Why study Classics and Ancient Civilizations at Leiden University
This master's programme distinguishes itself from similar programmes by consistently integrating Greek and Roman Antiquity, the world of the Hebrew Bible, ancient Judaism, emerging Christianity, Egypt (ancient, antique and late-antique) and the cuneiform cultures of Ancient Mesopotamia, into their broader context. The number of specialisations on offer at Leiden University is unparalleled.
The programme makes creative use of a wide range of research methods, all of them well-represented at Leiden University. Traditional philology with its intimate knowledge of languages and texts, while still indispensable, is enriched by literary studies, cultural history, and the analysis of material culture.
At Leiden, our master’s students are considered valued members of a close-knit academic community. Small classes, regular individual mentoring, and an informal, open-door policy create an environment that is ideal for the exchange of ideas and the development of your knowledge and intellectual abilities.
An important goal of the programme is to develop your ability to conduct high-quality scientific research using a wide variety of research methods. This is a particularly exciting field in which to conduct research, with different research sources opening up the possibility of completely fresh interpretations of the past. Many students conduct field research in a country abroad, visiting excavation sites, or participate in one of our department’s own research projects including excavations at Saqqara and the Dakhla Oasis.
Classics and Ancient Civilizations degree
Classics and Ancient Civilizations at Leiden University is an accredited degree programme. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a master’s degree in Classics and Ancient Civilizations and the title Master of Arts (MA).
Why Leiden University
Leiden University provides ambitious students with the most recent and innovative areas of knowledge, and offers them the freedom to develop their own area of expertise.
At Leiden University research and teaching are directly linked to each other and form an inspiring and intense study environment. Therefore, Leiden University's Faculty of Humanities consistently ranks in the top 30 Humanities faculties in the THE World University Rankings, and the Res(MA) Classics and Ancient Civilizations has been awarded the label Top Rated Programme by the Keuzegids 2018. The programme is also ranked 6th in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.
A unique programme
The Leiden University programme distinguishes itself from other similar research MA’s by offering expertise in the world of ancient Mesopotamia and Anatolia, Egypt (ancient, antique and late-antique), Greco-Roman Antiquity, the Hebrew Bible, ancient Judaism and emerging Christianity. The programme is unique in the Netherlands for its subject matter, the historical periods covered and the multidisciplinary approach of its study. The programme introduces a wide variety of research methods, including discourse analysis, intertextuality, narratology, rhetorical analysis, cognitive studies, etc.
Benefit from our extensive network
In the Classics and Ancient Civilizations programme you will learn from Leiden's top scholars, as well as experts from our extensive international network. You have the possibility of studying at institutions and universities abroad and within the Assyriology specialisation you will also be able to study courses at one of our partner universities – including Cambridge, Münster, and Heidelberg.
An excellent start to your career
Your qualification from Leiden University is respected by organisations worldwide. But that's not the only advantage of studying at Leiden. We challenge you to think and question more deeply, to challenge established wisdom and consider new perspectives, to apply what you learn to real-world situations. Our students learn how to become critical thinkers – a quality that will ensure they stand out in any future career.
The one-year (60 EC) master in Classics and Ancient Civilizations provides intensive and comprehensive training covering the entire range of present-day research on the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome and the Ancient Near East.
You may specialise in one of four specialisations:
Assyriology: in which you will study the rich history of ancient Mesopotamia.
Classics: where you can deepen your knowledge of the language and literatures of classical Greek and Latin.
Egyptology: in which you will develop your expertise in Ancient Egypt with a leading master’s programme.
Hebrew and Aramaic Studies: where you will study Classical Hebrew and the various Aramaic languages through their 3000-year history.
All MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations specialisations share the compulsory MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations Seminar that will train you in research methods and traditions of the various disciplines represented in Classics and Ancient Civilisations. Here, students of all specialisations will engage in discussions with fellows from neighbouring fields.
Internship + study abroad options
Peer feedback and assessment
Essays, reports and final thesis
Professor of Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity
"We all think we know how things are, or at least have preconceptions or - for the worse - prejudices. So I just confront students with "the obvious". Is this really what we can find in the sources? How far do they take us? Motivation comes from curiosity. So make students curious, and then you can see how they start thinking."
Preparing students for jobs
"We help our students prepare for the job market by teaching and coaching them. Make every student an expert in their field and coach them how to communicate and organise. If students understand that their field of study is not just an interesting academic discipline, but that they have something to tell which makes a difference in our societies, they will stand their ground."
