Universiteit Leiden

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Arts, Media and Society (BA)

Study programme

The Arts, Media and Society bachelor’s programme will let you explore the most pressing of issues in society, from the many perspectives offered by art, artists, and (digital) media. It will also enable you to understand the influence and relevance of the role that arts and the media play in today’s society.

Programme outline

As a three-year, English-taught specialisation of Leiden University’s Art History programme, Arts, Media and Society is a bachelor’s programme in its own right. In it you’ll explore a wide variety of contemporary cultural manifestations, ranging from photography to biohacking and from games to protest art, all of which you’ll learn to place in an art-historical perspective. You’ll 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.

Some of the courses

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 at any 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 through four guiding themes: power, religion, identity and the afterlife.  

Arts in Society

From ancient practices of performances, to art as political and societal activist instrument in the 21st century: the interactions between art and society have always been intertwined. In this course, we will focus on the various interactions between art & politics, art & religion, and art & technology in ancient and modern societies. This will help us to understand the specific characteristics, risks, chances and challenges related to our contemporary society.

Big Media

Television, games, the visual arts, literature and the Internet can all be viewed 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. We will research the changing landscape in which such media can be situated, and how this influences our notions of 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, students will gain an appreciation of how and why collections are assembled and an insight into how they are made accessible.

World Art Studies

With regard to how we study the global phenomenon of art, students will learn to develop a sense of the visual arts across both space and time, identify the key questions to be addressed when analysing art as a worldwide phenomenon and understand the similarities and cultural differences in the creation, use, and perception of art across the world.

A.M.S. in Theory and Practice

In this course students will bring theories and approaches to the arts, media and society in touch with the real world. Fieldwork-based - rather than the lecturer presenting facts, theories, or knowledge - students will be expected to actively engage with a theme by investigating a research topic.

Year 3

Detailed programme

Below you can find an overview of the curriculum. For a detailed description of the courses, 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.

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Leiden University allows you to adapt your programme as much as possible to suit your own interests and ambitions.

You can create a personal package of elective courses that will satisfy your curiosity, or enrich or expand your knowledge of Arts, Media and Society. Alternatively, you can decide to follow courses at other universities in the Netherlands or abroad.


A minor is a fixed package, consisting of different courses on one theme or subject. It will help you gain in depth knowledge in a certain subject, method or discipline. Examples of minors offered at Leiden University 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, as well as an excellent vehicle on which to find out whether the kind of job that appeals to you will also suit you. Consider, for example, the sector in which you want to work, or the kind of work that you want to do. Thinking about these things 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. What’s more, the work experience that you’ll acquire during an internship will be at the appropriate level of your study programme.

Different types of internships

Depending on your study programme, specialisation and personal preferences, you can choose from several different internships. Some of these will seamlessly match the field of specialisation of your study programme, others will mainly require that you use your communication and/or analytical skills. There are internships, for example, in institutions such as museums, galleries, education, publishing agencies, NGOs, or in government.

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