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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.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First Semester (Fall Semester)

Deep Rivers: the great migrations in African-American History 10
Dynasties in the Medieval and Early Modern World 10
From Dawn to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of Iberian Empires, 1415-1999 10
Global Perspectives on Neoliberalism 10
Maritime Conflict Management around Europe, 1200-1600 10
Maritime treasures. Diving into maritime history and archaeology 10
NATO, The Netherlands and the Cold War 10
Negotiating Power in Africa 10
Political Eloquence 10
Rebels with a cause: motives and actions of foreign fighters (1850-present) 10
Social Movements, Protest and Political Change, 1880-2000 10
The Business of Empire: Colonial and Imperial Entrepreneurship, 1415-1974 10
The Last Pagan. Julian Apostata as Emperor and Intellectual 10
The United States and Human Rights 10
You Are What You Eat: Gender, Class, Ethnicity and Food Culture 10

Second Semester (Spring Semester)

Asian Events in Early Modern European Sources: Information Transfer and Genres in the Production of Knowledge 10
Connecting Dreams: Europe in Africa, Africa in Europe 10
Constructing National Cultures. Nationalization of the Cultural sphere during the long 19th Century 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants 10
Diversities of doing Greek. ‘Hellenisation’ and ‘Hellenism’ in ancient Eurasia 10
Building (or Breaking) Political Trust: Promises and Expectations of Good Government (1200-1600) 10
‘Everyone will fear you’: powerful objects in ancient religions 10
Fighting Epidemics Together: Health Policies Between the Local and the Global 10
Greek Papyrology 10
History of Migration and Diversity 10
Numismatics: A Practical Guide 10
Life Writing as Political History 10
The Hague, Theatrum Europaeum of diplomacy, 1648-1800 10
The Decolonization War in Indonesia, 1945-1950: Written and Oral Sources 10
The Last Pagan. Julian Apostata as Emperor and Intellectual 10
The power of multinationals, 1945-2015 10
The Russian Revolution Revisited 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