Board (AAB) evaluates the pre-proposals on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Originality and quality of the project
  • Academic and societal relevance of the research project
  • Interdisciplinary character of the pre-proposal and evidence of the benefit of group collaboration
  • The added value of the NIAS interdisciplinary environment for the research project
  • Feasibility of the planned activities within one semester of group collaboration
  • The coordinator’s leadership qualities and added value to collaborate with the proposed theme group members


Based on the evaluations of the AAB, the theme-group coordinator may be invited to send in a more elaborate (full) proposal.


Second round: full proposal

The full proposal is an expanded 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, 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 (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 following criteria:

  • Originality and quality of the project
  • Academic and societal relevance of the research project
  • Methodology
  • The interdisciplinary character of the proposals, and evidence of the benefit of group collaboration
  • The contribution of group members proposals to the theme group project
  • The added value of the NIAS interdisciplinary environment for the research project
  • Feasibility of the planned activities within one semester of group collaboration


Third round: final selection by the director of NIAS

Based on the reviewers’ and the Academic Advisory Board’s assessments the Director of NIAS decides which applicant will be invited for a NIAS Theme Group.

The Director of NIAS decides the final selection of theme-groups and the composition of the year group on the basis of the following additional criteria:

  • Diversity of disciplines
  • Balance of Dutch and International scholars
  • Gender balance
  • Balance between early-, mid- and late-career scholars
  • Available office space and, if eligible, accommodation


The Director of NIAS informs the applicants in writing of his decision no later than 15 December following the year that the full application was submitted i.e. theme-group applicants who have been selected, and who have not been selected.

Applicants are sent a Preliminary Offer by email. If the applicant accepts the offer, all the terms will be incorporated into the official Fellows 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 31 March of the year following selection, the offer expires.

The full selection process takes 12 months.

Time path

Call for NIAS theme-group proposals for the academic year 2024/25:

  • Call opens for pre-proposals: 15 November 2022
  • Call closes for pre-proposals: 15 December 2022
  • Assessment of pre-proposals by AAB: 16 December 2022 – 15 January 2023
  • Applicants are invited to send in a full proposal: 15 January – 25 January 2023
  • Call closes for full proposals: 12 noon, 15 March 2023
  • 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 2023
  • Assessment of full proposals by external reviewers: May – October 2023
  • The Director of NIAS informs all candidates in writing of his decision no later than 15 December 2023

Previous NIAS Theme Groups include: