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Art History: Arts, Media and Society

Artistic and (digital) media are increasingly shaping our culture and world. In the BA Arts, Media and Society, we will examine contemporary art practices in order to find new perspectives on global issues.

  • Study contemporary art

  • Follow a completely English-taught programme

  • Be part of an international classroom

  • Find new perspectives on global issues

  • Learn to understand contemporary art practices

Are you ready? Jump in and explore!

First year

In the first year of the BA Arts, Media and Society, students take introductory courses in various fields. All courses are obligatory.

All first year courses need to be passed in order to participate in the BA3 Seminar and the Final Paper Arts, Media and Society in the third year. A fully completed first year might also be a requirement for some electives.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Semester I

Imagining Media: Infrastructure, Information, Interface 5
Academic Skills I: On Studying Art History and Its Sources 5
World Art Studies 5
Modern and Contemporary Visual Art after 1800 5
Art in Western Europe - 1800 5
Photography: Analysis & Theory 5

Semester II

Academic Skills II: The Academic Research Paper 5
The Social Roles of Art in the Modern and Contemporary Period 5
Cultural Representation and Signifying Practices 5
Cultures of Exhibiting 5
Cinema: Analysis & Theory 5
History of European Decorative Arts and Design 5

Second year

In the second year of Arts, Media and Society, students build further upon the knowledge and skills gathered in their first year.

Aside from the obligatory core courses, students can choose one out of three specialisation topical courses, and one out of two BA2 seminars in semester 1.

Semester 2 follows a similar pattern, with obligatory courses and a range of topical courses as well as seminars.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

The History of Museums 10
Core Curriculum: World Art and Beyond 5

One obligatory Topical Course

Topical Course: Artivism 5

One Seminar BA2 AMS, choose one out of two:

Seminar BA2: Art and Cultural Memory 5
Seminar BA2: Vulgar Arts 5

Choose one of the following Topical Courses:

Digital Media, Culture and Society 5
Cultural Memory of World War I & II 5

Second semester

Core Course and Fieldwork

Core Curriculum: Philosophy of Science 5
AMS on Site: Curating the City 10

Two Topical Courses within Arts Media and Society

Digital Heritage 5
TV Series 5

One Seminar BA2 AMS:

Seminar BA2: Art and the Other: ‘Primitivism’ in Perspective 5
Seminar BA2: Collecting in the Contemporary Museum 5
Seminar BA2: Art & Technology 5

Third year

The third year comes with a free elective space worth 30 EC. Students can decide to obtain these credits by completing a minor, an individual elective package, an internship or by studying at a foreign university (exchange programme). It is also possible to choose courses from another discipline to complete these 30 EC (Art History electives included).

Students only have to take one BA3-seminar (10 EC) in their third year. Depending on their interests and study planning, they follow this course in the first or the second semester.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Framing AMS Case Studies 5

Choose one of the following BA3 Seminars:

Seminar BA3: Sensing Style: from Subcultures to Digital Bubbles 10
Seminar BA3: Virtual Museums and Exhibitions 10

Second semester

The Academic Art of Publishing: Theory and Practice 5
BA Final Paper Arts, Media and Society 10

Students that didn't take their BA3 Seminar in the first semester, should take:

Seminar BA3: Politics and Ethics in the contemporary museum 10


Admissions requirements

The first year of study (60 EC) must have been completed.


In addition to the required courses in the bachelor’s programme, the student is required to take of total of 30 EC in elective courses.
The elective requirement can be satisfied in a variety of ways provided the prevailing faculty and university requirements and norms according article 3.2 of the Course and Examination Regulations are met.


A minor is a specified programme that is approved in advance. All university faculties offer a range of minors. The minors offered by the Faculty of the Humanities are often interdisciplinary in nature, which means that certain topics, which are sometimes social issues, are approached from various angles.
On the minors website you will find information about the minor system. The minor programmes on offer can be found in the online prospectus for more specific information.

Studying Abroad

A study abroad programme is a good experience for any student and an excellent way to complement the curriculum for your own major area of study. Your time studying abroad also helps you prepare for the job market. For more information about exchange programmes with a foreign university and about grants, please contact either the Humanities International Office or your Study advisor.

