Assistant professor in the History of Western Esotericism in the Middle Ages – UvA

Job description

The Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies of the Faculty of Humanities is looking for an Assistant professor (UD) in the History of Western Esotericism in Middle Ages.

The successful candidate for the position is expected to be an active and ambitious researcher and will have a good record of high quality academic publications focused on one or more currents in this domain, and solid general knowledge of the domain as a whole. As a specialist in the study of Western Esotericism for the indicated period, the candidate will be able to teach about its relevant aspects both on the undergraduate and graduate levels. S/he will also be conversant with current research and debates in the field of Western esotericism, as represented by publications in relevant journals and book series. Demonstrated ability to apply for and obtain research funding will be considered a plus.

S/he will be expected to initiate personal research projects in any part of the history of esoteric currents that goes from the end of the Roman Empire up to the end of the 15th century. Relevant areas of research notably include the transmission of esoteric ideas from Greek to Arabic and Hebrew in Islamicate culture, from Arabic to Latin in Western Christianity, and within the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Christianity. Attention to Jewish kabbalah, Islamic Sufism and mysticism, and the interfaces between religion, philosophy, and the natural sciences are also considered relevant.

The successful candidate may be asked to participate in developing and teaching in adjacent programs, e.g., Ancient and/or Medieval History, Art History, Philosophy. Teaching duties also include supervising theses and contributing to renewal and improvement of the curriculum. Within the department and the capacity groups, programs are explicitly tailored to facilitate the reinforcement of the research interests of the staff and curriculum development.

You will be supervised closely during the first year of your appointment. Additional didactic training is also part of the appointment. Based on the candidate’s educational portfolio, previously acquired competences will be taken into consideration. The introductory programme includes earning the Dutch University Teaching Qualification (UTQ/BKO).


  • Conducting independent research in the broad area of history of Western Esotericism, resulting in academic publications in peer-reviewed international journals and/or books;
  • actively pursuing external funding for research, notably funding from research councils, national as well as international;
  • actively contributing to and developing national and international research networks and other forms of cooperation;
  • actively contributing to the research activities of the Centre and the Amsterdam School for Historical Studies (ASH);
  • developing, coordinating and delivering teaching in Dutch (the prevailing language of instruction in the BA) and English, in the BA and MA programs;
  • supervising BA and MA theses and tutoring students; co-supervising PhD theses;
  • actively contributing to the development and improvement of the broader teaching programmes in the Department;
  • taking part in committees and working groups, and carrying out departmental administrative tasks as directed.


The candidate holds a PhD in a relevant field, and is a specialist in the study of Western Esotericism in the medieval period.

The new Assistant professor has relevant university teaching experience, provides inspiring teaching, and will be expected to develop and teach courses in both the minor and the MA trajectory, both in lecture and in seminar settings.

Candidates should fit the following profile:

  • PhD (or equivalent) in a discipline of the Humanities;
  • specialization in, or relevant to, one or more areas of historical research belonging to the domain of “Western esotericism” in the Middle Ages, having resulted in academic publications of high qualit;
  • active interest in interdisciplinary research and teamwork in the context of the humanities and the social sciences.
  • an international research network in the research area concerned;
  • research output commensurate with the level of the position;
  • broad teaching skills and experience in different forms and levels of university teaching, at BA and MA level; good didactic qualities
  • the Dutch University Teaching Qualification (UTQ/BKO), or willingness to acquire this within the first two years; Acquiring the BKO is a prerequisite for a permanent employment contract;
  • experience of digital and audiovisual teaching facilities; affinity with ICT in university teaching;
  • a good team worker and versatile at all levels, capable of multidisciplinary co-operation;
  • excellent organizational experience and skills;
  • teaching and admin duties require excellent command of English as well as Dutch; appointments are subject to the candidate’s proficiency in both, or their undertaking to acquire this proficiency as speedily as possible. Non-native Dutch speakers must achieve an active and passive command of Dutch within two years. Passing the state examination for Dutch as a Second Language (NT2), program II, is a prerequisite for a permanent employment contract;
  • demonstrable knowledge of relevant languages (such as Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, and/or Byzantine Greek);
  • proficiency in relevant other languages as indicated above;
  • willingness and ability to apply for external grants. Previous experience in this domain will be considered as a bonus.

As Dutch is the language of instruction in most BA-level courses, candidates are expected to acquire sufficient command of the Dutch language during the first two years of the appointment.

Conditions of employment

Our offer

The contract is initially temporary for a period of two years. Positive assessment and evaluation can be expected to lead to a permanent contract. The contract will commence preferably between 1 December 2020 and 1 January 2021.

The UFO profile for this position is, dependent on relevant experience, Universitair docent 2 (scale 11) or Universitair docent 1 (scale 12).

The gross monthly salary will range from €3,746 (start scale 11) to €5,826 (end scale 12), based on a full-time employment contract of 38 hours a week.

The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.


University of Amsterdam

With over 6,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Humanities – Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in the field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the Faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

The Faculty of Humanities offers assistant professors the opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers at research institutes that – partly as a result of their interdisciplinary approach – are world-renowned. Moreover, you will be teaching in a dynamic context in which new teaching methods are being developed.

The candidate’s research will be part of the Amsterdam School for Historical Studies (ASH). ASH is one of the five research schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. It represents and fosters the study of the human past from Antiquity to the present day. It brings together more than 200 academics from Amsterdam’s Faculty of Humanities, who participate in ca. 25 research groups. ASH does not limit itself to a particular period, discipline or method, but integrates a variety of (inter)disciplinary perspectives, including history, history of art, literature and religious studies. It encourages collaborations between scholars along thematic lines (e.g. Religion, the City, Conflict), geographical focus (e.g., Mediterranean History, American Studies, Modern Germany) and in terms of period (e.g., Antiquity, the Middle Ages, Early Modern and Modern History).

The Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents is placed in the ASH and is a pioneering institution for research and teaching in the academic study of Western Esotericism. Under this label, it focuses in particular on the history of Renaissance Platonism and Hermetism, prisca theologia and occulta philosophia in the early modern period and their later developments; alchemical, magical, astrological, Paracelsian and Rosicrucian currents; Jewish and Christian kabbalah; Christian theosophy and Illuminism; and various occultist and related developments during the 19th and 20th centuries, including the New Age movement. The Centre has now decided to broaden its scope of research and teaching by creating two new positions, one focusing on Late Antiquity and the other on the Middle Ages.

Within the Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies (abbreviated GER), lecturers of the HHP capacity group teach courses in the Bachelor program in Religious Studies, offer a minor in Western esotericism, and they participate in the MA program ‘Spirituality and Religion’and the elective package ‘Western Esotericism and Spirituality’. The complete programs can be found Please check our course catalogue for the complete programs.

Additional information

For further information, please contact:

  • Prof. Remieg Aerts, Chair of the Department of History, European Studies, and Religious Studies
  • dr Marco Pasi, associate professor and chair of the HHP capacity group

Would you like to learn more about working at the University of Amsterdam? Visit our website.

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