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Note: starting the Research Master in the spring semester (February) will mean that the programme is followed in a different order. We strongly advise students to set up their studyplan in consultation with the Coordinator of Studies before the start of the programme.


Literature Seminar (10 EC)
Students commence their programme with a Literature Seminar, whether starting in September or February.

Research Seminar (20 EC)
Students follow two Research Seminars within their specialisation.

Historical Theory (10 EC)
Historical Theory is one of the common courses for the Research MA students. The course is only offered in the fall (September) semester.

Developing Research Proposals (10 EC)
Developing Research Proposals is the second of the common courses for the Research MA students, focusing on writing a research proposal. The course is compulsory and is only offered in the spring (February) semester.

Tutorial (10 EC)
The tutorial is part of the second (and third, if you follow a course abroad) semester. Students have to ask a member of staff active in the field of his/her specialisation to act as their tutor. See the Overview of Staff for a possible supervisor.

The tutorial is meant to carefully plan and prepare the student to write his/her thesis. During the tutorial you will explore the field and determine the subject and research question of your thesis. The tutorial is the mainstay of the research master’s as it offers intensive, eye-to-eye discussions with one of Leiden’s many specialists.

Research School Courses (10 EC)
Research Schools courses offer training in both methodology and area specific knowledge. Research MA students choose courses at the Research Schools that relates most with their possible area of research. See the Overview of Research Schools for the possiblities.

Optional Courses (20 EC)
Students follow two optional courses. All Research Seminars of the (Research) MA studies offered at level 500 or higher can be followed as optional course. These may comprise Research Seminars offered by Leiden University and those offered by other (foreign) universities. Alternatively, students can also opt for an internship. For more information about the different possibilities, see the specific Research MA Optional Courses page.

Thesis and exam (30 EC) The Research Master’s Programme will be concluded by a 30 EC ResMA-thesis.

Optional Courses

Do note: Research Master History students may only take courses offered at level 500 or higher as an Optional Course.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2
The Ancient Silk Roads: Global Connectivity & Innovation 10
Sailing the Dutch Atlantic 10
Heritage formation and religion in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia and India 10
The Decolonization War in Indonesia, 1945-1950: Written and Oral Sources 10
Connecting Dreams: Europe in Africa, Africa in Europe 10
The Business of Empire: Colonial and Imperial Entrepreneurship, 1415-1974 10
You Are What You Eat: Gender, Class, Ethnicity and Food Culture 10
Deep Rivers: The great migrations in African-American History 10
Making sense of epidemics in Europe, 1500-1800 10
(Re)framing Past and Present in Narrative Sources from the Low Countries (c. 1250-c.1800) 10
The Rise of Banal Nationalism 10
Historians and Ideology: Images of the German Past between Reichsgründung and National Socialism 10
Politicians and Statesmen. Professionalization, Activism and Perception since the 18th Century 10
Democracy in America: The Public and the Private in U.S. Politics 10
The Fringes of Enlightenment: Colonialism and Society in Asia, 1780-1870 10
Science and Empire (1800-today) 10
The Slave Ship: Business, terror and resistance 10
Slavery in Europe’s Frontier Zones 1300-1800: Networks, Knowledge and Labour 10
The Russian Revolution Revisited 10
Do Elections Make Democracies? 10
The History of Everyday Life under Authoritarian Regimes 10

Additional information


The programme has the following objectives:
1) To broaden and deepen the students’ knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the field of history;
2) To enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • The ability to solve academic problems independently, critically and creatively;

  • The ability to analyse complex problems;

  • The ability to clearly report academic results, both in writing and orally;
    3) To prepare students for an academic career at a university for postgraduate programmes;
    4) To prepare students for a non-academic career in the public or private sector for which advanced research skills and practical research experience are a prerequisite.


The Research Master programme in History (120 EC) offers you the chance to determine a study based on your own particular interests and ambitions. With several specialisations on offer – each containing a number of specific subjects.
The two-year 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.


  • Literature Seminar 10 EC

  • Research Seminar 20 EC

  • Historical Theory 10 EC

  • Developing Research Proposals 10 EC

  • Research School Courses 10 EC

  • Optional Courses 20 EC

  • Tutorial 10 EC

  • Thesis and Exam 30 EC

Requirements for graduation in the specialisation

Language of instruction

The language of instruction and examination of the programme is English and Dutch. Students are expected to have an adequate command of the language of instruction of the programme.

Coordinator of studies

Send an e-mail to

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in the Research MA History

The programme

The ResMA History in Leiden is an nationally and internationally renowned 2-year Research MA. It has as a guiding principle ‘Global Questions, Local Sources’, referring to our aim to follow the international developments in historiography and to teach students to critically analyze source materials. In our ResMA History students develop their academic skills by a thorough orientation on international debates, by analyzing historical sources, and by discussing these insights with professors and co-students. In the range of subjects that is on offer, the Leiden ResMA History is the broadest and most international History ResMA in the Netherlands.

The ResMA History offers five specialisations. In each specialisation, students in the Leiden ResMA History acquire a broad, comparative dimension in their knowledge and connect this to global events. This approach to learning brings a broad understanding and an aptitude for critical thinking both of which are highly valued by employers today.

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 ResMA History 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 ResMA History

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 the ResMA History, this takes place within, for example, the following courses:


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 071-5272235, or with your Coordinator of Studies, mrs. Esther Buizer-Janssen.