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General information

Future perspective
Programme objectives
Exit qualifications of the ACS Bachelor
Associated costs
The Art and Culture Studies Master

Everything, it seems, is referred to as 'culture' these days: we speak of youth culture and pop culture, talk of business cultures and mass cultures, refer to multiculturalism and the culture industry. But what is culture? Is it something personal or a collective thing, a national phenomenon or an inter- or transnational register? Is culture the same as art? What's the difference between high art and low culture? Can we call Beyoncé culture in the same sense that we call Bach culture, or Duchamp? What does it mean to be “cultured”? Does it say something about your character if you enjoy reading E.L. James, Dan Brown or the works of Marcel Proust? Or if you prefer manga and anime? What do people mean by “authentic culture”? Is an expensive T-shirt with a Che Guevara print authentic? A Mona Lisa coffee mug? A Buddha mousepad? Who decides what is and what isn’t culture? And to whom does culture belong? Do Olaf’s gold cup and Thorfinn’s sword belong to Norway? Are Nok sculptures part of Nigeria’s patrimony?

Questions like these – interrogating culture, art, and the relations between them – form the basis of Arts and Culture Studies (ACS). We deal with questions about the definition of culture, how culture is practiced and transmitted and how cultural power relations are reproduced or transformed. We question the development of the arts, the correlation between art and popular culture and how and why the two are interrelated. We also question the relationship between culture, policy and politics. These questions are not easy to answer because culture is a complex expression of language, art, media and real life. Moreover, culture is constantly changing. One reason is the advent of digital media, which brings new possibilities and new challenges. Another is migration and globalisation, which causes local cultures to blend and change. To gain insight into the complexity of culture, researchers have to look outside the boundaries of their specialisations. And that's exactly what ACS does.

We live in a complex world. Cultural, economic, political and religious events around the world are intricately connected. This is reflected in the clothes we wear, the music we listen to and the books we read. Identity has become a popular media topic thanks to globalisation. Culture can be defined as the way people interact with and respond to their environment, to objects, to themselves and to other people. It's the way people express their identities and give meaning to their lives. Society needs people who understand the social relevance of art and culture. Scholars in cultural studies are experts at analysing works of art and identifying the underlying patterns and processes. ACS graduates are active in the scholarly and societal debates and can make important contributions to them.

In recent decades, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of positioning art and culture within a social context. After all, art and culture do not exist in isolation, but have an important social value. Cultural Studies scholars make statements about the position that art has, had and should have in society. Research starts and ends with a formal analysis of the metre of a poem, the structure of a song or the rhythm of the montage of an avant-garde film. Embedded in cultural theory and knowledge of history, formal analyses enable you to elucidate how ideology manifests itself in art works, or how gender and ethnicity are represented. They also help you interpret artistic expressions, determine the relationship between artistic disciplines and identify intertextual clues. Cultural Studies scholars use theories and methods from the social sciences, philosophy and art history. Cultural Studies is defined by its interdisciplinary, comparative and thematic approach. As an ACS student, you will examine art and culture at a scholarly level and develop the intellectual capacity expected of an academic graduate.

Future perspective

Taking an interdisciplinary approach to art and culture gives students a broad overview of the cultural debate. The programme lays a solid foundation for working at institutes that aim to preserve, exhibit and create art. ACS graduates can look forward to a bright future in the arts and culture sector as critics, policy officers, education officers and PR experts or as programme officers at theatres, cinemas, music centres, museums or one of the many art festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. Our graduates also work in museums, heritage and media education centres, or in the field of art journalism, art policy and education. The ACS programme is closely linked to the Dutch secondary school subjects ‘cultural and artistic studies’ (CKV) and ‘art’ (Kunst Algemeen) but offers an equally excellent continuation of numerous international high school curricula. After completing the Arts and Culture Studies Master's programme, students can qualify themselves as teachers for these subjects through the Master's programme in teacher training. For more information about this programme, visit the Radboud Graduate School of Education (http://www.ru.nl/docentenacademie/). ACS graduates can also choose to follow an academic career and do a Research Master in preparation for academic research.


Academic education has close ties with the research conducted at the university. The further students progress in their respective programmes, the closer their involvement with this research. The curriculum reflects the current state of affairs in the scholarly disciplines and helps students acquire academic knowledge and analytical skills.

Programme objectives

The Arts and Culture Studies bachelor's programme trains students to become Cultural Studies scholars with a comprehensive understanding of a variety of artistic movements and the ability to position these within their historical and social contexts. After completing the bachelor’s programme, you will possess the necessary skills for analysing, interpreting and comparing works of art from different disciplines (music, literature, visual arts, performing arts, film, television and new media). You will be able to use the knowledge and skills acquired to systematically reflect on the social position and function of art and culture in both the past and present, and you will be capable of identifying and understanding the historical and social backgrounds of artistic and cultural expressions. This Bachelor's programme prepares you for the Master’s programmes ‘Arte and Culture Studies’ and ‘North American Studies’.