Study abroad in the BA Arts, Media and Society
There are possibilites to incorporate a full semester abroad in your study programme without delaying your studies. Discuss the options with the study advisor. Students are advised to contact the study adviser in the first period of their second year in order to arrange their exchange in time.


You can also obtain your 30 EC of electives by completing an internship. This involves working at a business or organisation under the guidance of a lecturer in the faculty and an employee of that organisation. The activities during an internship are often related to what you have learned in your degree programme. If you chose to do an internship, the Student Career Service can help you find a suitable placement at one of a large number of businesses and institutions. Take a look at the internship guidelines and the internship rules and regulations.

Elective Package

If you wish to assemble your own personalised elective package using course offerings at either Leiden University or another institution of higher education, the following conditions apply: The courses chosen must exhibit cohesion and structure. You must consult with your coordinator of studies concerning how to satisfy your elective requirements. The individual elective package must be presented to the examination committee for approval, using the request procedure.

If you want to follow an internship as part of your elective package, the content of your internship must be coherent with the other courses in your elective package.


The Board of Examiners needs to approve the course you use in your free elective package. The content of the courses needs to be coherent and the course should be of sufficient level (a combination of first, second and third year courses would be ideal). Students who follow a minor from Leiden University, TU Delft or Erasmus University Rotterdam do not have to ask the permission from the Board of Examiners.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Semester I

BA Internship Arts, Media and Society 15

More info

Programme objectives

As a student of Arts, Media and Society, you will examine contemporary art practices in order to find new perspectives on global issues. At the Faculty of Humanities, you will make an in-depth study of:

  • Historical and contemporary developments in art

  • Developments in (digital) media

  • The role of art in society

  • The cultural value of arts

Arts, Media and Society offers you the opportunity to build both broad and specialist knowledge of how arts, media and society interact with one another. Bringing these elements together makes this programme unique in the world. Becoming an authority starts in Leiden!

The programme

The English-taught full-time Bachelor’s programme in Arts, Media and Society takes three years, and you will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History, specialisation Arts, Media and Society. In principle, you will be studying for 40 hours a week – a full working week. Around 16 hours a week will be spent in lectures and tutorial groups. In the rest of the week you will be studying independently.

Year 1: Working on fundamental knowledge
In the first year of Arts, Media and Society, you will establish core knowledge and competences in the field of Art History.
While contemporary art is the main focus of the programme, in order to understand the present and the future, you will need fundamental knowledge about the past.

Binding Study Advice
Bachelor students at Leiden University, will be issued with binding study advice (BSA). This means you must obtain sufficient study credits in your first year of study to be permitted to continue your Bachelor’s programme. The general requirements for full time BA students are: 45 EC in your first year.
In addition, the BA programme Arts, Media and Society requires students to succesfully pass the courses Photography: Analysis & Theory and Academic Skills II (minimum grade 6.0). Please read the information about the binding study advice (BSA) procedures.

Year 2: Studying cutting-edge developments
Focusing on global issues in our globalised and technological era, you will examine the impact of art and media in society, and of course, the interactions between them.
You will immerse yourself in the world of cutting-edge developments in contemporary art and media — from traditional media to digital media, from activist art to poetic encounters.
Social media will be examined as platforms and strategies for political and social action, e.g., during the Arab Spring.

Year 3: Theorising intersections and relations
In the third year, you will advance your theoretical understanding at the intersection of art, media and society and develop your own critical analysis in the form of a thesis.
The dynamic exchange between artistic strategies and activist strategies will be a converging point of the programme.
In the Arts, Media and Society programme there is a free elective space of 30 EEC which you can use to do an internship, study abroad or follow a minor programme at another faculty.

Combined BA Arts, Media and Society (Leiden University) and BA Fine Arts (Royal Academy of Art The Hague)

Students from the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) can combine their visual arts program with the Bachelor’s programme Arts, Media and Society at Leiden University. After four years, students receive a bachelor's degree from Leiden University as well as from the Royal Academy . The goal is to train artists who will actively participate in the discourse in arts and society. You can find all relevant information on the KABK website.
Students participating in the Double Degree programme must comply with the Binding Study Advice requirements for the BA Arts, Media and Society. Please note that KABK exemptions are considered regular AMS courses which count towards the BSA requirements.

Transition regulations

Due to changes in the curriculum of the programme with effect from 1 September 2023, the transition regulation below applies. Courses listed in the left-hand column, are no longer offered and may be replaced by courses listed in the right-hand column.

