Research School for Economic and Social History

ESTER RDC 2023 (University of Vienna, 25-27 September 2023) – Call for abstracts – deadline 2 June 2023

The N.W. Posthumus Institute participates in the European graduate School for Training in Economic and social historical Research (ESTER), a European platform for postgraduate teaching, involving over 60 universities throughout Europe and offering high-level research training for PhD candidates in an international context. Part of the ESTER programme is its annual Research Design Course (RDC) for economic and social historians. For 2023, this RDC will take place in Vienna, Austria.

Key info

Dates and location 25–27 September 2023, Vienna (Austria)
Hosting institution University of Vienna
Organisers Dr Annemarie Steidl, Dr Kirsten Wandschneider (both University of Vienna, Department of Economic and Social History), Dr Rogier van Kooten, René van Weeren BA (both N.W. Posthumus Institute)
Sponsors Doctoral School of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna


The Research Design Course (RDC) is a format promoted by ESTER since the late 1990s. The RDC assists candidates in setting up a high quality and well-designed plan for their dissertation under the guidance of a team of leading senior researchers whose task it is to provide comments and feedback.

Therefore, you will be asked to write a paper of about 25 pages in which you discuss the design of your research. In this paper, you will also prepare a detailed work plan for the dissertation. Prior to the workshop, the N.W. Posthumus Institute will circulate all papers, so the participants can prepare them in advance. During the RDC, you will give a brief presentation of your own paper and will receive feedback from junior and senior scholars in the field. You will also act as reporter, chair, and peer commentator for papers of other PhD participants.


The RDC course is aimed at offering PhD candidates better awareness of research choices that need to can be made by assisting them to:

  • sharpen and refine their research questions;
  • strengthen the focus of their research;increase the consistency of their overall dissertation plan;
  • make explicit the various theoretical and methodological choices that have to be made in the course of the project;
  • improve the composition of the dissertation;
  • learn how to provide feedback to peers.

The overall goal of this methodological reflection is to investigate the scientific procedures that historians use to reach scientific explanations and to combine all analytical elements into a synthetic and coherent historical account.On the last day of the RDC, each participant will be awarded with a certificate.


Candidates participating in the RDC should meet the following minimum requirements:

  • be a PhD candidate in economic and social history (regardless of their research subject)
  • (at the very least) be finishing the first year of their dissertation project, methodology and research design should not be fully crystallised
  • working on their research for at least six months, when they start writing their paper
  • able to have mastered English at a sufficient level

How to apply

Please note that only up to a maximum of 50 participants can be accepted to the Research Design Course. Selection will be based upon a call for applications, available as pdf via this link.

PhD candidates can apply until the deadline via our online registration form, which should also include an abstract between 400-800 words of their dissertation project. Based on this short summary, the organisation will make a first selection. Once the candidates have been accepted, they will be asked to write their research paper conform guidelines that will be provided. Final admission depends upon the following criteria:

  1. the abstract is received by the deadline, being 2 June 2023
  2. the abstract is of sufficient academic quality
  3. the level of the English used in the abstract is sufficient

Time path


April 2023 Call for applications open
2 June 2023 Deadline application
1 July 2023 Decision on application, selection of participants
1 September 2023 Deadline paper submission
4 September 2023 Papers available online for participants
25-27 September 2023 RDC

Practical issues


  • There are no registration costs.
  • For Posthumus-students, reimbursement of costs may apply; you will be informed about this later on.

Accommodation, catering, and travels

  • Accommodation should be arranged by yourself; the organisation may provide a list of suggestions concerning accommodations in Vienna.
  • Most of the catering will be pre-arranged, this will not be the case on Tuesday evening. Therefore, the candidates should take into account that they will have to make their own dinner arrangements.
  • The participants are also required to organise their own travel arrangements to and from Vienna.
  • Only in exceptional cases, candidates may apply for a travel subsidy; this only applies to candidates who have no options for such funding at all.


For inquiries concerning this course, please contact us by e-mail.