Exit qualifications of the ACS Bachelor

After completing the Bachelor's programme, the graduate will be able to:

1. reflect on art and culture and make comparative analyses that draw on their understanding of the different arts (e.g. visual arts, music, literature, theatre, film, television and/or digital media);
2. identify social issues expressed in art and culture (e.g. gender, ethnicity and power relations);
3. independently analyse questions of art and culture and research a specific and relevant artistic or cultural issue (under supervision) using suitable research methods. The graduate is capable of defining the problem, formulating sub-questions and conducting theoretical and/or empirical research using relevant sources;
4. organise tasks individually and in a team setting. The graduate is capable of evaluating these tasks based in part on the feedback of others. The graduate is also capable of identifying gaps in their knowledge and making informed choices with regard to their follow-up programme or future career;
5. identify the relationship between the development of art and culture and developments in related disciplines in the Humanities and the Social Sciences;
6. share the acquired knowledge, research results and other findings verbally and in writing with peers, academics and an audience of laypeople.

Associated costs

During your studies you will visit museums, theatres, concert halls and cinemas. The university can arrange discounted tickets for many of these visits. Please bear in mind that these additional costs will amount to roughly €150 per year.

The Arts and Culture Studies Master's Programmes

Most students start a Bachelor's programme with the aim of enrolling in a Master's programme. Bachelor's graduates will always have access to at least one Master's programme at the same university. By minoring in a different discipline during the Bachelor's phase you may be eligible for other Master's programmes as well (at the same university or a different university). This requires some planning in advance.

The ACS Bachelor's programme concretely prepares you for two Master's programmes: Arts and Culture Studies and North American Studies. The Arts and Culture Studies Master has four tracks:

•Creative Industries

•Tourism and Culture

•Cultural Policy and the Business of Art (in Dutch)

•Art History (in Dutch)

ACS Bachelor's graduates can enroll in all four of these tracks. Each Master's programme has its own study guide with more information about the contents and the entry requirements.

Creative Industries

The creative industries is a fast-changing sector where the focus always seems to be on the tension between creativity and commerce. In this specialisation, students develop a reflective, inquisitive and critical view of the creative industries and its relationship with economics and commercialism. Focusing on Fashion, Media and Music, you will learn to look beyond the promise of authenticity, the cry for value, or the quest for quality in the creative industries, while never losing sight of its core: the cultural product or event.

Tourism and Culture

Tourism has developed into one of the prime industries in the global economy.
According to the World Travel & Tourist Council, the tourism sector supports 1 in 10 jobs on the planet. Travel agencies, governments, heritage centers and publishers are increasingly looking for academically trained professionals who can creatively and critically reflect on tourism as a cultural phenomenon, and who are capable of nourishing the cultural interests of tourists with enticing ideas and well-informed stories. By combining historical, literary, art-historical and other disciplinary approaches, and by integrating academic research with practical challenges, this brand new Master’s specialisation will train you to become an academic expert in cultural tourism.

Cultural Policy and the Business of Art (in Dutch only)

The Cultural Policy and the Business of Art track focuses on the current issues surrounding funding for art and cultural purposes. For years, this debate focused on the government's position. In recent years, however, private donors (patrons) and corporate art sponsors have become important players in both academia and society. Students in this programme will examine the role of the government and the private sector in the art industry. They will learn how to critically evaluate relevant scientific theories and explanations on the path to becoming cultural experts who can take an informed stance and make an active contribution to current discussions and debates surrounding cultural funding.

Art History (in Dutch only)

The Art History track encourages students to delve deeper into the history of architecture and of the visual arts. It addresses the history of art history, as well as the different methodological approaches of relevance to the field. Students engage in research and apply the acquired cultural-historical knowledge in a variety of professional ways. Thus they develop, in the field of their self-chosen specialisation, into full-fledged academics with an overview of their discipline, able to do and evaluate research independently as well as communicate information about scholarly research to diverse audiences.

North American Studies

The North American Studies Master touches on subjects such as Americanization, globalisation, balances of power, transatlantic transfer, cultural mobility, exceptionalism and cultural diplomacy. You’ll come to understand what shaped Europe's image of the United States and vice versa. Nijmegen distinguishes itself from other American Studies programmes through its emphasis on the cultural and political relations between the United States, its neighbouring countries and Europe. Our Master's programme gives students the opportunity to acquire solid expertise in relation to the concept of ‘America' in a variety of fields: US history, literature, culture (including literature, popular culture, film, music, and the arts) as well as political history, foreign policy, constitutional law, religion and social science.