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History: Ancient History

In the first semester, the student takes a Literature Seminar (10 EC), a Research Seminar (10 EC), and a Research Workshop (5 EC) within their specialisation. Also, the student will take a Academic Skills and Thesis Seminar (5 EC) to kick start working on the MA Thesis.

In the second semester, the student has the opportunity to fill the Optional Course (10 EC) with several options, and has to write a Thesis (20 EC).

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

Ancient History

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Literature Seminar within specialisation

"Life in a Multicultural Society”: Historiographic Debates and Perspectives on Hellenistic Egypt 10
Debating Ancient Slavery 10

Research Seminar within specialisation

Empire and Diversity in the Roman World 10
Religions of the North: Impact of the Roman Empire on Religion in the Northwestern Provinces 10

Research Workshop within specialisation

Material Culture of Ancient Religion 5
Research Workshop: Greek and Latin Epigraphy (5 EC) 5

Academic Skills and Thesis Seminar

Academic Skills and Thesis Seminar 5
Academic Skills and Thesis Seminar 5

Optional Courses (10 EC)

During the programme, students take 10 EC worth of Optional Courses. See Electives for courses within the programme, or click on Optional Courses (MA History) for an overview of other options.

Optional Courses (MA History) 10
Research Workshop: Greek and Latin Epigraphy (10 EC) 10
Greek Papyrology 10

MA Thesis

* MA Thesis History & Final Exam 20


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Literature Seminars, semester I

Objects of Heritage, Archives and Knowledge. Critical Approaches 10
Navigating History: New Perspectives on Maritime History 10
Essential Readings in Economic History 10
Current Debates in Medieval and Early Modern History I 10
Politics, Culture and National Identities, 1789 to the present 10
Circulation of People, Commodities and Ideas in the Indian Ocean World (1500-1800) 10
Literature Seminar Social History 10

Research Seminars, semester I

Maritime treasures: diving into maritime history 10
The Business of Empire: Colonial and Imperial Entrepreneurship, 1415-1974 10
Political Eloquence in the Netherlands 10
Surinamese Political History: A Special Case of Shared History? 10
Empire and Diversity in the Roman World 10
Global Peace Movements in the Era of Decolonization 10
Thrones, Families, and Power: Dynastic Rule in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds. 10
Gender, Sexuality, Migration Since 1960 10
The Irish Revolution, 1912-1923 10
Dangerous Cities? The Risks of the Urban Environment (1750-2000) 10
New Approaches to the Holocaust in Central and Eastern Europe 10
In or Out? History of Inclusion and Exclusion since 1900 10

Research Workshops, semester I

Research Workshop: Historical Sources and Questions in the Urban Arena 5
Research Workshop: Newspapers, Public Opinion and the Emergence of Mass Politics 5
Research Workshop: Sources in Global History 5
Stuff: Histories of Material Culture 5
Material Culture of Ancient Religion 5
Research Workshop: Primary Sources from the Third Reich and its Aftermath 5
Writing History in the Age of Mechanically Reproduced Art: The Photographer as Historian 5
Research Workshop: The Atlantic World: Knowledge, Power and Entrepreneurship 5

Literature Seminars, semester II

Debating Ancient Slavery 10
Current Debates in Medieval and Early Modern History II 10
Politics, Culture and National Identities, 1789 to the present 10
Literature Seminar Social History 10
Colonial Citizenship and Empire in Asia, 1780-1900 10

Research Seminars, semester II

Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants 10
Arsenal of Democracy?: The United States and the World since 1945 10
Religions of the North: Impact of the Roman Empire on Religion in the Northwestern Provinces 10
Through Dutch Soldiers’ Eyes: Diaries and Memoires on the Indonesian War of Independence, 1945-1949 10
Asian Events in Early Modern European Sources 10
Premodern Political Culture in Europe 10
A Life of Crime? Poverty, Illegality, and Making Do in the City, 1800-1930 10
Russia Revisited in War and Revolution (1914-1921) 10
Addressing Authority. The Politics of Petitioning 10
Global Memory Practices Since 1945 10

Research Workshops, semester II

Research Workshop: Greek and Latin Epigraphy (5 EC) 5
Sources in Intellectual History: Intellectuals and the State in Contemporary Culture Wars 5
Research Workshop: Historical Sources and Questions in the Urban Arena 5
*Research Workshop: Sources in Global History 5

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 Master programme in History (60 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 – you will pay specific attention to the development of theories on historical processes, historiography and methodology of historical research.



The History Master consists of the following specialisations:

Coordinator of Studies

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Career Preparation

Career Preparation in MA History

The programme

The curriculum of 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 analyze source materials. In our MA 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 MA History is the broadest and most international History MA in the Netherlands.

The MA History offers six specialisations. In each specialisation, students in the Leiden 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 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 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 the Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your Coordinator of Studies.