Universiteit Leiden

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Arts, Media and Society (BA)

About the programme

The Arts, Media and Society programme in its introductory year will give you a sound foundation of core knowledge about modern and contemporary art and art history. You will also start developing your academic skills. In the second and third year, you will explore the impact that that art has on society and the role that media has played both in the past and the present. During these two years, the focus will be on contemporary art and media. In years two and three you will have elective options, allowing you to tailor the programme according to your interests. These electives include following a minor, studying abroad at another Dutch or international university and doing an internship.

Study art’s response to societal challenges

In this multidisciplinary bachelor programme, you will engage with modern and global contemporary art, while also gaining basic knowledge about the history of European art. You will explore how artists in the past and present have responded to societal issues and how their practice has been affected by the media of their time. such as global warming, racial discrimination or social inequality. Much of the teaching is based on research projects that our staff is engaged in, and you will be invited to participate in some of these projects and will take the first steps in how to develop your own research interests.

Multidisciplinary programme

In its outlook on media and society, the programme is multidisciplinary in nature and features courses such as Big Media, How the World make Art, Curating Cultures, World Art Studies, Activism and Sensing Style. Some of the disciplines included in these courses are Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Museum Studies, Digital Humanities, as well as sociological and anthropological approaches.

Some of the distinguishing features of Arts, Media and Society

  • Interactive teaching: You will gain knowledge about contemporary art, while you will also carry out activities like making videos and podcasts, doing practice-based research and design an (online) art exhibition. Also, you will engage in field trips and excursions.
  • Extracurricular lectures by artists, designers and creatives about their work and their views on art and media in today’s society.
  • International environment: you will meet students, researchers and lecturers from all over the world, which will reinforce your awareness about global issues and will prepare you for working in an international setting.

Programme overview

During the first semester of year one you will take several courses, including How the World Makes Art, Big Media and Arts in Society, equipping you with a strong foundation in art history. During the second semester you will build on this foundation to develop basic academic skills such as researching, processing and critically assessing information, writing and oral presentation.

During the two semesters of year two you will further explore the impact that art and media have on society, while studying their many interactions. You will study, for instance, the increasingly important role that Instagram plays for museums when presenting their collection to a wider audience and how this medium can add new meaning to existing works of art. In the second year, year you will have the option of exploring your own interests by choosing one of two specialised seminars. During the second semester, the course work will be complemented by field work on the theory and practice of arts, media and society. Our Curating the City course, for instance, includes an on-site assignment.

In your third year you will be able to tailor the programme to your specific interests. For both semesters you will have 15 credit points worth of free space: you can either study at a university in the Netherlands or abroad, you can take a minor according to your interests or you can do an internship, gaining valuable work experience. You will also work on deepening your understanding of how art, media and society intersect and interact with one another. Your final thesis will give you the chance to demonstrate the knowledge and insights you acquired and will require you to use your skills for critical analysis.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, please check the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Wakana Kaitani


Wakana Kaitani

"I thought university would be cramming knowledge, but it was definitely not just that. The first year was indeed building a basis of theoretical and art historical knowledge, but in the second year we are expected to use this knowledge and apply it to case studies. I feel like the first year prepared me really well to gradually move forward in my studies."

Anna Loh


Anna Loh

"AMS offers more than the traditional art historical education: it teaches you how to look at art through different lenses, like postcolonialism and gender studies, and philosophical perspectives. I really enjoyed this multidisciplinarity and breadth of the programme, which made me very perceptive to both contemporary art practices and the ways in which I approach the world in more trivial settings. The programme helped me form my own opinions and express them openly, engaging in meaningful exchanges with others both in and outside the academic classroom, which prepared me really well for my discussion-based master’s programme."

Robert Zwijnenberg

Professor of Art and Science Interactions

Robert Zwijnenberg

"My students are strongly engaged with current issues. While giving lectures and debating with them they also teach me a lot, which means I’m continuously developing my own opinion. But this is hardly surprising, given that we have many international students here from many different countries, each with their own opinion. Thanks to this diversity in cultural backgrounds I often gain new insights myself, which is why I love the input I get from my students! Teaching them keeps me on my toes and my mind on the job."

Anna tells you everything about the Arts, Media and Society programme

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Study load

The Arts, Media and Society programme takes a full working week of about 40 hours. This includes an average of 15 hours for lectures and tutorials. The remainder will be spent on independent study.

Educational methods

The programme includes lectures and tutorials, as well as individual and group assignments. In lectures, the lecturer discusses specific topics, which are further elaborated upon in tutorials with a small group of students. During tutorials you will participate in group discussions and work on individual or group assignments.

Student support

Do you need support during your study? We make sure to offer our students the support they need. A mentor will be at hand to offer the help or advice that you need.

Should you have any questions about the programme, our coordinator of studies is available to provide advice or help you make practical arrangements if needed.

Apart from study advice, we offer many more support services. Our Career Services can help you arrange a study abroad or find an internship position.

In case of psychological issues, a university psychologist can be consulted. In the event of chronic illness, dyslexia or a physical or psychological disability, you can contact the university’s Fenestra Disability Centre.

The POPcorner is an accessible study support point with locations in Leiden and The Hague, focused on creating an inclusive and diverse learning environment. As well as organising POPtalks on D&I related topics, the POPcorner helps students develop study skills through workshops, create social and support networks, establish personal and academic goals, and connect them with university resources and services.

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