External Funding Opportunities

In order to realize its research agenda and meet its research goals the Leiden Institute for History cannot do without funding provided by agencies in the field of the humanities. The Institute therefore encourages its members to regularly submit research proposals to these organizations. In the past years many Leiden historians have been successful in gaining financial means to execute their projects and programmes. Although there are many funding agencies for the humanities in operation two organizations stand out: NWO and the European Union/ERC.


The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is one of the 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 many 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 the careers of individual researchers. Other subsidies facilitate (international) cooperation and/or finance the use of large-scale facilities. 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/or 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 pre-selected by the deans of the faculties involved. 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/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 current Horizon 2020 Programme, which will run until 2020, is subdivided into several programmes.

Horizon 2020
For historians a highly relevant section of Horizon 2020 is Excellent Science. This programme includes European Research Council (ERC) starting, consolidator en advanced grants for researchers with an excellent scientific profile and Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions for young researchers aiming to support their career development and mobility. Another important section of Horizon 2020 is Societal Challenges. Within this programme seven research areas are identified. Two of them pertain to the historical sciences: Europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies, and Secure societies – Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens. Projects under the Societal Challenges umbrella are targeted at international collaboration and innovative and multidisciplinary research goals. More information

Necessary contacts

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 History, Dr. P.J.J. Meel, 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 encouraged 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.

Projects that include parts connected to data storage and the setting up of databases are requested to get in touch with Dr. R.W.N. Goedemans in time. Technical support from the Faculty of Humanities can only be called in prior to the finalization of the proposal.

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 History A.K. Groeninx van Zoelen is the LURIS’ representative.

Last Modified: 10-03-2014