nl en

History (Research): Ancient History

Although the main focus of the ResMA Ancient History is on your chosen specialisation, the programme also includes a number of courses which enable you to acquire a better understanding of theories on historical processes, historical debates and methodology of historical research.

In the first semester, you will follow a course in Historical Theory (10 EC) and in the second semester a course in Developing Research Proposals (10 EC). The sequence of the remaining courses - two Research Seminars (2 x 10 EC), one Literature Seminar (10 EC), 10 EC worth of courses from Research Schools, 20 EC’s worth of Optional Courses, a Tutorial (10 EC) and the Research Master Thesis (30 EC) – can be flexible.

The student must get in touch with the Coordinator of Studies if the student wants advice on the study plan.

Year 1 & 2

Note: starting the Research Master in February means that the programme is followed in a different order. We strongly advise students to set up their study plan in consultation with the Coordinator of Studies before the start of the programme.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Year 1

Literature Seminar

Cultural interactions and identities in the Graeco-Roman world, 323 BC-AD 500 10
LS: Ancient Divination: Omens and Oracles 10

Research Seminar

Best Suited for the Job? Imperial Legitimacy from Augustus to Commodus 10
Administration, society, culture and religion in Roman Egypt, 30 BC-AD 640 10

Compulsory Courses

Historical Theory (ResMA History) 10
Developing Research Proposals (ResMA History) 10
Research School Courses (ResMA History) 10
Tutorial 10

Year 2

Optional Courses (20 EC)

During the programme, students take 20 EC worth of Optional Courses. See Electives for courses within the programme, or click on Optional Courses (ResMA History) for an overview of other options.

Optional Courses (ResMA History) 20
Research Workshop: Roman Numismatics (10 EC) 10
Research Workshop: Greek and Latin Epigraphy (10 EC) 10
Greek Papyrology 10

ResMA Thesis

ResMA Thesis History & Final Exam 30


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Research Seminars, semester I

Best Suited for the Job? Imperial Legitimacy from Augustus to Commodus 10
Maritime treasures: diving into maritime history 10
On the hippietrail to Indonesia and Greater India. Countercultural Imagination and Colonial Legacies 10
Colonial Citizenship and Empire in Asia: 1780-1900 10
Science and Empire (1800-today) 10
Negotiating Power in Africa 10
The Business of Empire: Colonial and Imperial Entrepreneurship, 1415-1974 10
In or Out? History of In- and Exclusion since 1900 10
Deep Rivers: the great migrations in African-American History 10
Premodern Political Culture in Europe 10
Political Eloquence in the Netherlands 10
A Cultural History of Time 10
Do Elections Make Democracies? 10
The US in the Anthropocene 10

Research Seminars, semester II

Administration, society, culture and religion in Roman Egypt, 30 BC-AD 640 10
Surinamese Political History: A Special Case of Shared History? 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants (ResMA) 10
The Russian Revolution Revisited 10
The Rise of Banal Nationalism 10
The Slave Ship: Business, terror and resistance 10
Arsenal of Democracy?: The United States and the World since 1945 10
RS: Religious Conflict in Premodern Europe 10
Leiden Elective Academic Periodical 10

More info


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;
    1. To enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills:
      i. The ability to solve academic problems independently, critically and creatively;
      ii. The ability to analyze complex problems;
      iii. The ability to clearly report academic results, both in writing and orally;
    1. To prepare students for an academic career at a university for postgraduate programmes
    1. 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 specializations 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.



The History Research Master consists of the following specialisations:

Coordinator of Studies

Send an e-mail to

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in Research MA History

The programme

The curriculum of the Research MA History is characterised by the guiding principle ‘Global Questions, Local Sources’, referring to our aim to follow the international developments in historiography and to teach students to critically analyse source materials. In our Research MA History students develop their academic skills by a thorough orientation on international debates, by analysing historical sources, and by discussing these insights with professors and co-students. In the range of subjects that is on offer, the Leiden MA History is the broadest and most international Research MA History in the Netherlands.

The Research MA History offers six specialisations. In each specialisation, students in the Leiden Research MA 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 ‘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 Prospectus of Research MA 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 Research MA 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 MA History, this takes place within 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 Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your Coordinator of Studies.