Universiteit Leiden

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Colonial and Global History (research) (MA)

About the programme

During the two-year Colonial and Global History programme you will learn from inspired academics and learn how to conduct quality research.

The programme includes a number of courses enabling you to acquire a better understanding of theories on historical processes, historical debates and methodology of historical research. In the first semester, you will follow a course in historical methodology, in the second semester a course in research skills. Both courses are taught by first-rate instructors and address problems and issues highly relevant throughout your study.

Literature Seminar

The programme starts with an intensive Literature Seminar, which covers the first 8 weeks of the semester. During this course you will discuss recent insights and key issues within the field of Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence.

Research Seminars

You will take two Research Seminars during which you will carry out research on the basis of primary source material or published documents. You will take one Research Seminar during the first semester. The second Research Seminar may be taken during the second semester, or abroad during the third semester.

Historical Theory

This course is compulsory for all Research MA students. It discusses major problems in historical theory or philosophy of history through close readings of relevant texts. Topics that will be addressed include explanations, models, intentions, representations, narratives, paradigms, comparisons, objectivity, and ethics.

Tutorial

The tutorial is the mainstay of our Research MA as it offers intensive, eye-to-eye discussions with one of Leiden’s many specialists. During the tutorial you will explore the field and determine the subject and research question of your thesis.

Courses Research Schools

Within the Research MA History, students are required to take courses at a Research School, amounting to at least 10 EC. You will compose this set of courses yourself, together with the Coordinator of Studies. Research Schools courses offer training in both methodology and area specific knowledge. Research MA students choose courses at the Research School that relates most with their possible area of research.

Developing Research Proposals

This course is also compulsory for all Research MA students. It will focus on the development of your research skills. You will learn how to arrange academic research, from initial research question to publication/research proposal. Senior researchers will guide you through this process, using their own ongoing research projects as guideline.

Optional Courses

You will also take a number of Optional Courses, worth up to a total of 20 EC. We encourage students to take these courses abroad. However, you are also able to fill in this Optional Course space with a multitude of options. See the e-Prospectus for more information.

Thesis

You conclude the programme by writing a Research MA-thesis. Students are guided in writing their thesis by thesis supervisors. Upon graduation students sit for a final ceremony for which they defend their thesis and answer questions on additional literature. 

To achieve the appropriate level (B2) for reading Dutch primary sources, the Leiden Academic Language Centre offers three intensive language courses (4 lessons a week; approximately 8 ecs per course). These extra-curricular courses start every year in September, January, and April to finish in June. If you would start with the summer school, though, you may even finish before April. For more details, see the Academic Language Centre’s website. For a suitable integration of these courses into the Research Master Programme, please contact the co-ordinator Colonial and Global History.

The main aim of the programme is to ensure that after graduation, you will be able to function as a junior academic researcher, either in a semi-academic position or at a university. You will be able to solve complex academic problems independently, critically and creatively, and report on these results with clarity both in writing and verbally. The programme qualifies you to continue your studies in a PhD studentship.

  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Internship options
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports and final thesis
  • Oral presentations

Prof.dr. Gert Oostindie

Professor

Prof.dr. Gert Oostindie

“What I find to be really good of the program and its staff as a whole is the combination of expertise in global history writ large and the various specializations in regions (Asian, African, Atlantic), periods (ranging from pre-modern via early modern to post-Second World War and contemporary) and themes (slavery, economic networks, migration and ethnicity, and so on). Both for teaching and research, the proximity of world-class libraries (in Leiden) and archives (in Leiden and the Hague) is absolutely fantastic.”

Public debates

"The least any professor of History can do beyond simply teaching students the methods, contents and ethics of the discipline is to help them reflect on why all of this might be helpful for understanding not simply the past, but also the present. As a frequent contributor to the mass media I feel historians have something substantial to add to public debates and in my teaching I do attempt to stimulate my students to think about this, and to develop the requisite skills."

Comparative history

"My research requires me to reflect not simply on Dutch colonialism and what the subsequent decolonisation meant in the many places around the globe where Dutch colonialism left an imprint, but equally on the impact of this history including the postcolonial migrations in the wake of decolonisation on the Netherlands itself. None of this can be properly understood if we only look at the Dutch case, hence the need for comparative history. For me, this is where all my research and writing is all about, and this is what I try to get across to my students as well: find out for yourself how this history continues to have a huge impact, today."

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.”

Latest knowledge

All courses are taught by academics who are active researchers. The curriculum is regularly updated to reflect contemporary academic debates and the very latest insights. Regular seminars are held presenting students with our researchers' latest findings. Your research thesis is often linked to one of the research projects of our faculty members, who play an active role in every individual's education, acting as mentors and community builders.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, see 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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