Call for PhD Position “African History (Late 15th – Early 19th Century)”

The Department of History invites applications for a PhD position in “African History (Late 15th – Early 19th Century)”. The successful candidate will be a member of the research group lead by Prof Roberto Zaugg, which includes scholars working on different topics and geographical areas. The Department of History of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, is one of the biggest historical institutes in continental Europe. It is home to about 150 scholars who teach and do research as well as to almost 2000 students (BA, MA, PhD).

Duties and Responsibilities

  • The successful candidate will develop a PhD project and write a doctoral thesis on a topic related to the history of sub-Saharan Africa between the late 15th and the early 19th centuries. Projects focusing on entanglements between African regions and the wider world are particularly welcome. The main focus of the research group lead by Prof Roberto Zaugg is West and West-Central Africa; however, also proposals related to other African regions will be considered.
  • The successful candidate will be required to teach courses for undergraduate students (in English or German) and to take part in the academic activities of the Department of History.
  • She/he will be expected to present the results of her/his research at conferences and to write articles for scholarly journals.
  • She/he will be required to take up residence in Switzerland.


  • The candidates are expected to have very good knowledge of English. Previous knowledge of German is not a necessary requirement. However, the successful candidate will be expected to take German courses during her/his contract.
  • Additional language skills in both European and African languages are clearly a plus.
  • The candidates are expected to have previous experience in working with manuscript sources.
  • The candidates are expected to hold an outstanding MA degree (or equivalent) in History.
  • Candidates who have attended high school in an Africa country or have earned their BA and/or MA at an African university are explicitly encouraged to apply for this position.
  • The University of Zurich is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from both female and male candidates.
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  • The appointment is offered for two years in the first instance, with extension up to a total of six years pending good performance. The salary is fixed according to the guidelines of the Canton Zurich. Seite 1/2
  • In addition to the salary, she/he will be entitled to apply for university grants in order to do research in foreign archives and to attend international conferences.
  • She/he will have an equipped workspace at the University of Zurich.

Start of employment: 1 November 2019 or upon agreement

Application procedures

Please, submit the following documents (as PDF-files) by 15 September 2019:

  • a letter of motivation: please explain what makes you a suitable candidate for this position and why you are interested in it;
  • a detailed CV (with portrait picture); please include the names and e-mail addresses of two possible referees whom the University of Zurich may contact;
  • a proposal for the PhD project you wish to develop at the University of Zurich; this proposal should be structured as follows: abstract (max. 200 words), description of the project defining the topic and the goals of your research (max. 800 words), sources which will be analysed (max. 250 words), a short bibliography mentioning the most relevant publications related to your research topic (max. 300 words).
  • a certificate of your MA (or equivalent);
  • a transcript of records stating the courses you have attended during your university studies (BA and MA);
  • your MA thesis, if possible with examiners’ report;
  • if available: any publications.
  • The letter of motivation, the CV and the proposal for the PhD project should be written in English.
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Apply to: Mrs Edith Darnay, Department of History, University of Zurich,

Further information, contact Prof. Dr. Roberto Zaugg,

Further information on Prof Roberto Zaugg and his research activities: and

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