Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism

Research, Reviews, Conferences



The University is seeking 2 Ph. D. candidates in the field of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents

The intention is that one of the two candidates will do research on a relevant topic within the historical period from the Renaissance to the 18th century, and the other within the period from the 18th century to the present. Candidates are invited to submit a research proposal that contains at least the following:

Title of the research project.

Brief description of the research question (a few lines).

A longer description of the research project, including attention to methodology and the nature/availability of the relevant source material (3 to 4 pages, line spacing 1 ½).

Explanation of academic relevance and importance of the research.


A planning, subdivided in periods of six months.

Summary of additional material costs.

The research proposal must be accompanied by a cover letter and a C.V.

A list of possible research topics is available on request from This list is intended to give an impression of the kind of research that could be considered, and an indication of some clear research gaps.


A Master degree in a discipline of the humanities, preferably with a historical focus;

Sufficient demonstrable familiarity with the research area on which the GHF Center focuses, and the relevant subdomain;

Good command of at least English and other languages relevant to the research project.

Further information

For further information please contact Prof. Dr. W.J. Hanegraaff, telephone +31 20 525 3570 or +31 20 423 6218; e-mail


History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents

The Center of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents

(GHF, ) was founded in 1999 and plays a leading international role in the field. The Center is part of the Department of Art, Religion, and Cultural Sciences (KRC) and work within the context of the Program Team Religious Studies.

The staff members of GHF provide a series of four modules (Hermetica I, II, III, IV) in the Bachelor Religious Studies, and a specialization program in “Western Esotericism” in the context of the One-Year Master and the Two-Year Research Master Religious Studies.

GHF consists of three permanent staff members (one professor and two assistant professors) and two PhD students. The Center focuses on historical research into a complex of movements in the border area between religion, philosophy, and science, today often summarized under the umbrella term “Western esotericism”.

These include movements such as hermetism and gnostic religion in late antiquity; traditional sciences like astrology, alchemy, and magia naturalis; the revival of platonism and related currents during the Renaissance in the context of prisca theologia, philosophia perennis, and philosophia occulta; early modern currents such as paracelsianism, Christian theosophy, rosicrucianism, freemasonry, and illuminism; nineteenth-century movements such as spiritualism, occultism, and traditionalism; and related currents including the contemporary New Age. For a representative sample of the discipline, see the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (ed. WJ Hanegraaff et al.), Brill: Leiden / Boston 2005. 


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