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*Arts and Culture

The Leiden MA Arts and Culture upholds a critical approach to the visual and decorative arts and architecture, as well as cultures of collecting and the museum. Students can engage themselves with a fascinating range of topics while choosing their path of interest through the supply of modules, culminating in their MA-thesis. We focus on several interrelated themes: the object and its agency; critical theory and world art studies; and museum studies. Possible study paths lead through the late medieval and early modern period, contemporary art & world art studies, cultural heritage, cultures of collecting and the museum in past and present times, or in combination. We closely interact with museums and heritage institutes: several museum curators (e.g. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) teach in our MA-programme and we actively search for interesting extra-curricular internships and on-site research experiences. At Leiden University, students are encouraged to follow their individual fascination in exploring a large range of topics in relevant contexts, studied from an interdisciplinary and critical perspective.

Click on “More info” below for more details about the programme or visit our website.

More info

Programme objectives

  • to enable students to acquire academic knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the field of Arts and Culture in general, and in particular with regard to the chosen specialisation;

  • to enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • independent academic reasoning and conduct,

  • the ability to analyse complex problems,

  • academic reporting;

  • to prepare students for an academic career and further education;

  • to prepare students for a career outside academia.


The structure of the programme is the following:

  • Core Course I: Critical Perspectives in Art History and Museum Studies (10 EC)

  • Core Course II: Art History and Curatorial Practice (10 EC)

  • Two thematic electives in chosen specialization (20 EC)

  • Thesis (20 EC).

Full-time and part-time

The programme consists of 60 EC, to be completed in one year.
Part-time students complete the programme in 1,5 years, they will have a course load of 20 EC per semester. Courses are scheduled during office hours.

Requirements for graduation:

Requirements for graduation are:

  • Successful completion of courses, following the structure of the programme (40 EC)

  • Successful completion of MA Thesis (20 EC). If a student does not finish his/her thesis in the course of one academic year, the student has to deliver a new proposal at the board of examiners and will be assigned a new supervisor in the next semester.

Students need to complete at least 40 EC within their field of specialization:

  • 2 thematic electives in field of specialisation (20 EC);

  • Thesis (20 EC).


The specialisations are:


See Teaching and Examination Regulations (OER)


Career Preparation

Career Preparation in the Master Arts and Culture

The programme

The curriculum of the MA Arts and Culture is characterised by three main overall perspectives: the study of works of art, the decorative arts and buildings from a global perspective; the focus on historical and contemporary works of art, the decorative arts and architecture in terms of agency and reception; and to study art and the decorative arts as engaged cultural responses to life sciences.
How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and why? 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’d like to do after graduation?

These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may 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 and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. 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 Faculty 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 advise you to take careful note of them:

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. 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, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.

It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of the MA Arts and Culture 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:

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

Courses of the MA Arts and Culture

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 implicitly in each semester.

  • Under certain conditions It is possible to conduct (part of) the research for the MA thesis within an art institute or a museum. For more information see MA Thesis Art and Culture

  • An internship where you gain valuable work experience is possible as an extracurricular activity. Contact Career Service for more information.


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 or with your study coordinator