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Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence (MA)

Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence general programme

This specialisation is focused on urbanisation, migration and economic development in a global and comparative context.

Its central question is: how did people’s lives in the past half millennium change,  by processes of urbanisation, increased mobility, economic change, and global interaction? How did key transformations in various parts of the world change people’s lives? Key transformations were globalisation, (de)colonisation, industrialisation, migration, state formation, urbanisation and changing gender patterns. We focus both on the local and the global level.

We are interested in the way people, both men and women, cause and are affected by social, cultural and economic processes. How did ordinary people experience major changes of the past? Why did some societies achieve more economic growth than others? Why are some inequalities more persistent than others? Who had access to power and how did certain groups manage to exclude others from power? When and why did collective action occur? Within the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence (CMGI), you will look at the movement of people, goods, services, capital, and ideas. You will study the means by which actors influence these changes, but also the restrictions they encounter, which can be demographic, physical, spatial, political, institutional, legal, technical, financial, and imagined.

In short, this specialisation focuses on the ways that men and women created social, cultural, and economic processes and how these processes affected them. Without losing sight of the value of individual experiences in historical analysis, CMGI attempts to analyse the aggregate or structural level of social groups, networks, and polities, and tries to understand how people are empowered and limited by both formal and informal institutions.

Programme structure

The Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence general programme consists of the following elements:

  • Literature seminar
  • Research seminar
  • One or two optional courses (at Leiden University, or another university), or opt for an internship
  • Thesis Seminar
  • MA thesis and exam

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. 


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. 

Detailed programme

For a detailed overview of the curriculum, please check the Prospectus. This shows the themes we focus on this academic year.


How to apply for this track:

  1. Go to Studielink
  2. Select ‘MA History’ and continue the application procedure
  3. When asked for a specialisation, select ‘Cities, Migration, and Global Interdependence’. Studielink automatically directs you to uSis (Leiden University’s online application portal) within 2 or 3 working days.
  4. In the online application portal, Leiden University will let you know whether you qualify for automatic admission and will guide you through all necessary steps to complete your registration, as well as informing you about what you have to do after applying.

Note: you specifically need to mention your interest in the Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence general programme in the Questionnaire.

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