Master in Humanities: Global History (research)


Program Description

Application deadline update

  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 May (the original deadline of 1 April has been extended due to COVID-19)
  • EU/EEA students and students who do not need a study visa/residence permit through VU Amsterdam*: 1 June (the original deadline of 1 May has been extended due to COVID-19)

The Global History programme, is a specialization of the Humanities Research Master, aimed at talented students who are exceptionally motivated to develop their skills in the field of historical research. It prepares students for a research career in history, or for other research-intensive careers.

In the Global History programme you will learn to investigate the dynamics and long-term developments of the global interconnection of goods, ideas and people, and the role of power, religion and affects in such constellations. In research-intensive courses you will collaborate with renowned researchers and research groups in the fields of migration studies, the history of capitalism, knowledge and religion, material culture and heritage, emotions and senses, and environmental humanities. The distinguishing characteristic of the programme is an interdisciplinary perspective that includes concepts and methodologies from the social sciences, philosophy and law. The programme also offers students the possibility to explore and train skills in digital analysis and reflect on the possibilities of the emerging digital humanities techniques, and e-Humanities approaches. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers a thorough training programme, with individual guidance by excellent and committed supervisors. You are encouraged to make use of the staff’s intensive networks with heritage and research institutions, governmental organizations and NGO’s (e.g. UNESCO), and business partners (banks, creative industries), to set up embedded research projects which may act as a stepping stone for the next step in your career. The Global History programme offers a dynamic international context where students from the Netherlands, and from abroad, exchange views, experiences and historical research questions. Visits to other universities abroad for a research period up to 3 months, are encouraged, with financial support from the Graduate school of Humanities.

Study programme

The Global History Research Master's Programme concentrates on the study of politics, culture, religion, economy and daily life from a historical, theoretical and “new” world history perspective. In a globalizing and digitizing world long-term perspectives are needed for the complex phenomena of our time: perspectives sensitive of deep rooted mechanisms of in- and exclusion. Disciplinary boundaries need to be questioned and challenged, new methods explored. In order to face these challenges, we need researchers who are thoroughly trained in finding and interpreting compelling source material, in critical reflection, and in detailed reporting.

The Global History programme is aimed to train these skills. Students learn to develop a critical attitude and learn to arrive at original lines of questioning based on a profound knowledge of their research subject. In two years, our students learn to develop their own unique expert knowledge, which enables them to start a successful research career.

MA History Courses (max 30 EC)
The programme starts with general introductions to historical research and theory, followed by thematic specialization courses of the student’s choice. Here the research master’s student can connect to the different specialization tracks of the MA history programme: Global Social History, Migration & Mobility, Religion & Society, Cultures of Knowledge, Medical History, Politics & Sovereignty (Dutch language track).

Humanities Core Modules (3 x 6 EC)
Together with the other Humanities Research Master students, you will follow three courses in humanities research and research design. These courses are aimed to provide a general introduction to the history, philosophy and methodology of humanities research, and to two cross cutting themes of VU humanities research: Environmental Humanities and Digital Humanities. You will also actively participate in the graduate lectures & seminars of the Graduate School of Humanities.

After the introductions, the courses focus at research design: they will train you to position yourself in the international research field and to develop your skills in developing and presenting innovative research. In the second year, you will learn to write a research proposal for national or international science foundations.

Core Courses - Humanities connected (2 x 9 EC)
In two core courses the history research master’s students (1st and 2nd year) come together to dive into the research of one of the leading research groups of the department. Students will learn to collaborate with cutting edge research groups, and to connect their own expertise to the main questions and methods of this state of the art research.

National research schools (10 EC)
All research master students enroll with a Humanities National Research School at the start of the first year of their study. The Graduate School of Humanities organizes this enrolment. Students then choose from the programmes of a National Research School a selection of courses, masterclasses, summer or winter schools of at least 10 EC.

Individual study programme. (30 EC)
A large portion of the study programme is reserved for individual choice. This way you can develop a tailor made study programme, together with you mentor. You can choose for a stay at an another university or research institute in the Netherlands or abroad, or an internship, for tutorials, or specific skill trainings, combined with participation in conferences, workshops and the graduate lectures & seminars of the Graduate School of Humanities.

Thesis (30 EC)
Already at the beginning of your second year, you will start to prepare, together with your mentor, for your final thesis trajectory. This way, you can optimize your individual study programme in preparation for your final thesis. You thesis will give you the opportunity to prove the academic research skills you have acquired during the programme. Your final thesis will show you have a profound level of knowledge of the historiography and theory of the research field, the creativity to find a compelling subject of research, and the ability to think systematically and critically, and finally: the ability to communicate all this in the English language.

Career prospects

Your most likely prospect after completing your research master’s degree program is to set up your own research as a PhD student. This involves attracting funding, carrying out research under the guidance of a supervisor, and writing a PhD thesis on the subject. The Humanities Research Master’s Programme offers an excellent training for an academic career. In our research design courses you will learn to develop your research skills, construct research proposals for national or European science foundations, and to apply for international research funds.

