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Introduction to the History of the Netherlands


Admission requirements



The Dutch often pride themselves on their tradition of tolerance. And indeed, in many respects the Netherlands does seem to be an example of modern day tolerance: gay marriage, the semi-legal distribution and consumption of marijuana and hashish, extensive tolerance toward the LBGTQ community and so on. Upon closer inspection, however, the history of the Netherlands also turns out to be a nation that is deeply divided, both today and in the past: religious and political tolerance seem to have always gone hand in hand with (seemingly) racist biases, an unaccounted for history of slavery, a repressive understanding of what ‘Dutch tolerance’ should be and so on.

In this course students are introduced to the history of the Netherlands. The course focuses on the historical, political and cultural development of the Netherlands since the late Middle Ages, with particular emphasis on the period between the seventeenth and twenty first century. To gain insight in the political, cultural and economic issues and discussions that dominated the history of the Netherlands each class will focus on a particular theme, eg.: tolerance, sovereignty, republicanism, slavery.

Course objectives

This course introduces students to the history of the Netherlands since the late Middle Ages, with a particular emphasis on the seventeenth century and our own time. On the basis of this historical survey students practice in using their knowledge of the history of the Netherlands to reflect critically on the debates and forms of collective memory that dominate the Netherlands today. By the end of the course students

  • can reproduce the basic knowledge of the political, cultural and economic history of the Netherlands from 1300 to the present day;

  • are well acquainted with the political and cultural debates that took place in the seventeenth century (the so-called Golden Age of the Netherlands) and in the post-1945 era;

  • are able to reflect critically on these political and cultural debates; i.e. they are able to place those debates in a wider, international context and relate them to the present day debates in the Netherlands.


The timetable is available on the Dutch Studies website

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Course Load

Total course load of the course: 5EC (140 hours)

  • Seminars and lectures: 2 hours per week x 14 weeks = 28 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature (and to prepare for the exams): 80 hours

  • Time for writing and submitting small class assignments: 30 hours

  • Written exam: 2 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

The assessment will consists of short, written assignments (20%), and a final exam (80%) with short questions and essay questions.


There will be a resit of the final exam in June.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course.

Reading list

  • P.J. Rietbergen (2013) A Short History of the Netherlands. From Prehistory to the Present Day, Amersfoort: Bekking & Blitz Publishers.

  • Ian Buruma (2007) Murder in Amsterdam. The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance, New York, Penguin.

  • Stephen Small & Sandew Hira (2014) Twenty Questions and Answers about Dutch Slavery and its Legacy, The Hague, Amrit.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available online

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


You can contact the lecturer, dr. A. Dlabacova about the contents of the course, for other general and practical matters, turn to the student adviser, ms. I. Zagar and for administrative matters, for instance if you have problems with registering in usis, the administration of Dutch Studies


This introductory course is aimed at all international students, with the exception of Dutch Studies students (for whom this course is too elementary).