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PhD candidate or Postdoctoral researcher The Tocharian Trek

Vacancy number
19-096 6101
Job type
Academic staff, PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
4 March 2019
Closing date
15 March 2019 Vacancy closed

The Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), is looking for a

PhD candidate or postdoctoral researcher (1.0 FTE)

The Tocharian Trek: A linguistic reconstruction of the migration of the Tocharians from Europe to China

Project description
The Tocharian Trek is a linguistic test of the hypothesis that early speakers of Tocharian moved from the Indo-European homeland first to southern Siberia, where they can be identified with the Afanasievo Culture, and then south into the Tarim Basin in Northwest China. The prehistory of Tocharian is reconstructed on the basis of its position in the Indo-European family tree and contacts with Uralic, Turkic and Middle Indic. The project is led by PI Dr Michaël Peyrot and funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council. Contacts of Tocharian with Iranian are the topic of the NWO-funded sister project “Tracking the Tocharians” (http://www.nwo.nl/en/research-and-results/research-projects/i/53/26753.html).

Vacant position: Linguistic contacts between Tocharian and Uralic
Tocharian shows many typological parallels with Uralic, which may be due to language contact. In this subproject, typological parallels between Tocharian and Uralic, especially Proto-Uralic and Proto-Samoyedic, are to be investigated. Lexical evidence for language contact is to be included as far as possible.

This position is open to applications at PhD (4 years, 38 hours per week) as well as at Postdoc level (3 years, 38 hours per week) and should start July 2019.

Key responsibilities

  • Writing a PhD thesis under the daily supervision of Dr Michaël Peyrot (PhD candidates only);
  • Discussing and sharing (unpublished) results with the other team members;
  • Submitting research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals;
  • Presenting papers at (international) conferences.

Selection criteria

  • An MA (for PhD candidates) or PhD degree (for postdocs) in Indo-European or Uralic linguistics;
  • Demonstrable affinity with historical linguistics and linguistic reconstruction, and experience in either Tocharian or Uralic (preferably Samoyedic), or both;
  • A scientific focus and creative approach, excellent analytical skills, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • Good writing skills;
  • Proficiency in English.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics and area studies covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 995, the faculty provides 27 master’s and 25 bachelor’s programmes for over 7,000 students based at locations in Leiden’s historic city centre and in modern buildings in The Hague. For more information: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/humanities.

The Faculty has seven Institutes, among which the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (http://www.lucl.nl/). Leiden University has a longstanding tradition in research in the world’s languages and features unique linguistic expertise. LUCL unites historical linguistics with other linguistic subdisciplines such as descriptive linguistics, sociolinguistics and general linguistics in its research profile area “Language Diversity in the World”.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Linguistics . In addition to thorough research training, our graduate school offers a variety of courses aimed at training of professional and personal skills. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the national research school (LOT).

Terms and conditions

The employment of PhD candidates will be for a period of four years (first a contract of 18 months with an extension of 30 months after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility) and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Appointment will be under the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is set on €2,325 in the first year up to €2,972 gross per month in year four, based on fulltime employment (pay scale P).

The employment of postdocs will be for a period of three years (first a contract of 12 months, with an extension of 24 months after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility). Appointment will be under the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. Depending on education and work experience, the salary range is from €2,709 to €4,978 gross per month (pay scale 10 or 11), based on a full-time appointment. Please be aware that due to the project budget the employment period and/or FTE may be adjusted depending on your salary scale.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


For further information on these subprojects please contact Dr Michaël Peyrot, m.peyrot@hum.leidenuniv.nl, or on practical matters Maarit van Gammeren, m.s.k.van.gammeren@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Please submit online your application no later than 15 March 2019 via the blue button in our application system. Selected candidates will be invited for an interview on 25 and 26 March 2019. You are kindly requested to be available then.

Applicants are kindly requested to submit the following documents electronically (in Dutch or English):

  • A letter stating your motivation for the position you apply for, explaining how your expertise is relevant to carrying out the research;
  • CV;
  • A short research proposal (max. 1000 words) for one of the positions mentioned above, in which you describe how you would plan the project, which research questions you would formulate, which sources you would use, which matters you find in need of special attention, how you would tackle any existing deficiencies in your knowledge, etc.;
  • References: the names and contact details (email addresses) of two persons whom we may contact for further information. One of these should be your MA thesis supervisor (for PhD candidates) or your PhD supervisor (for postdocs);
  • Copies of your academic transcripts (for PhD candidates);
  • A copy of your MA thesis (for PhD candidates) or PhD dissertation (for postdocs), and any other publication in English that is representative for your research qualities.

Please submit these documents in two files:
I – containing documents 1 to 5 (PDF or Word file), using your last name followed by underscore 1 as document name (e.g. JANSEN_1.pdf).
II – containing document 6 (PDF or Word file), using your last name followed by underscore 2 as document name (e.g. JANSEN_2.pdf).

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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