MA History of Politics and Society

Utrecht University

Program Description

MA History of Politics and Society

Utrecht University

Use historical insights to solve present-day issues

Have you wondered how some societies manage to achieve wealth, security, justice, and freedom – and eventual happiness – while others do not? What role do citizenship, democracy, and the organisation of the market play in this process? Why do you think it is so difficult to avoid negative effects such as social polarisation and environmental damage?

History and origins of institutions

These are the core questions addressed in our Master’s programme in History of Politics and Society. The central theme is the concept of ‘institutions’, in the broadest sense of the word: the formal and informal rules, customs, and organisational structures that make up a society, but are themselves the result of a historical development process. As such, this programme is closely related to Institutions, one of Utrecht University’s strategic international research themes.

In this programme, you will study the history and origins of institutions over the past 1,000 years. The emphasis is mainly on Europe in the modern age, but emphatically placed within a broader perspective, as the programme also pays attention to other eras and other parts of the world. You will combine your historical knowledge and academic skills with concepts from the social sciences. You will learn how to use comparative research methods, and methods for long-term analysis. You will develop the tools to contribute, as a historian, to the solution of contemporary problems.

Language of instruction

The core courses of the programme are offered only in English. For the other courses you may choose between Dutch- and English-taught courses.


The part-time option allows you to complete the full-time programme over two years instead of one.


After completing their studies, many historians pursue careers as government researchers or policy assistants. Graduates find work in public or semi-public organisations, at NGOs, in the business world, or in media. During the Master’s programme History of Politics and Society, you will acquire the knowledge and tools to thoughtfully interpret the past in order to benefit the present.

  • You will acquire a thorough knowledge of the origins and development of social institutions from the late Middle Ages to the present day.
  • You will learn to understand how these institutions have influenced social and political relationships, economic affluence, and individual and collective well-being.
  • You will develop the skills needed to analyse social issues from a historical perspective.
  • You will learn how to develop scenarios and use instruments to contribute solutions to social issues.

Career prospects

There are a number of job market segments where there is a need for people who can tie together the past, present, and future: employees who help shape the future by providing insight into the origins of contemporary society.

This school offers programs in:
  • English
  • Dutch

Last updated January 11, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
1 - 2 years
Part time
Full time
1,951 EUR
Start date Sept. 2017
Netherlands Utrecht
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 1 - 2 years
Price 1,951 EUR
Statutory fee - fulltime, (2015-2016) €1,984 (2016-2017) Institutional fee: 2015-2016: € 15,330, 2016-2017: € 10,124 (EU/EEA) / € 15,000 (non EU/EEA)