Universiteit Leiden

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Arts and Culture (MA)

About the programme

Learn the newest insights from the researchers who uncover them.

Arts and Culture is an English-language master’s programme available to study full-time or part-time. Students choose from three specialisations:

  • Art, Architecture and Interior before 1800
  • Contemporary Art in a Global Perspective
  • Museums and Collections

The programme consists of 60 EC, to be completed in one year. Part-time students complete the programme in 1.5 years, with a course load of 20 EC per semester. Courses are scheduled during office hours.

The structure of the programme is as follows:

  • Practices and Debates (5 credits)
  • Two Research Seminars from Museums and Collections (20 credits)
  • Free Component (10 credits)
  • Thesis Seminar (5 credits)
  • Thesis (20 credits)

Requirements for graduation are:

  • Successful completion of courses, following the structure of the programme (40 EC)
  • Successful completion of an MA Thesis (20 EC)

You will need to complete at least 45 EC within your field of specialisation:

  • 2 Research seminars from Museums and Collections (20 credits);
  • Thesis seminar (5 EC);
  • Thesis (20 EC).
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Field trips/excursions
  • Internship options
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports and final thesis
  • Oral presentations

Throughout the master’s programme in Arts and Culture you will be able to take advantage of Leiden’s proximity to a network of major museums, collections, libraries and research schools, accessing a range of unique texts and works of art. These include:

  • The National Museum for Ethnology
  • The Museum for the History of Science
  • The National Museum of Antiquities
  • The Rijksmuseum
  • Museum Beelden aan zee in Scheveningen
  • Leiden University Library with its many special collections of prints, drawings and photography
  • Museum Voorlinden

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 essential skills in reasoning and critical thinking, as well as advanced abilities in independently conducting high-quality scientific research and developing this data 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.

Elizabeth den Hartog

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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