Transition regulations BA1

Old programme course New replacement course
Freshman's Class Academic Skills I Academic Skills I: On Studying Art History and its Sources
Big Media Imagining Media: Infrastructure, Information, Interface

Transition regulations BA2

Old programme course New replacement course
Esthetica Esthetica en de impact van kunst (blok 1)
Art's Agency: Hoe kunst de wereld verandert Esthetica en de impact van kunst (blok 2)

Transition regulations BA3

Old programme course New replacement course
The Cultural Field in Practice The Academic Art of Publishing: Theory and Practice

BA Thesis and graduation requirements

In order to be able to graduate, students need to have obtained 180 EC according to the programme requirements. Furthermore, they need to meet the requirements of the free elective space and they should have succesfully finished the BA Final Paper AMS. The regulations with regard to the Final Paper are published in the most recent Teaching and Examination Regulations and on the website with graduation procedures.

The Bachelor Thesis Arts, Media and Society is written as part of a thematic seminar, offered in the second semester. There is the possibility to ask the Board of Examiners for permission to write the thesis in the first semester. Students who do not succeed to pass their thesis on the deadline or resit deadline, have to start again in the next semester, with a new subject for their thesis.

Master's after graduation

After obtaining your bachelor’s degree you can continue with a master’s programme. Once you have successfully completed your master’s you will have earned the title of Master of Arts (MA).

If you have obtained a bachelor’s diploma in Arts, Media and Society, then Leiden University offers four types of masters:

One-year master’s
A one-year master’s in Arts and Culture (60EC) which follows on from the Bachelor’s programme in Arts, Media and Society. Within this master’s programme you can opt for the following specialisations:

Research master’s
A two-year master’s programme for if you want to continue in the academic world once you have completed your studies. The Bachelor’s programme in Arts, Media and Society can be completed with this research master’s:

A master’s in teaching
A two-year master's which prepares you for a position in education in the Netherlands, for example at a secondary school or in adult education. There are a number of criteria students of Arts, Media and Society have to meet to be eligible for this programme.

Other one-year master’s programmes
For example:

Career Preparation

Career Preparation for the BA Arts, Media and Society

The programme

The curriculum of the BA Arts, Media and Society will let you explore the most pressing issues in society from perspectives offered by art, artists, creative practices and (digital) media. It will also enable you to understand the influence and relevance of the role of the arts and media in today’s society.
How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and how does this benefit your studies? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you would like to do after graduation?
These questions and more will be addressed at various times during your study programme. You may also already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes, ambitions and options, and will give you the chance to explore the job market and your professional future. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.


You will be notified via the Humanities website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we would encourage you to take careful note of them:

First year

Second year

Third year

Transferable skills

Future employers are not only interested in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’ you have acquired These include cognitive skills such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, these are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well in an organisation or team.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you both acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, and are also are aware of the skills you have developed and the further skills you still want to learn. To help you with this, the course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of Arts, Media and Society include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.

The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Research

  • Analysing

  • Generating solutions

  • Project-based working

  • Digital skills

  • Working together

  • Oral communication

  • Written communication

  • Presenting

  • Societal relevance

  • Reflecting

  • Independent learning

  • Resilience

Courses of Arts, Media and Society

Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester. Within Arts, Media and Society, this takes place within the following courses:

First year

  • Freshman’s Class: introduction to academic research and written communication, as you will for the first conduct literature research and write an academic paper about this.

  • Academic Skills II: oral communication (you will give a presentation of your own research to your fellow students), analysing texts, critical thinking and offering constructive feedback (by commenting on the oral presentations of your peers).

Second year

  • World Art and Beyond: intercultural skills (students will be made aware of the commonalities and differences between different cultures and the ways these are being dealt with in art)

  • AMS on Site: collaboration (students will have to work on assignments in a group), project management (dividing tasks in the group and monitor progress of the project), written and visual communication.

  • Digital Heritage:
    Digital Heritage focuses on the most current form of heritage research involving both the preservation of digital heritage, and the digitization of heritage.

Third year

  • Framing AMS Case Studies: to creatively engage with approaches to case studies and related materials, to learn how to ‘frame’ cases or objects.


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service 071 527 22 35, or with your study advisor.