You can also embark on a career at a research institute outside of the academic setting. Many research institutes are eager to welcome researchers schooled in qualitative and quantitative research. You can also start a career outside the field of academics, for instance as a history teacher, a journalist, or text writer, a heritage expert, an advisor for the government or for NGO’s.

Investing in a research master’s education has been proved to be very profitable for our students over the years.

Why VU Amsterdam?

Unique, tailor made programme with committed mentors in an inspiring research environment
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a strong tradition in Global / Post-colonial History, History and Theory, History of knowledge and religion, Environmental Humanities and Material Culture, especially for Europe, the Atlantic region, and (South)East Asia.
From the very beginning of your research master, you will be supervised by a committed mentor, who will help you plan your specialization programme, tailored to you expertise and preferences. You will be involved in the activities of our acclaimed research groups and centers, e.g. Global History and Heritage in a Post-Colonial World, the Amsterdam Centre for Religious History, ACCESS - the Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotion and Sensory Studies and the Stevin Center for History of Science and Humanities.

Graduate School of Humanities
The history programme is embedded within the Graduate School of Humanities - a community that connects students and researchers over the various humanities disciplines. Through Graduate Lectures and Graduate Seminars research master’s students can connect with students from other disciplines and engage in discussion with internationally acclaimed scholars. This inspiring and sustainable research environment will help students to connect on an interdisciplinary level and to present their research to a wide variety of students and researchers. The Graduate School also offers you practical support, e.g. with enrolling at a national research school, or with arranging a research period at a research institute, in the Netherlands or abroad.

Humanities connected
The Global History programme is a research based specialization, that collaborates with other disciplines to provide new perspectives to current social challenges. While helping you to develop expertise in the specialization of your choice, we will constantly challenge you to make connections: with research master students from other humanities disciplines, and with other relevant fields, like economics, social sciences, medicine, and philosophy. We strongly belief that your humanities research is very valuable for our current society and we encourage our students to connect their research to societal issues and debates, such as globalization, refuge, international justice, “emocratisation”, diversity, and the rapid changing environment.

International Students

Admission & application

The Global History research master's programme is aimed at talented students who are exceptionally motivated to be trained in academic methods in the field of history. To be admitted to the programme, the student should have a bachelor’s degree in history, European studies, anthropology, political sciences, cultural studies, or a related academic degree. The student should also have a proficient level of academic English, proof of excellent study results and clear motivation for doing academic research.The research master's degree programme is aimed at the talented student who is exceptionally motivated to train in academic methods in the field of history. To be admitted to the programme, the student should have a bachelor’s degree in History, European studies, Anthropology, Political Science, Cultural Studies, or a related university degree. The student should also have a proficient level of academic English, proof of excellent study results and motivation for doing academic research.

English Language entry requirements
All master's degree students whose first language is not English including both dutch and international students must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is appropriate. This requirement is specified in order to ensure that the academic progress of students is not hindered by language difficulties.

Acceptable qualifications
Listed below are all the English language qualifications and tests and the level required to satisfy our English language entry requirements. The qualification or test result must have been awarded no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment.

  • IELTS Academic Version: Overall grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the subtests.
  • TOEFL paper based test: Overall grade of 600 with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE.
  • TOEFL internet based test: Overall grade of 100 with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests.
  • Cambridge Advanced English: A, B or C.

Exemption from the requirements listed above can be awarded to students who have fulfilled the following requirements no longer than two years prior to the date of enrolment:

  • Students who have fulfilled the requirements of the VU English language proficiency test TOEFL ITP, with the required scores. For more information please consult Taalloket.
  • Students from one of the following countries: Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand of Australia.
  • Students holding an International Baccalaureate degree in English.
  • Students holding a Bachelor degree in English Language and Culture from a Dutch University.
  • Students holding a Bachelor degree Literature and Society: English from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The required evidence should, if possible, be included with the complete application. If either unsatisfactory or no evidence of English language proficiency has been provided with the application, admission will be conditional upon the provision of such evidence. This condition will be clearly indicated on the offer letter and must be fulfilled before enrolment at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

All lectures and student presentations are in English, as well as all written assignments. Therefore all prospective students must have proficient knowledge in English (active and passive). The VU courses Academic English: Grammar and Academic English: Writing (or similar courses at another university) are strongly recommended as a preparation for the Master’s programmes.

Overview Humanities Research: Global History

  • Language of instruction: English
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Application deadline: 1 June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.
  • Start date: 1 September
  • Study type: Full-time
  • Field of interest: Behavioural ans Social Sciences, Art, Culture and History

Last updated Jul 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Curious about student life at VU Amsterdam? Click here to ask our International Student Ambassadors. Read less