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Ancient History (MA)

About the programme

The one-year master’s programme in Ancient History covers a range of subjects. These include the complex history of the Roman Republic; civic life in Italy, Asia Minor and Egypt; Graeco-Roman religion; and the rise of Christianity.

All courses are taught by academics, who are also active researchers. The curriculum is regularly updated to reflect contemporary academic debates and the latest insights, while regular seminars inform students of our researchers' latest findings. And when it comes to doing your research thesis, this might well be linked to a research project of one our faculty members. They play active roles in every student’s education, serving as both mentors and community builders.

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 your programme.

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.

Optional Course
We also offer students the ability to take an Optional Course from a wide range of possibilities. These may comprise MA-courses offered by Leiden University and those offered by other universities. 

Thesis

You conclude the programme by writing a MA-thesis. Students are guided in writing their thesis by thesis supervisors. Students are also expected to follow a thesis seminar, aimed at providing students with some additional support in the writing process. Upon graduation students sit for a final ceremony for which they defend their thesis and answer questions on additional literature. 

  • Seminars
  • Self-study
  • Internship options
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, research papers
  • Oral presentations
  • Thesis

The one-year Master of Arts in History (study load 60 EC) aims to bring you state-of-the-art knowledge in your subject area of choice. You will pay specific attention to the analysis of historical process, the study of primary sources, conducting historical research, historiography and methodology.

The acquisition of advanced academic skills in the interpretation of texts and the analysis of complex conceptual problems, and the ability to independently conduct high-quality scientific research are key goals of the programme.

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 bear in mind that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may differ slightly.

Jordi Guardiola Cánaves

Why did Jordi choose to study Ancient History in Leiden?

Jordi Guardiola Cánaves

"One of the reasons for choosing the master’s programme in Ancient History at Leiden University was its long-standing tradition in the study of History."

A social history

"One of the reasons for choosing the master’s programme in Ancient History at Leiden University was its long-standing tradition in the study of History (the most used epigraphic system around the world is called Leiden Conventions). Moreover, I fell in love with the city as soon as I arrived. Nonetheless, what appealed to me most was the content of the courses, which focus on social history and the history of mentalities and religions, with a special interest in anthropological issues."

Methodologically effective

"I really liked how the courses were organised. They all revolved around the students’ exposition and discussion of the recommended texts, always with the guidance of the professors. I felt that this method enhanced our critical thinking and improved our presentation skills. I also valued the high level of autonomy and flexibility of the courses, which allowed me to combine the whole master’s programme with a part-time job in an international school."

Abilities to apply

"I intend to pursue a career in education. The master’s programme at Leiden University has made me realise how important it is for students to talk about History and to know that we can always reshape how we think about the past. Not only that, it has provided me with the confidence and independence to research and apply new techniques that may improve the quality of the learning process."

Rens Tacoma

Researcher and University Lecturer

Rens Tacoma

"In the Ancient History programme, we aim to let students thoroughly reflect on the scholarly literature in their essays, papers, and in discussions in class. We teach them to actively and critically engage with modern thinking and show them how they can confront modern arguments with ancient sources in a productive and meaningful way."

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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