Universiteit Leiden

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Heritage and Society (BA)

Programme structure

Study all aspects of cultural heritage from an archaeological prespective.

Programme outline

As a first year bachelor's student you will follow a number of general courses, laying the foundation of the knowledge and general skills that every heritage expert needs.

The general courses in the second year focus on, for example, the deep history of humanity, as well as the archaeology of empire and early globalisation. The remainder of your programme consists of subjects from your specialisation in Heritage and Society.

First year's programme

In the first year you will follow courses on heritage preservation, and the introduction to archaeology and landscape. You will also obtain your first excavation skills.

Your first year consists of the following courses:

Course EC
Introduction to Heritage Studies 10
Masterial Studies 5
Past and Future 5
World Archaeology 15
Landscape Dynamics 10
Exploratory Data Analysis in Archaeology 5
Field Techniques 5
Field School 1 5


Some courses in the spotlights

Introduction to Heritage Studies

This course is an introduction to the themes and methods of critical heritage studies as an interdisciplinary field of study. It introduces what cultural heritage is, how it is managed, and questions of who shapes and controls heritage and for what purpose.

Past and Future

During this course we introduce you to what archaeology was, what archaeology is, and – most importantly – what archaeology can be.
We will guide you through the history of archaeology, some of the very first excavations, and the reasons for the emergence of the field. We will meet some famous archaeologists and walk you through the main theoretical developments that the field has seen.
Mostly, we aim to demonstrate how archaeology is involved in politics, and how it is an important voice in tackling today’s societal challenges. We explicitly connect our modern existential challenges – think of inequality, climate change, cultural conflicts – with our long-term, dynamic human experience, known as the past.

Material studies

In this course you will get acquainted with the nature and physical properties of different materials and will acquire a basic understanding of the different production processes through which those artefacts were made.

Museums and Collections: A Practical Introduction

Museum collections are heterogeneous assemblages, that were brought together in many different ways. In this course, you will learn more about how collections are formed, how they are classified in museums, and the considerations involved in decision-making processes for exhibitions.

Special focus will lie on so-called ‘orphaned’ or legacy collections: those collections that are no longer cared for by curators and languish in storage without any form of attention by researchers and academics.

Heritage Protection in the 21st Century

This course explores the institutional practices surrounding (archaeological) heritage protection. The main goal is to gain an understanding of (archaeological) heritage protection from a practical perspective. The focus will be on the Netherlands, but we will also include the international context and perspective.

Archaeological Theory

In this challenging course we discuss the development and use of archaeological theory. Rather than presenting the development of archaeological thought as linear (and implicitly progressive), we will delve into the pros and cons of different ways of approaching archaeological evidence by reading first-hand literature and practice in different case studies.

Science Communication: Archaeology in the 21st Century

During this course you will learn how we communicate the past and research about the past to a variety of audiences including, but not limited to, other academics, journalists, kids, and the wider public.

We will discuss science communication practices related to social media, press releases, video content, podcasts, scientific writing for the public, as well as interdisciplinary academic communication and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Want to know more?

Check out the Prospectus for Heritage and Society for detailed information about the courses. Please note that this is the course overview for the current year.

Elective options

A minor is a related, logical package of subjects. A well-chosen  minor allows you to broaden your knowledge, insights and skills and to apply your experiences in your chosen field. Choosing the right minor also gives you the opportunity to prepare for the master's that you want to take after your bachelor's, so that you can increase the likelihood of gaining a place in the master's you would like to follow.

Spending some time abroad is a great opportunity to expand your horizon. You can go abroad in search of specific, specialist knowledge that is not available in Leiden.
On a personal level you will learn many skills that are also useful when verturing onto the job market, whether it's being creative in finding solutions, or learning a foreign language. On the current job market, an international mindset a highly sought-after commodity.

What will it be: England, France, Italy or another exciting place?

More about studying abroad

At the Faculty of Archaeology, internships are mandatory parts of the programme, and can take many forms.

Internships consist of fieldwork in the Netherlands or abroad, but the options are not limited to excavating. You can also arrange an internship in a museum, a laboratory, agency, or city council, according to your interests, specialisations, and the type of work you would like to do after your studies.

More about Archaeology internships

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