nl en

Historical Theory (ResMA History)


Admission requirements

This course is offered exclusively to research master students in History, others cannot attend this course.


This course 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.

Students write a 6,000 word paper in English or Dutch. Please note: this is an intensive research seminar, the success of which depends on the active participation of all students. Students are not only supposed to attend all classes and read all required materials, but also to contribute to discussions of the assigned materials, both online (on Blackboard, the electronic learning environment) and in class. At the end of the semester, students write a paper related to topics discussed in this course. Details will be discussed during the first class.

Course objectives

This course aims:

  • 1) To provide knowledge of and insight in some of the most important theories of historical scholarship;

  • 2) To enable students to analyze and evaluate such theories as developed in various disciplinary contexts;

  • 3) To enable students to relate such theories to their own research and writing, so as to help them reflect on their own practices of research and writing;

  • 4) To develop oral and written presentation skills (the ability to produce a paper conforming to scholarly standards).


The timetable is available on the MA History website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Attending seminars: 26 hours

  • Studying compulsory literature: 91 hours

  • Preparing Blackboard assignments: 13 hours

  • Research and writing a paper: 150 hours

Assessment method

  • Participation (25%)

  • Written paper (75%)

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • To post questions and comments related to the weekly readings on Blackboard

Reading list

Those students who have not attended a bachelor course in Historical Theory or Philosophy of History are expected to prepare themselves by reading:

  • Mark Day, The Philosophy of Historiography: An Introduction (London; New York: Continuum, 2008), ISBN 978-0826488480 (paperback).

All other reading materials (journal articles, book chapters) will be made available online or in photocopy form.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


dhr. Dr. A.P. van Veldhuizen