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Arts and Culture: Design, Culture & Society

The specialisation “Design, Culture and Society” is part of the Master Arts and Culture.

Leiden has a long tradition of research and teaching in design and decorative art from the Early Modern to the Postmodern period. You will study layout and design in a context of the reception and significance that objects and interiors bring about, such as design and identity, including cultural identity. Another option is to examine discussions on the effects of decoration, function and aesthetics of interiors and objects. These can, for instance, be from a particular period and community that is also interesting for insights into other times and cultures. You can also opt to make a more in-depth study of present-day engaged forms of design, such as ecodesign and biodesign. You can determine your own focal areas.

Key themes include:

  • (re)presentation of layout and design in old and modern sources, both written and visual

  • reception of layout and design in written texts

  • interiors, design and gender identity

  • history of domestic culture and objects that determine domestic culture

You can also opt to do an internship at a leading museum or other significant institution in the area of heritage and culture preservation in the Netherlands. You can also do an internship in the area of contemporary design within the research projects of the tutors or of cultural institutions.

The structure of the programme is the following:

  • Practices and Debates (5 EC)

  • Two Research Seminars (20 EC) from the specialisation ‘Design and Decorative Art Studies*

  • Free Component (10 EC)

  • Thesis Seminar (5 EC)

  • Thesis (20 EC)


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory courses

Practices and Debates in Art History (Master) 5
Thesis Seminar Arts and Culture 5
Free Component 10
MA Thesis Arts and Culture 20

Take the following two Research Seminars:

The Visual and Material Culture of Food and Drink in Asia and Europe, 1500-1800 10
Design as Art / Art as Design 10
Secession Vienna - Art Nouveau 10
The Model House. Proposals for Ideal Living 10

Free Component (10 EC)

You can choose any course offered within the MA Arts and Culture, a course on an Arts and Culture subject taught in another MA or an approved Internship. Suggestions:

The Sculptor at Work: Sculpture, Techniques and Meanings 10
Internship Arts and Culture 10

More info

Course objectives

  • to enable students to acquire academic knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the field of Arts and Culture in general, and in particular with regard to the chosen specialisation;

  • to enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills:

    • independent academic reasoning and conduct,
    • the ability to analyse complex problems,
    • academic reporting;
  • to prepare students for an academic career and further education;

  • to prepare students for a career outside academia.


The structure of the programme is the following:

  • Practices and Debates (5 credits);

  • Two Research Seminars from the chosen specialisation in the master’s programme in Arts and Culture (20 credits);

  • Free Component (10 credits);

  • Thesis Seminar (5 credits);

  • Thesis (20 credits).

Full-time and part-time

The programme consits of 60 EC, to be completed in one year. Part-time students complete the programme in 1,5 years, they will have a course load of 20 EC per semester. Courses are scheduled during office hours.

Requirements for graduation:

Requirements for graduation are:

  • Successful completion of courses, following the structure of the programme (40 EC)

  • Successful completion of MA Thesis (20 EC)

Students need to complete at least 45 EC within their field of specialization:

  • 2 Research seminars in field of specialisation (20 EC);

  • Thesis seminar (5 EC);

  • Thesis (20 EC).


The specialisations are:

  • Art and Architecture before 1800

  • Museums and Collections

  • Art of the Contemporary World and World Art Studies

  • Design, Culture and Society