Universiteit Leiden

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Arts, Media and Society (BA)

Study programme

The Arts, Media and Society specialisation will let you explore some of the most pressing issues in today’s society, as seen from the many perspectives offered by art, artists, and (digital) media.

What you will learn

This three-year, English-taught Arts, Media and Society programme is a specialisation of the Leiden University’s Art History programme, which means that the first-year introductory courses are jointly offered to Arts, Media and Society students and Art History students. In the second and third year, you will explore a wide variety of contemporary cultural manifestations, ranging from artist collectives and community art to 3d printing, games and protest art, all of which you will learn to place in an art-historical context. You will also gain in-depth knowledge of new developments in contemporary arts and media forms, as well as the cultural roles that the arts and media play in today’s society.

Learn academic and professional skills

You will also be taught academic and professional skills. These include a wide variety of competences such as academic writing, presentations, research, working in teams, communication. Many of those skills are highly sought after by employers and will be of use to you in your further career.

Some of the courses in short

How the World Makes Art

Art is universal for all human beings. People have expressed their dreams, hopes and fears in paintings, sculptures and drawings everywhere on earth and in every period in history. Art has always been used to influence its beholders: to impress them, to evoke feelings of love and admiration or to express social, political and religious values and identities. In this introductory course, we will look at art using four guiding themes: power, religion, identity and the afterlife.

Arts in Society

From ancient practices of performances, to art as a political and societal activist tool in the 21st century: art and society have always been interconnected. In this course, you will focus on the various interactions between art and politics, art and religion, and art and technology in ancient as well as in modern societies. This will be studied from the perspective of various themes, including the art market, feminism, memory, body, race and ecology.

Big Media

Television, games, the visual arts, literature and the Internet can be regarded as major forces in western contemporary society. In this course we will discuss the social and cultural implications of the introduction and advance of (new) media. As part of this course, you will research the changing context for these media, and how they influence our views on art, popular culture, power and aesthetics.

Museums, Cultural Heritage and Collections

The central theme of this course is the collection, presentation, conservation and management of cultural heritage, both in the past and the present and in a national and international context. Among many other things, you will gain an appreciation of how and why collections are assembled and an insight into how they are made accessible to the public.

World Art Studies

In this course you will develop a sense of the visual arts across both space and time. You will also learn how to identify the key questions that should be asked when analysing art as a worldwide phenomenon. Moreover, you will learn to understand the similarities and cultural differences in the creation, use, and perception of art across the world.

AMS on Site, Curating the City

In this course, the urban environment will serve as both the site of our work and the object of our critical reflection. This course aims to anticipate the most pressing issues that are shaping (and will continue to shape) contemporary, globalised, curated cities. As part of a team of students, you will explore a subtheme that relates to 'Curating the City'. Your team will develop a framework and a research question that you will investigate in a (partly) out-of-the-classroom setting, from the multiple angels of art, media and society.

Electives, internship and thesis

The third year offers you the flexibility to pursue your interests. You can either follow electives or a minor from another programme in Leiden, do an internship in the Netherlands or abroad, or study abroad at a university in our network. Our Career Services can support you in finding a position as an intern.

You will only have to take one seminar in this year. Depending on your interests and study planning, you can follow this course in the first or the second semester. To conclude the programme you will write a thesis, choosing your own topic on the basis of your chosen seminar’s theme.

Detailed programme

See below for an overview of the curriculum. For a detailed description of the courses, please check the Prospectus. Please note that this Prospectus applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

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Leiden University offers you the opportunity to tailor your programme in such a way that it suits your own interests and ambitions.

During the third year, you can go for a minor, several elective courses in Leiden or at other universities in the Netherlands or abroad. You could also opt to do an internship, or to study a semester at an international university.


A minor is a cohesive set of courses on a specific theme or subject. You can take a minor at the Faculty of Humanities or at another Faculty. The minor will help you gain in-depth knowledge on a certain subject, method or discipline. Examples of minors offered at Leiden’s Faculty of Humanities are:

  • Cultural Memory of War and Conflict
  • Game Studies and Cultural Analysis
  • Gender and Sexuality in Society and Culture

Internship, the first step towards a job

An internship is an ideal way to find out what really interests you and what kind of job would suit you. You can explore, for example, the sector in which you would like to be employed, or the kind of work you would like to do. Thinking about these issues during your studies will allow you to chart a more accurate course for the direction you want your career to take later on. An internship will give you work experience, additional skills and valuable network contacts. You could do an internship in, for instance, a museum, art gallery, education, a publishing agency, an NGO or in the public sector. Our Career Services can help you find a suitable position.

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