Universiteit Leiden

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Colonial and Global History (MA)

About the programme

During the one-year master’s programme in Colonial and Global History you will learn about the importance of a comparative perspective for understanding transnational processes such as imperialism, colonialism, islamisation, modernisation and globalisation.

Programme structure

  • Literature Seminar, 10 EC
  • Research Seminar, 10 EC
  • Research Workshop, 5 EC
  • Academic Skills and Thesis Seminar, 5 EC
  • Optional Courses, 10 EC
  • Thesis and Exam, 20 EC


During this programme you can also select an optional course from a wide range of possibilities. For an overview of all or our electives, please check the online studyguide.

Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Leiden University offers a unique master’s specialisation in Maritime History.

Learn more about our Maritime History specialisation.

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.

Prof.dr. Gert Oostindie


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."

Michiel van Groesen

University Lecturer

Michiel van Groesen

"The Colonial and Global History track offers you the opportunity to discover the world at Leiden University. This track concerns the global circulation of people, goods, values and ideas during the early-modern and modern times. This MA allows you to study the past from 1500 to today. It is a diachronic programme and students are actively encouraged to make connections between the past and the present, colonial legacies and the globalized world we live in today. During the courses, we combine a global approach with the information that is available locally, so we will introduce you to heritage institutions in the Netherlands. In this programme, primarily sources play a key role and we also encourage you to go to the National Archives in The Hague for example."

Admission and Application

Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's Programme?

Check the entry requirements

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