The interdisciplinary MA program History: Medical and Health Humanities combines the history of health and medicine with a wide array of arts and humanities approaches. Classes explore the different ways that bodies and minds have been investigated and understood, and how these various ways of knowing shape everyday life, medical practice, and public health policy. Participants learn to contextualize medical ideas in the time and culture, and to analyse a diverse range of sources, including historical artifacts, comics and films, medical texts and health journalism. Drawing on methods from across the disciplines, students will broaden their tools of investigation beyond the written word to also consider the sounds, smells, and the look and feel of the past and its lessons and legacies in the present day.
- Master: History
- Specialization: Medical and Health Humanities
The track is an interdisciplinary program taught in English, that is jointly offered by the Faculties of Humanities of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam, and by the Faculties of Medicine of the Universities of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The program runs annually from February through June. Sessions are led by scholars from universities around the country and students come from a broad range of disciplines - historians or physicians in training or former patients and caregivers. This offers the opportunity to compare and contrast worldviews and to critically reflect on issues of great significance, from birth to death.
Classes explore the different ways that bodies and minds have been investigated and understood, and how these various ways of knowing shape everyday life, medical practice, and public health policy. Participants learn to contextualize medical ideas in the time and culture and to analyse a diverse range of sources, including historical artifacts, comics and films, medical texts and health journalism.
The program is taught by staff from the Chair of Cultural History (prof. dr. Inger Leemans) and the Chair of Medical History (prof. dr. Manon Parry).
A program that trains you to become a professional
This program is a specialization within the Master’s degree program in History, which trains students to become professional historians with specialized knowledge and transferable skills such as writing, presenting and analytical skills. Students, personally mentored by a member of the academic staff throughout their studies, take several core courses and choose specialized tutorials or opt for an internship.
A combination of core courses and specializations
The master’s degree course in history at the Vrije Universiteit has a unique character due to the combination of a broad common curriculum and specializations. All students follow an introductory core subject, two research subjects, and the subjects ‘History and Theory’ and ‘Key works in Contemporary Historical Thought’. The subjects of the broad master’s course offer a basis from which you can specialize. The introductory course and the course ‘History and Theory’, given in the same period, ensure a common basis from which to progress, regardless of your disciplinary background. ‘Key works in Contemporary Historical Thought’ helps you to develop your specialization. In the research courses, you examine a specific historical problem in-depth and develop your research skills. It is also possible to do an internship.
Those who specialize, in addition to the general subjects, take research lectures and specialized tutorials. Here too you can do an internship instead of a course. You choose the subject of your master’s thesis from the field of your specialization. You become acquainted with new methods of the e-Humanities and are brought regularly into contact with the working practices of historians. The choice of subject for your master’s thesis is free.
Master of Arts
A master’s title in History makes you an attractive employment prospect because you have broad-based knowledge and have developed an analytical way of reading and writing. Among other areas, you could work for government institutions, business or international institutions. Many historians do not enter the business world but go into politics or journalism. In addition, after a further specialized year of master’s courses, you could find a position in teaching or research.
With a master’s title in History, you can embark on Ph.D. research at a university or research institute. If you aim at an academic career, you could also consider following the two-year research master’s degree course in History. This master’s degree course trains you specifically as a (university) researcher.
Why VU Amsterdam
Studying in the city of Amsterdam is a unique experience. The urban setting and the multicultural mindset of the people of Amsterdam, combined with the presence of thriving cultural city life give your education a special dimension.
The track is a unique interdisciplinary Humanities’ program in medicine and health taught in English, that is jointly offered by the Faculties of Humanities of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam, and by the Faculties of Medicine of the Universities of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Sessions are led by scholars from universities around the country, as well as those involved in medical history in other venues, including online and in museums. Students come from a broad range of disciplines - historians or physicians in training or former patients and caregivers. This offers the opportunity to compare and contrast worldviews and to critically reflect on issues of great significance, from birth to death.
Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.
In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programs, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.
Specific admission requirements for the Master’s program History:
The Master’s History is designed for students with an academic Bachelor’s in history. You may also be accepted if you have an academic Bachelor’s in other disciplines of the Humanities (including theology or philosophy) or anthropology or sociology, with significant historical interest, apparent from a major or specialization equal to a minimum of 30 ECTS.
For international students, the level of studied academic theory needs to be based on the course description, literature list and sample of academic writing, due to a lack of distinction between applied and academic universities abroad.
You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a full high school/International Baccalaureate in English or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. You can already apply online without having the test results. In case you haven’t taken a test yet we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the English taught programs at the Faculty of Humanities:
- TOEFL score (score 600 paper-based with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE, score 250 computer-based or score 100 internet-based with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests).
- IELTS score of 7.0 overall band score (with none of the separate section scores dropping below a minimum score of 6.5).
- Cambridge English: Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C, or Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C.
If you have read the admission criteria below and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.
Step 1: Meet the admission criteria
Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online
Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.
- Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID only for EU residents).
- Curriculum Vitae.
- Motivation Letter.
- Two Letters of Recommendation.
- Transcript of records.
- Thesis (or another sample of academic writing, at least 5 pages plus a list of used literature).
- A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education.
- A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education.
After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email.
Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!
Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the program. When all conditions are met, you will be ready to start your program at VU Amsterdam!
Overview History: Medical and Health Humanities
- LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION: English, Dutch
- DURATION: 1 year
- APPLICATION DEADLINE: 1 June
- START DATE: 1 September
- STUDY TYPE: Full-time
- FIELD OF INTEREST: Art, Culture and History