Research School for Economic and Social History

PhD Training Programme – Basic Training

The Basic Training consists of the three seminars below, all scheduled in the course of the first year. The Basic Training will be formally closed by an Individual Assessment and entitles the PhD student to the N.W. Posthumus diploma if the PhD student has met the following requirements:

  • The student submitted a study plan and brought it up to date before the individual assessment
  • The student participated actively in the three seminars of the Basic Training (see below)
  • The student has written and presented the required papers for these seminars
  • The student was present at the Individual Assessment and supplied the required information

PhDs who have completed the Basic Training usually continue their training at the N.W. Posthumus Institute through the Advanced Training.

Seminar 1: “My project in a Nutshell”

Through this one- or two-days seminar, the new cohort PhD students get to know each other and their projects . The seminar may also be attended by Research Master students who are close to writing a PhD proposal or application of funds. The seminar provides a forum to present initial ideas and get feedback from both other starting researchers and two Posthumus fellows.

Prior to the meeting every participant writes a short research note (in English) about the historiographical background and the substance of the project: “My project in a Nutshell”, in order to position the project in the academic debate. Participants will read and discuss each other’s notes.

Key info Seminar 1 (November/December 1st year, location tba)

  • Deadline research note – will be communicated via e-mail
  • Preparation – c. 1 week
  • Attendance – 2 days
  • ECTS – 2 (1 ECTS = 28 hours)

Seminar 2: “Work in Progress”

At this seminar, the student will present a minor paper, providing a first substantial discussion of the PhD project. In the paper (in English), the student positions the research project in the relevant debates, formulates the research questions and discusses the methodologies and techniques (10-15 pages A4). Every participant will also be a designated discussant of the minor paper of another PhD student, but all students are expected to read the minor papers of all other participants in their group and take part in the general discussion. A senior researcher, usually one of the fellows of the N.W. Posthumus Institute (but optionally also external experts) will give a second comment on the minor paper.

During this seminar, the Education Programme Director of the N.W. Posthumus Institute or a substitute will be present.

Key info Seminar 2 (Spring 1st year, location tba)

  • Deadline minor paper – will be communicated via e-mail
  • Preparation – c. 1 week
  • Attendance – 2 days
  • ECTS – 6 (4 for the paper, 2 for attendance)

Seminar 3: Research Design Course (RDC)

At the RDC, each student will present a major paper, written in English, consisting of 20-25 pages. The paper should include a substantial introduction to the project, and a dissertation plan and provide an advanced discussion on the PhD project. It will evaluate the major choices made structuring the research and the final thesis and justifies these choices in the light of good academic practice. The major paper thus should give a well-founded formation of the research question and sub-questions, the expected answers, the methods to be used, the steps to be taken doing research, the timing, the required information, and the (provisional) structure (chapters) of the thesis. The RDC invites to reflect upon issues discussed in the theory of science literature, including the scientific ambitions, the perspectives adopted and rejected, and problems combining theory and empirical investigation. It is expected that these reflections after the RDC will result in a draft version of the first chapter of the dissertation.

The major papers are presented by their authors and discussed by participants and invited senior researchers. During the seminar, PhD students will present their major paper, but will also be discussant of the paper of another participant and chair a session. The participants read all the papers of their group and prepare the general discussion of each paper, in which representatives of an international team of well-qualified expert historians will participate and comment.

Although part of the N.W. Posthumus Institute PhD Training Programme and being coordinated in the Netherlands by the Education Programme Director of the NWP, the RDC, organised in close cooperation with partners from the ESTER network, is open to PhD students from all over Europe. However, the  enrolment is limited and based on selection through a competitive application process. Participants will be selected on the progress of their research projects and the quality of their proposals.

Participation in the RDC may be substituted for participation in another activity, such as a summer school. However, PhD students who prefer to participate in another course, should contact the Education Programme Director in advance.

Key info Seminar 3 (Fall 2nd year, exact dates and location tba)

  • Deadline research note – will be communicated via e-mail
  • Preparation – c. 1.5 weeks
  • Attendance – 3-5 days
  • ECTS – 8 (5 for paper, 3 for attendance)

Individual Assessment

The Basic Training ends with an individual assessment. During this meeting of approximately one hour, two fellows of the N.W. Posthumus Institute will assess, together with the PhD student and her/his supervisor, the first year of the PhD project and the expectations concerning the remainder of the project. The major aim is to assess whether the PhD project is likely to be completed in time. Problems and possible solutions can also be discussed. If the fellows conclude after the assessment that the PhD student will in all likelihood finish the Posthumus training with a dissertation, then the student will qualify for the Posthumus diploma, provided she/he has fulfilled all the other requirements of the Basic Training. If the fellows conclude that the PhD student is unlikely to complete her/his project, the PhD student can be asked to write an additional paper in which remaining questions must be answered. A last option that can be decided upon during the individual assessment, is the consultation of the Examination Committee regarding ending the membership of the N.W. Posthumus Institute and the advice to the supervisor that there are serious doubts about the successful completion of the project.

The PhD student submits a report beforehand in which they include the previous comments they received, as well as a reflection on how they will deal with this feedback.

Key info Individual Assessment (Spring 2nd year, exact dates and locations tba)

  • Deadline information – will be communicated via e-mail
  • Preparation – c. 3 days
  • ECTS – 1

How to apply

To apply for the forthcoming Posthumus PhD Training Programme Cohort, please click the button below and fill out the form. Deadline for submission is 15 October of each year.