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


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Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load: 280 hours (26 hours for attending seminars, 91 hours for studying compulsory literature, 13 hours for preparing Blackboard assignments, and 150 hours for research and writing a paper).

Assessment method

Participation (25%) and written paper (75%).


Yes. Students will 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.


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Contact information

dhr. Drs. A.P. van Veldhuizen