The MA History programme is concluded by a 30 EC MA-thesis. The thesis is based on original research in primary sources and will be ca. 23.000 words in size (excluding footnotes and bibliography).
Students are guided in writing their thesis by thesis supervisors.
Students are expected to approach themselves a member of staff with a request to act as supervisor of their MA Thesis. In order to do so, the student draws up a concise research proposal for the thesis during the second half of the first semester. All students are strongly advised to approach a member of staff sooner rather than later.
An overview of all members of staff and their fields of expertise is found in the list of staff & research themes.
In some instances the approached member of staff will refer the student to a colleague with more expertise in the particular proposed subject. In exceptional cases a scholar from outside the History Department will be invited to (co-)supervise the thesis. If the member of staff agrees on supervision, the student will have to set up the individual Graduation Plan.
The Graduation Plan informs the Board of Examiners and the coordinator of studies about:
Time schedule for thesis and graduation (incl. deadline thesis)
Supervisor and topic
Individual study plan
The Graduation plan is compulsory. It may be submitted by means of a digital form.
When your plan is adjusted (deadline/supervisor), you will need to submit a new Graduation Plan.
Six weeks before the planned date of graduation students have to apply for entry to the final examination and obtain his or her Master grades list at the secretary’s office in the Huizinga Building. This can be done by following the several stages of the Graduation Procedure.
The MA History is rounded off with an oral examination of approximately 45 minutes, during a public ceremony, in which students have to defend their MA thesis and be able to discuss additional scholarly literature.
General learning objectives
The student has acquired:
- The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
- The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
- The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
- The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
- The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
- The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
- The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
- The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
- The ability to integrate knowledge and handle complexity, and formulate judgments with incomplete or limited information, including the ability to reflect on social and ethical responsibilities linked to the application of knowledge and judgments;
- The ability to reflect on one’s own professional integrity and moral conduct;
- The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;
- Understanding of the relevance for society of the historical discipline in general and the specialisation in particular.
Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation
- Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following:
in the specialisation Ancient History: unification processes in the Graeco-Roman World, 400 BC – 400 AD; insight into the recent large-scale debates in the field with respect to both the history of mentality and socio-economic history;
in the specialisation Colonial and Global History: how global (political, socio-economic, and cultural) connections interact with regional processes of identity and state formation; hence insight in cross-cultural processes (including the infrastructure of shipping and other modes of communication) that affect regions across the world such as imperialism, colonisation, islamisation, modernisation and globalization (in particular during the period 1200-1940);
in the subspecialisation Maritime History also: the development of maritime history from the 16th century onwards; insight into recent issues in the field;
in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: broader processes of political, social and cultural identity formation between about 1000-1800; awareness of problems of periodization and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field;
in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the manner in which migrations (of people, goods and ideas) between and within states have led to shifts (in cohesion, ethnic composition, policies, imaging, culture, and power relations) in the period 1600-2000, with a focus on (urban) networks (within and across borders);
in the subspecialisation Economic History also: the origin and outcomes of the Great Divergence, developments in political economy since ca 1600, increasing global interdependence throughout the centuries, the development of global governance in the twentieth century, as well as the most important debates in recent Economic History;
in the specialisation Political Culture and National Identities: political practices, symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1800;
in the subspecialisation Political Debate also: political debates and debating styles in the Netherlands and abroad, both from a historical and a current perspective;
in the specialisation Archival Studies: archiving in a colonial context; insight into the significance of archiving processes for the way in which a society deals with its documentation heritage in general and its historical practice in particular; disclosure, including digital disclosure, of archives as part of the broader heritage sector;
in the specialisation Europaeum Programme European History and Civilisation: Leiden-Oxford-Paris programme: state formation in Europe; European identity from a comparative perspective; the development of culture and society in Europe.
- Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following:
in the specialisation Ancient History: the comparative method; application of socio-scientific methods; specialised source knowledge, in particular of documentary sources, and more specifically epigraphy;
in the specialisation Colonial and Global History: empirical research from a comparative and connective perspective;
in the subspecialisation Maritime History also: comparative research; archive research;
in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: the ability to analyse and evaluate primary sources from the period, if necessary with the aid of modern translations; ability to make use of relevant methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis to interpret sources in their textual and historical context;
in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the interdisciplinary approach (application of theories and methods from social sciences), the comparative perspective (diachronic and synchronic) and working with a large variety of primary sources;
in the subspecialisation Economic History also: the application of economic concepts, research methods or models; insight into the argumentation of current debates;
in the specialisation Political Culture and National Identities: international comparison and transfer; the analysis of the specific perspectives of secondary studies; a cultural-historical approach of politics and a political-historical approach of culture;
in the subspecialisation Political Debate also: historical and interdisciplinary analysis of political argumentation and rhetoric;
in the specialisation Archival Studies: theoretical foundations of archivistics; assessment and selection of archives;
in the specialisation Europaeum Programme European History and Civilisation: Leiden-Oxford-Paris programme: international comparison; archive research; the perspective of three different traditions – Leiden, Sorbonne and Oxford.
Mode of instruction
30 EC = 840 hours
Written thesis (ca. 23.0000 words, based on research in primary sources, excl. footnotes, bibliography and supplements).
Measured learning objectives: 1-14
Final oral exam (compulsory)
Measured learning objectives: 1-14
The MA History is rounded off with an oral examination, during a public ceremony, in which students have to defend their MA thesis and be able to discuss additional scholarly literature. The Board of Examiners includes the performance in this oral examination in its considerations in deciding on awarding a distinction for the entire MA History programme. The Board of Examiners can hereby not deviate by more than 0.5 point from the distinction indicated by the weighted average.
The Thesis should meet the following knock out criteria.
The MA Thesis:
1. Contains a clear, well-argued and original research question, taking into account the theory and
method of the field.
2. Is convincingly situated within theoretical, conceptual and methodological debates of the specialization.
3. Accounts for the chosen research method(s).
4. Is based on critical research and interpretation of an independently collected and selected corpus of sources.
5. Contains an analysis and evaluation of a large body of independently collected scholarly literature.
6. Is well-structured and consistent in its argumentation.
7. Is written in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline.
8. Displays thorough knowledge and comprehension of the relevant specialization and its corresponding historiography.
9. Produces an original scholarly argument.
Only theses that meet all these criteria may be marked as sufficient.
Written paper: 100 %
Final oral exam (compulsory): 0 %
The Graduation plan is leading. When a plan is adjusted (deadline/supervisor), student needs to submit a new Graduation Plan.
Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.
By submission Graduation plan.
Coordinator of Studies Esther Buizer