Universiteit Leiden

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Arts and Culture (research) (MA)

About the programme

Learn the newest insights from the researchers who uncover them.

The master’s programme in Arts and Culture (Research) is closely connected to the Literary Studies (Research) master.

Semester 1
The first semester starts with the LUCAS Seminar Cultural Theory for the 21st Century, which offers an overview of theoretical approaches developed in this MA programme, and of the research interests of the staff. It is compulsory for all students in the Research MA programmes in Arts and Culture and Literary Studies.. Parallel to this course you choose an interdisciplinary (period-bound) and a disciplinary seminar (in one of the domains).

Semester 2
Whereas the first semester presented a basic and disciplinary course for art history students, the second semester offers the interdisciplinary framework via the course Methodological Concepts in Art and Literature. This semester also contains an interdisciplinary (period-bound) and a disciplinary seminar.

Research School course
In the first year – preferably in the first semester – you are obliged to take a 5 ec course within one of the national research schools.

Semester 3
The third semester offers an obligatory thesis seminar and research colloquium, which prepares you for writing your thesis. You again take two elective seminars. You can also opt to follow these electives at a university abroad or choose to do an internship in an affiliated Department, Museum, or other cultural institution in Europe or the United States. We have Erasmus and other exchange agreements with many European and American Universities.

Semester 4
The fourth semester is largely filled by writing your research master’s thesis. In the second year – preferably in the second semester – the students are again obliged to take a 5 ec course within one of the national research schools of their choice.

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Internship /study abroad options
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports
  • Oral presentations
  • Final thesis

The Arts and Culture (Research) programme has three main objectives:

  • The programme will provide you with a shared methodological and theoretical basis;
  • It will allow you to acquire sophisticated knowledge and technical expertise on Art History in your chosen domain;
  • The programme will train you as an independent researcher.

Latest Research

All courses are taught by academics who are active researchers. Content is regularly updated to reflect contemporary academic debates and the very latest insights – in particular from the research conducted by lecturers on the programme.

The design of the programme aims to develop in you essential skills in reasoning and critical thinking, as well as advanced abilities in independently conducting high-quality research and developing this research into an academic dissertation.

Detailed programme

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

Stijn Bussels

Researcher and University Lecturer

Stijn Bussels

"We are strongly convinced that excellent art and architectural study has to start from a thorough visual analysis of the object and further has to be carefully contextualised in its time and place with the help of an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore we have close connections with the leading international academic and cultural institutions."

Elizabeth den Hartog

Researcher and University Lecturer

Elizabeth den Hartog

"The MA in Arts and Culture curriculum offers students a series of very varied courses that explore subject areas including the theoretical aspects of art, how art has functioned and functions in society, how art, art works, artists and architects travelled, the interaction between the arts and literature, and the materiality of art. Our location in the Netherlands is ideal for a master's in Arts and Culture because we are surrounded by world-renowned historic and contemporary art, which enables us to offer a truly hands-on approach to learning."

Developing critical-thinking skills

"We turn our students into critical thinkers by giving them autonomous research assignments on self-chosen subjects about which they must reflect, form ideas, and debate with fellow students and peers. Our students are encouraged to question assumptions, which helps them develop critical-thinking skills."

Deciphering iconography

"My specific field of interest is the interaction between architecture, art and the viewer in the medieval and early modern period. I love going into a medieval church with my students, deciphering the iconography and working out how the church would have looked in the medieval period, looking for traces of removed art works, altars and the like."  

“Time has taught us that solutions to social problems do not lie in technology, but in human potential. Technological solutions are essential, but so is the significance people attribute to this information through culture or language. Experience shows us that research within the humanities and social sciences often provides these solutions. This is why the research conducted by our humanities faculty is so highly relevant and important. I am very proud of the fact that Leiden University’s Faculty of Humanities is one of the world’s leading faculties in the field.”

Broad and relevant research:

“One of this faculty’s strengths is how incredibly broad it is. We conduct a wealth of relevant research in so many different fields and disciplines. We have egyptologists working on excavation sites in Saqqara and the Dakhla Oasis. We have linguists who are documenting, for the first time, languages that are spoken by vast numbers of people in the world today; others creating computer simulations of language acquisition by the brain. The extent and variety of the activity going on is tremendous.”

A stimulating environment

“When you join Leiden’s Faculty of Humanities you are joining a community of passionate, stimulated and ambitious students and staff from all over the world. Our academic environment is known for being conducive to interaction between individuals of all standing: at Leiden even the most junior researcher is treated as a valuable member of the community with important opinions to share. You also gain access to truly unique resources found nowhere else in the world, such as our famous collections at the University Library. Our lecturers and support staff are committed to your success, both now and in the future, and offer you the tools needed to develop into a critically-minded professional who can truly make a difference to the world.”

Mirjam de Baar

Vice-dean

Mirjam de Baar

“Time has taught us that solutions to social problems do not lie in technology, but in human potential. Technological solutions are essential, but so is the significance people attribute to this information through culture or language. Experience shows us that research within the humanities and social sciences often provides these solutions. This is why the research conducted by our humanities faculty is so highly relevant and important. I am very proud of the fact that Leiden University’s Faculty of Humanities is one of the world’s leading faculties in the field.”

Broad and relevant research:

“One of this faculty’s strengths is how incredibly broad it is. We conduct a wealth of relevant research in so many different fields and disciplines. We have egyptologists working on excavation sites in Saqqara and the Dakhla Oasis. We have linguists who are documenting, for the first time, languages that are spoken by vast numbers of people in the world today; others creating computer simulations of language acquisition by the brain. The extent and variety of the activity going on is tremendous.”

A stimulating environment

“When you join Leiden’s Faculty of Humanities you are joining a community of passionate, stimulated and ambitious students and staff from all over the world. Our academic environment is known for being conducive to interaction between individuals of all standing: at Leiden even the most junior researcher is treated as a valuable member of the community with important opinions to share. You also gain access to truly unique resources found nowhere else in the world, such as our famous collections at the University Library. Our lecturers and support staff are committed to your success, both now and in the future, and offer you the tools needed to develop into a critically-minded professional who can truly make a difference to the world.”

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