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.”
Content is regularly updated to reflect contemporary academic debates and the very latest insights – many of them from the research conducted by lecturers on the programme. External lecturers are regularly invited to teach on specialised topics, for example, from the Forum Antiquum and the national research institute OIKOS. The academically-rigorous 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 scientific research and developing this data into an academic dissertation.
For a detailed programme, please 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.
The Classics and Ancient Civilizations programme offers many extracurricular opportunities to enrich your study experience.
Pleyte study association
Pleyte is a study association of the BA in Ancient Near East Studies and the MA in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (specializations Assyriology, Egyptology and Hebrew and Aramaic Studies). Pleyte organizes both informative and social activities, such as monthly drinks with fellow students, film nights, lectures by teachers and students, ‘make your own cuneiform tablet’ workshops and much more. Pleyte is a great way to get to know your fellow students and teachers outside of the academic setting of classes or the library.
Sophia Aeterna study association
Sophia Aeterna is the study association of the BA in Classics and the (Research) MA in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (specialization Classics). We form the connection between the students, teachers and alumni. Sophia Aeterna organises different activities, both study-related and social. We organise lectures for more knowledge about our discipline. We also organise social activities, like drinks, movie nights, a barbecue at the end of the year and much more, to get to know your fellow students and teachers outside the library and the lectures. When you become a member, you will learn a lot of things and make many new friends!
MA students from the Classics and Ancient Civilizations (and research) programme can participate in research activities of the Ancient Worlds Network Leiden, which brings together staff and graduate students in the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) and the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR) working on the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world. Expertise covers a wide range of areas and disciplines, including the study of Ancient Arabia, Assyriology, Coptic Studies, Egyptology, Hebrew and Aramaic Studies, ancient Iranian Studies, Papyrology, linguistics, the study of religions, and the history of philosophy and science. For more information, please visit the Ancient Worlds Network.
Other extracurricular opportunities
International archaeological field school and excavation
As a Classics and Ancient Civilizations (Research) student you will be invited to take part in an international archaeological field school and excavation on the Lake of Galilee co-organised by Leiden University.
Dutch National Museum of Antiquities
Many of our students have done internships at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. The museum hosts exhibitions, conferences, and public events on the ancient world, including Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Ex Oriente Lux lectures and events Ex Oriente Lux is an association that promotes the Ancient Near East among a general public. It organises regular lectures and other events in Leiden and many other Dutch and Flemish cities.
Forum Antiquum lecture series Forum Antiquum is the lecture series of the Classics department. Lectures are organized every other week during the semester on Thursdays. Every semester, we invite a number of national and international speakers: both well-known experts and promising young researchers.
Leiden Leadership Programme
Are you interested in developing your leadership potential? The Leiden Leadership Programme (LLP) is an Honours Programme specifically developed for ambitious master's students at Leiden University and the Delft University of Technology who recognise the importance of leadership abilities. The LLP offers in-depth training sessions, assessments, seminars, and the creation of a Personal Leadership Roadmap – a five-year plan for reaching and developing your leadership potential.
Create a world of opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University
Our graduates end up working in a diverse range of positions, examples include:
Policy officer for education
Conservator of classical antiquity at a museum
Education officer at a museum
PhD candidate at a university
Research analyst at a consultancy firm
Teacher of classical languages at a secondary school
Teacher at an institute for special needs education
Policy officer at the provincial department of a political party
Chief desk editor at a publishing house
As a graduate of an MA in Classics and Ancient Civilizations at Leiden University you are qualified to work as a junior academic researcher in an academic environment or carry out further research work on a PhD programme. It is also possible to find employment within the fields of publishing or teaching, at policy-making departments of governmental bodies, within the education sector, or within cultural tourism.
A Leiden University degree
Leiden University master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.
Graduated in Egyptology (MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations)
"Immediately after graduating, I was hired by the University of Arizona as a research specialist with the Egyptian Expedition for a one year period. In this position, I have been working on the final publication for the Tausret temple site, while living in Luxor for several months overseeing the construction of our new research facility."
"I have also co-directed an undergraduate student tour in Egypt, taught a few outreach classes, and participated as a staff member on an archaeological excavation in Sudan along the third cataract. In the fall, I will be joining Johns Hopkins University as a funded PhD student in Egyptology. I look forward to this next step in my career, and I am thankful for the opportunities presented to me by the Egyptology Programme at Leiden University."
