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Material and Historical Methods


Admission requirements

This course is part of the sub-master Governance of Migration and Diversity. It can only be taken by students who have chosen that sub-master.


This course is given at and by Leiden University, and is part of the Governance of Migration and Diversity Master programme.

The course will help you make a quick start with the MA thesis you will be writing in the second semester. The corpus of empirical material you will be using for this thesis is larger than that of the material you have been using in earlier years. I requires special skills to design and manage this larger project. In this course we will review material and historical methods which are particularly suited for research into migration and diversity. We will look at several theories and see how these are best connected to empirical sources. How best to design a doable research? How to do a good pilot study? How best to manage large sets of data? How can you avoid bias or methodological nationalism? How to ‘read’ against the grain, how to interpretate silence? How do you juggle the numbers? How to combine a very different array of sources (novels, interviews, newspapers, parliamentary debates, organizational archives) without drowning in your project? What is the saturation effect? You will read a set of recent articles, and do a pilot study using primary sources.

Course objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1 The ability to independently identify and select sources and literature on methods;

  • 2 The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 3 The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on preliminary research results in English;

  • 4 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;

  • 5 Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on 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.

  • 6 The ability to interpret a potentially complex corpus of sources; the ability to identify new approaches.


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 4 EC x 28 hours= 140 hours

  • Attendance: 12 hours.

  • Preparing for class/reading literature: 30 hours.

  • Preparing presentations: 8 hours.

  • Carrying out research: 45 hours.

  • Writing paper: 45 hours.

Assessment method

Students will write an essay of 2000 words based on the literature and their pilot study. Presentation and participation will also influence the grade.

Written paper: 70%
Oral presentation: 20%
Class participation: 10%

Resit: students can rewrite their paper once if they failed.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • submission of preliminary papers.

Reading list

Students will read articles. A list of articles will be made available before the start of the class via Blackboard.


This has to be filled out by the key-user of the department.

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Marlou Schrover