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Art History

De Master Kunstgeschiedenis biedt cursussen in de volgende specialisaties:

  • Architecture

  • Early Modern and Medieval Art

  • Design and Decorative Art Studies

  • Art in the Contemporary World

  • Museums and Collections

Compulsory courses for all students, regardless of specialisation:

  • Practices and debates

  • Reading List

  • Thesis

In order to meet the demands of any specialisation you need to follow a minimum of 45 ects in your chosen specialisation. The easiest way to do this is to take:

  • 1 compulsory research course in field of specialisation (10 ects)

  • 1 other course in your period of specialisation (10 ects)

  • Reading list (5 ects)

  • Thesis (20 ects)
    An additional course or internship of 10 ects may be chosen in your field of specialisation as well.


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Practices and debates in Art History (Master) 5
Reading list for period or discipline of specialisation 5

Second semester

MA Thesis Art History 20

First or second semester

One Period Seminar interdisciplinary Art&Lit from period of specialisation

Interculturality 1: Key Concepts 10
Modern/Contemp. Studies: Eco-criticism/biopolitics 10
Modern/Contemp. Studies: The Sixties, Literature and Art in the Expanded Field 10
Interculturality 2: The Global Imagination 10
Early Modern studies: Artistic reflections: Painters, poets and the art of ekphrasis 10

One Research Seminar Art History from discipline of specialisation

Early Modern studies: Lucas van Leyden, Art and Literature 10
Art in the Contemporary World: Primitivism and Beyond: Western Art and Other Cultures Throughout the Ages 10
Architecture: Piranesi and Architectural History in Rome 10
Decorative Arts & Design: Sources and Contexts, Narratives of Taste 10
Cultures of Collecting: Early modern Collections Visualised 10
Workshop Museums and Collections

The two museums and collections options above can only be chosen in combination for 10 ects

Architecture: Einstein and 20th-Century architecture 10
Early Modern Art & Architecture: Michelangelo as Multimedial Talent 10
Museums and Collections: Museum Matters 10
Modern & Contemporary Art & Design: Art, Design, Science and Ethics 10

Free Component (10 ECTS)

There are several options to choose from for the free component. Students can take an extra course (a second Research or Period Seminar) or follow a workshop in the field of Art History (e.g. from a visiting scholar). It is also possible to use an internship as the free component within the programme. For more information on internships, visit the website. The course descriptions for the Workshops and Research and Period Seminars can be found below.

The social life of the artist 1500-1700 10

Meer info

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation



The aim of the Master programme in Art History is to educate critical and self-reflexive art historians who are ready to pursue a career in the field of art history, the art world, or beyond. In the course of the programme, students develop a thorough knowledge of the concepts, methods and techniques for the studying of art objects, design, and architecture within their chosen specialisation, whilst also gaining insight into the development and social relevance of the field in general. Up to 40-50 ec of the total programme of 60 ec can be devoted to the field of specialisation.

Graduates of the programme will be able to independently identify and collect specialist literature using both traditional and modern techniques (heuristic skills). They can analyse such literature and assess its quality and reliability, under professional supervision. They can formulate clear and well-argued research questions and subdivide them into orderly and manageable sub-questions. They can present research results in a clear and well argued manner, both orally and in writing. They will be able to plan and carry out a research project under professional supervision.

Upon completion of this programme, students will have the knowledge and competences required for positions outside the university that require an academic level of thinking, for an upper secondary teaching qualification or for a PhD candidature. Moreover, after completing this programme, students of Art History have the knowledge and competence required to train for an upper secondary teaching qualification.

Also see:


The Master’s programme in Art History is a comprehensive one-year programme in Art History. It is taught in English. In addition to offering training in one of the areas of specialisation, the programme introduces students to current theories and methodologies of scholarly practice. The study of Art History combines methods based on texts as well as on objects. Throughout the programme students will have the advantage of Leiden University’s proximity to a number of major museums, collections, libraries and research schools, accessing a range of unique texts and works of art. These include:

  • The National Museum for Ethnology

  • Municipal Museum de Lakenhal/Scheltema loca¬tion for contemporary art

  • Museum for the History of Science

  • National Museum of Antiquities

  • Leiden University Library with its special collections of prints, drawings and photography

The Master’s programme consists of two semesters. The courses are offered in units covering a number of weeks, or running the whole semester.

First Semester
The first semester will focus mainly on deepening the knowledge in and understanding of the field of Art History. Students chose a research seminar in their field of specialisation, and a second (lecture) seminar which can be either in the field of specialisation or in a different field. These research and lecture seminars provide an in-depth study in an area of specialisation, focussing on the selection and critical use of different types of primary sources. The study of art is analysed in a cultural and historical context. The seminars also train students in formulating research questions and planning a research project. In addition, all students are expected to participate in the plenary seminar Practices and Debates which discusses current issues, discourses and methods of Art History. Students also study an independent reading list during their first semester, focussing on either a discipline or period of specialisation.

Second Semester
In the second semester students follow an individually tailored programme in line with their field of specialisation, consisting of a Free Component, an oral Literature Exam and a Master’s Thesis. The Free Component (e/g internship) will offer students a first glimpse of the professional practices within their field of interest; it is given form in consultation with the thesis supervisor. Instead of an internship, students can choose an optional master’s course from the Leiden MA programme Art History, or from another institution or university. For the oral exam a literature survey of approximately 700 pages is compiled in consultation with the thesis supervisor, the purpose of which is to place the thesis within a broader context. The study concludes in the writing of a thesis.


The program is taught in English. In addition to offering training in one of the areas of specialisation, the programme introduces students to current theories and methodologies of scholarly practice. The following specialisations are offered:

  • Architecture

  • Early Modern and Medieval Art

  • Design and Decorative Art Studies

  • Art in the Contemporary World

  • Museums and Collections

Full-time and Part-time
The full-time programme spans one year, the part-time programme eighteen months. The only difference between the two programmes is the length of time required for completion; in content they both cover the six mentioned fields of specialisation.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 60 ec programme and their final thesis as a component of that programme. The thesis for the Art History Master’s programme carries 20 ec (15 ec thesis and 5 ec literature in preparation for the thesis), and as a rule contains ca. 18,000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. Depending on personal preference, the thesis is written either in Dutch or English. The thesis is supervised by a lecturer or professor attached to the School of Art History and who possesses expertise in the relevant field.

See also: