Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Study programme

When deciding what to study you undoubtedly read a lot of information about your study programme. Leiden University employs various systems to provide information about programmes and courses and to facilitate communication between lecturers and students.

The Prospectus contains information about all the courses within your study programme. Here you can find all you need to know about your programme. Via the online learning environment Brightspace you can communicate with your lecturers and submit assignments.

Programme information Research MA History


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 Department of History consists of several specialisations, each representing a specific approach to the study of history and has its specific historiographical traditions and methodological problems and possibilities.

For an overview of the specialisations within the research master's programme, see the Prospectus.

Components of the Research MA History

  • Literature Seminar (10 EC) 
    The introductory course of the research master is taught in the form of an intensive literature seminar, in which you will be given an outline of issues relevant to your specialisation. You will use secondary literature sources.
  • Research Seminar (20 EC) 
    You will follow two research seminars where you will carry out research on the basis of original source materials or published documents. Objective of this seminar is enhanced performance in the following areas: research skills, presentation skills, composition skills, and ability to evaluate the findings of other researchers. Each research seminar is worth 10 EC.
  • Historical Theory (10 EC) 
    This course discusses major problems in historical methodology and philosophy of history through close readings of relevant texts. Topics that will be addressed include explanations, models, intentions, representations, narratives, paradigms, comparisons, objectivity and irony.
  • Tutorial (10 EC) 
    The tutorial is meant to carefully plan and prepare the student to write his/her thesis, which has to be completed in the second year. 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.
  • Courses Research Schools (10 EC) 
    The national Research Schools (Landelijke Onderzoeksscholen) offer courses on both methodology and area specific knowledge. Many researchers in the Faculty of Humanities are members of a research school related to their area of expertise. Research Schools aim at collaboration of researchers from different faculties in the same university (interfaculty schools) or in different universities (interuniversity schools).
  • Research Skills (10 EC) 
    This course will focus on the development of your research skills. You will learn how to arrange academic research, from initial research question to publication/research proposal. Senior researchers will guide you through this trajectory, using their own ongoing research projects as guideline.
  • Optional courses (20 EC) Students have two possibilities to fill in the optional course space: MA courses may be followed or a research internship abroad for 20 EC. For those students not going abroad it will be obligatory to fill 10 EC of the optional course space with the course Classics. Next to this all courses offered at level 500 and up can be taken as ‘Optional Course’. These include the courses offered by the Department 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.
  • Classics (10 EC)
    This course introduces students to a number of influential historians and social theorists, who have had a great impact on the study of history. You will analyse in what ways these classics are incorporated in current research and explore their relevancy for your own field of research.
  • Thesis and exam (30 EC) 
    The Research Master’s Programme will be concluded by a thesis which will be based on original source research. The Research Master’s thesis plus examination is 30 EC. The level of the thesis will have to meet high standards. In principle, the (shortened) thesis will have to be worthy of publication in an academic journal. During the examination the student will have the opportunity to present his or her research results in ca. 10 minutes. On this thesis and on required reading, the student will then enter into a 40-minute debate with an examination committee consisting of the supervising professor and at least one other lecturer of the Institute for History with examination authority. 
    A student has to ask a thesis supervisor in the field of his/her specialisation. In the overview of staff, divided by specialisation, possible supervisors can be found.

Programme schedule

See the study diagram below for an overview of the Research MA programme: 

Your Individual Study Plan will be set up in consultation with the coordinator of studies, Mrs. Esther Buizer-Janssen

Europaeum Vaclav Havel MA Programme


The Europaeum Vaclav Havel Masters Programme (EMAP) was initiated by the Europaeum, an association consisting of ten leading European universities (www.europaeum.org). The partner universities have combined resources to provide selected students with a unique learning experience. This Research Masters Programme in European Society and Politics brings together the strengths and specialisms of all the partner institutions, to enable students to benefit from new lecturers, fresh modes and different perspectives, different specialisms and different European city locations, libraries, colleagues and other resources.


The EMAP will function as a two-year MA Programme in European Society and Politics, delivered over four semesters, specifically linking the fields of European Contemporary History, Politics, Socio-Legal and Socio-Geographic studies, and European International Relations. All successful EMAP students will have the chance to study at two - or more - Europaeum partner universities and will receive a final degree validated from their Home University, plus a Europaeum MA Certificate.

Leiden EMAP students will follow the regular programme of the Leiden Research Master in History in their first year. The third semester will be spent in one of the partner universities. At present those are Université Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Charles University (Prague). During this semester they will attend courses in the host university identified in conjunction with the Study advisor of the Research Master History and start research for their final thesis with the aid of a local supervisor. The fourth semester will be used to write the dissertation. This can be done at Leiden University, at the University where the third semester was spent, or, exceptionally, at another Partner University including the University of Oxford for a select group of students. The thesis will be supervised by an academic from Leiden University or by a ‘team’, one from Leiden University and one from the relevant other university.

All Europaeum Students will also attend a workshop in one of the participating universities at the start and end of their third semester where they can get to know their fellow students in the programme and those finishing up can present their work. The best Europaeum students also attend a three-day Europaeum Spring School at Oxford on Europe in a Global World, which includes a mix of debates and discussions, with graduates presenting their work. 

The entire new programme, involving lectures, graduate workshops and the MA, is named the VACLAV HAVEL PROGRAMME, after the former dissident and President of Czechoslovakia. 


All Research Master Students are in principle eligible for the programme. However as a maximum of six students can participate from each university, drawn from across the relevant disciplines, a selection process may be applied. The principal requirement for History students is a certain specialization in European History. If you are interested in becoming a Vaclav Havel scholar you can indicate your interest during the first semester of your studies as a research master student. There is therefore no need to apply separately for this programme in advance of your studies at Leiden University.

Those selected for the programme are ensured an Erasmus scholarship to their designated university and accommodation will be provided at local rates.

This website uses cookies.