Experience in Egypt
"I chose the Leiden University Egyptology master’s programme because I was excited to find a programme that offers real experience in Egypt and that has a strong tradition in language. The Cairo semester is really the jewel of the Leiden Egyptology programme. It gives you the opportunity to conduct original research in Egypt, as well as to connect with professionals in the field, from around the world. Living in Egypt for two months and working with the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, is an opportunity not given to many master’s students. The Cairo semester is an invaluable experience that has made my time at Leiden meaningful."
Our goal is to prepare you to make a difference in your future career.
Knowledge and skills
The development of in-depth knowledge in the field and the ability to think critically and analytically are key goals of this programme. The Classics and Ancient Civilizations programme introduces you to the concepts and academic approaches current in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, including disciplines such as: linguistics, history, religious studies or material culture studies.
You will learn to use these concepts and approaches in researching and analysing source material. Your thesis gives you the opportunity to apply these methods in your own research.
We also provide opportunities for students to broaden their experience and professional skills in preparation to excel early in their chosen career. Many of our students choose to do an internship during their study. Internships are a great way to gain invaluable first-hand experience in your area of interest before you decide on making it a career. Our students have done internships at, among others:
the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities;
the Netherlands Institute of the Near East (NINO);
The programme unit of Classics and Ancient Civilizations organises an alumni reunion every spring.
Humanities Career Service
Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.
Humanities Career Event
Each year, the Faculty of Humanities organises a Humanities Careers Event. This all-day event is your chance to learn everything you can about how to find the job you want and successfully attain it. The event includes workshops on a wide range of topics as well as opportunities to network with alumni and potential employers and attain tips, information and potential job leads.
Check out the video of the Humanities Career Event 2017!
Admission and Application
We invite motivated students from around the world to apply for the Master of Arts in Classics and Ancient Civilizations. Admission requirements may vary per specialisation, please visit the specialisation of your interest to find out more about the entry requirements.
Your time at Leiden is about more than just studying. Some of your best experiences will stem from being a part of our lively and diverse student community, as well as from life in the beautiful city of Leiden.
Life in Leiden
Picturesque and the perfect size, Leiden is the ideal place to spend your university days. The Faculty of Humanities is located within the heart of the city, where dozens of cafes, shops and bars line its historic laneways and leafy canals. Small enough to run into familiar faces, but big enough to keep offering surprises – you will treasure your time at Leiden. And for adventures further afield, the major cities of The Hague and Amsterdam are a short train ride away, along with Schiphol Airport, which is just half an hour away by train.
Our study and student associations organise a huge variety of social, cultural, and study events to keep you busy all year round. You can also join the University Sports Centre, which offers scheduled group sports and fitness classes, amongst other activities.
Welcome and orientation programme
In August and February each year, Leiden University hosts the English-language Orientation Week Leiden (OWL), which welcomes both international and Dutch students. The OWL is an excellent way to get to know Leiden University, the city, and other students.
Leiden University’s Faculty of Humanities has a number of study associations run by students and related to a particular department or programme. Study associations organise social activities such as informal gatherings, sports events, and parties, as well as study-related activities such as excursions and study trips.
The study associations related to Classics and Ancient Civilisations are:
Leiden has several student organisations that specifically cater for international students. These associations organise regular social events and activities that help create the strong sense of community that exists within our international student body. The main two organisations are:
International Student Network (ISN) ISN Leiden is an international student organisation which hosts a range of activities and programmes. They also have a buddy programme which provides new students with the right support to assimilate into Leiden and the university.
AEGEE Leiden AEGEE is a leading European student association with sister organisations in over 40 countries across Europe. AEGEE organises many activities in Leiden, from dinners and pool nights to boat trips and guest lectures.
The Humanities Master’s Buddy Programme has been set up by the Faculty of Humanities to help all students who are new to the university to integrate quickly and easily into university life. Through the programme you will learn everything you need to know about the university, the student community, and the practical side of life in Leiden.
Come and meet us at the Leiden University Master’s Open Day!
About our Master’s Open Day
Are you thinking about joining a master’s programme at Leiden University? Come and visit our Master’s Open Day! This event is your opportunity to learn everything you need to know about our master’s programmes and how they can help you reach your goals. Attend presentations, meet our lecturers, learn about the careers of our alumni and hear first-hand the experiences of students and graduates on life at Leiden University.
If you have a question, there are various ways to get in touch with us.