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History: Societies and Institutions (Research)

New Research MA students (including those still in the admittance procedure) are required to attend the introduction on Friday 9 September, in the LIPSIUS building / room 228, 11-12h and in room 227, 14-17h.

Research MA students entering their second semester or year are required to attend a meeting on Friday 9 September, in the LIPSIUS building / room 148, 11-12h and in room 227, 14-17h.

Programme and contact details can be found under “Information”.

History (Research): Ancient History
History (Research): Migration and Global Interdependence
History (Research): History of European Expansion and Globalisation
History (Research): Medieval and Early Modern European History
History (Research): Political Culture and National Identities

Optional courses (Year 2)

Students take two to four optional courses in the second year of the Research MA Programme.
You can follow courses of 10 ECTS or of 5 ECTS. All courses offered at level 500 and up can be taken as ‘Optional Course’. These include the courses (offered by the Institute for History (subject to availability of space), but also may comprise MA-courses of other departments and universities. In many cases it is advisable to follow these courses abroad or to do an internship.

All MA Research Seminars can be followed as ‘Optional Course’.
Here you find the optional MA Research Seminars offered by the History department of Leiden University:

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Research Seminars

First semester

The American Civil Rights Movement 10
Italian unification and the 'romanisation' of Italy 10
The European Civil War 1914-1945 10
Revolutionary movements in modern Western society 10
Memory of the Holocaust 10
Consumption and material culture in Africa since c. 1850 5.0/10.0
Cross-cultural Connections, 1492-1776: Trade, Marriage and Business Networks 10
Economic Development of Southeast Asia 10
Seized by rumours. Intelligence networks in the Dutch colonial state 10
Dutch Atlantic Connections. Elmina as a Dutch nodal point in West Africa in the 18th century 10
Medieval peoples and the birth of nations 10
Heroism in the Dutch Revolt 1566-1648, the true story! 10
Migration to the city globally compared (19th-21st centuries) 10
What's the problem? Old and new debates on migration 10

Second semester

A famous inhabitant of the Roman empire: Jesus of Nazareth 10
Living through the Soviet past 10
The criminalization of black men 10
Connecting dreams: Europe in Africa/Africa in Europe 10
Creating an Atlantic community: transatlantic relations since 1945 10
Forgotten Dutch Caribbean Plantation Colonies: Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo, 1770-1800 10
Nobilities in transition 1300-1800 10
Arts and Culture in Area Studies: Culture and Conquest: the impact of the Mongols and their descendants 10
Scarcity or abundance? Appraisal, selection and preservation of the past 10

More info

Programme Details

  • Title
    Master of Arts

  • Duration
    2 years, full-time

  • Start dates
    September and February

  • Language of instruction
    English (Dutch in case only Dutch-speaking students attend a class or in case the subject of the class makes knowledge of Dutch necessary)

  • Responsibility
    Programme director Institute for History


Visiting address: Building: Johan Huizinga, Doelensteeg 16, Leiden
Secretary’s office: room 001
Openings hours: Monday, Tuesdag & Thursday, 9.00 am-12.00 pm; Wednesday, 13.30-16.30 pm
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2651
Fax: +31 (0)71 527 2652

Mailing address

Institute for History
P.O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden

The Netherlands ### Coordinator

Director of Studies: Dr. P.J.J. Meel
E-mail: |


Objective of the research master’s programme is to prepare students for an academic or semi-academic career, within or outside the university. The programme will therefore be aimed at shaping students into independent, creative and critical researchers who are able to conduct innovative research successfully and to produce a well-written thesis. The two-year study programme will provide ample opportunities to acquire general disciplinary knowledge and skills at master’s degree level as well as specific research skills. Much attention will be paid to the development of theories on historical processes, argumentation, historiography and methodology of historical research. The research master’s thesis should provide the basic components for a future PhD-thesis.


The research master’s programme is founded on the fields of research which are well represented in Leiden. The research programme of the Institute for History consists of five specialisations, each representing a specific approach to the study of history and each addressing specific historiographical traditions and methodological problems and possibilities.

Ancient History
Medieval and Early Modern European History
History of Migration and Global Interdependence
History of European Expansion and Globalisation
History of Political Culture and National Identities


The curriculum will take up four semesters of 30 ECTS each, and will allow regular master students to switch to the research master’s programme after the first semester (having obtained the Board of Admission’s approval), and vice versa.
The curriculum consists of a number of components, starting from a general introduction and leading towards the development of research skills.
In the first semester, students will be offered an introductory literature seminar and a research seminar in one of the five specialisations. The third course concentrates on historical methodology.
In the second semester, a second research seminar is taken, besides a general course on historical controversies which focuses on the development of theories on historical processes, historiography and methodology of historical research. In the tutorial, students will meet the senior university lecturer or professor who will supervise them and prepare them to conduct research independently, creatively and critically.
Students are encouraged to take optional courses in the third semester at a foreign partner university. The remainder of the second year of the programme (40 ECTS) is scheduled to carry out a substantial research project, which will be based on the student’s original research and collection of primary data in the Netherlands or abroad. The research master’s thesis should provide the basic components for a potential PhD-thesis, which can be written within the PhD-programme of the Institute for History. Also see:
NB: It is compulsory for all research master’s students to attend the monthly graduate seminar of the Institute for History during their two years of study. Furthermore, research master’s students are required to attend workshops organized by the specialisation of their choice.

Honours programme

Research master’s students have the opportunity to take part in the Crayenborgh Course, the honours class of Leiden University, in which various distinguished historians of the Netherlands and abroad discuss a historical theme. The Crayenborgh Course is extracurricular. Candidates will be selected on the basis of motivation and previous study results.


Admission is on the basis of a selection procedure. Previous education, study results, motivation and letters of recommendation will be taken into consideration for admission. The deadline for BA-students in the Institute for History of Leiden University to send in their BA-thesis is 1 June if they wish to start the research master’s programme in history in September, or 1 December if they wish to start in February. Students embarking on a Research MA programme need to have a BA-diploma at the moment they start with the MA programme.

Application deadlines:
Dutch students:
1 June, to start in September
1 December, to start in February.
Foreign students:
1 April, to start in September
1 October, to start in February.