The thematic and chronological focus of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Basel University covers the political, social, and intellectual history of the late Ottoman and post-Ottoman lands since the 19th century as well as political and social developments in contemporary Middle East and Middle Eastern diasporas. Emphasis is given to the former core regions of the Ottoman Empire, composed of south-eastern Europe, Anatolia, Cyprus, South Caucasus, Levant, Mesopotamia, the Arab Peninsula, and Egypt.

The PhD programme in Near and Middle Eastern Studies is part of the Graduate School of Social Sciences (G3S) at the Department of the Social Sciences. As part of their curricula PhD students are required to take PhD courses from the G3S curriculum amounting to 18 credit points. The doctoral students of the department are also members of the Inter-University Doctoral Cooperation in Near and Middle Eastern Studies (MUBIT) between the Universities of Basel and Zurich.

An overview of ongoing PhD projects and completed PhD theses can be viewed on our research website.

To be admitted to a PhD degree, candidates are required to fulfill the general criteria for admission set for doctoral studies at the University of Basel and Near and Middle Eastern Studies. As part of the requirements of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, the candidate should have received an undergraduate and graduate degree (Bachelor's and Master's degree) in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Turkish and Ottoman Studies, Arab Studies, or other fields of humanities and social sciences (History, Political Science, Sociology, etc.), and have a proficient and accredited knowledge of one of the languages of their area of research, i.e. Arabic or Turkish, as well as command of the major languages of the relevant scholarship. Dissertations are written in English or in German.

Please note the following two important items before considering an application:

  •  Applicants should be aware that they must finance their own doctoral studies, as stipends for doctoral study are extremely limited.
  •  Additionally, applications will only be reviewed if there are professors in the program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies with the ability to take on new advisees. Applications at other times will not be reviewed.

If these criteria are met, candidates can apply directly by sending the following documents to Alexander Balistreri, PhD Coordinator:

- Letter of motivation (max. 2 pages) explaining the choice of supervisor and the reasons for pursuing a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Basel

- Curriculum Vitae, outlining the candidate’s past academic achievements, research and relevant experience

- An abstract (300-500 words) and detailed research proposal (max. 3000 words including bibliography)

The candidates may be asked to provide further documentary evidence.

A candidate can only be admitted to the PhD programme in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, if they are accepted by both Near and Middle Eastern Studies and the University.

Therefore, all applications are subject to a two-part process: if the candidate is accepted for supervision by Near and Middle Eastern Studies, their application documents will be sent to the University’s Students’ Secretariat and the Office of the Dean of Research in the Faculty of Philosophy and History (to which the Department of Social Sciences belongs) for a second evaluation, before a final decision is made.

Near and Middle Eastern Studies accepts applications throughout the year. However, it is advisable to send the required documents by the end of March at the latest, for the programmes beginning in the autumn term, and end of October for the spring term.

Please also see the following link for further information on admission and studying at Basel University: Application & Admission.

Grants for PhD students in Switzerland are subject to very competitive application requirements. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) sponsors PhD students with (at present) 3-years research fellowships. In order to successfully apply for SNSF grants, it is important that the dissertation project fits into the general research agenda of the desired supervisor, who will apply for the research project on behalf of the PhD candidate. For an overview of professors and their research interests see our website.
Another option is to apply for funding in the form of the “Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars (SERI)”. For a list of countries from which potential PhD students can apply, please check list 1 or list 2.

Foreign candidates should also check available PhD grants from the institutions of their home country.

It is important that the candidates inform themselves of the visa and residence regulations of Switzerland and the Canton of Basel before their planned study in Switzerland.