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Programme and learning outcomes

Explore the many faces of the Mediterranean from many different perspectives, and get acquainted with the fascinating histories of the ancient, Byzantine, Islamic and medieval European worlds.

In recent years, the Mediterranean has become  a focal point for political, social and historical issues. It is after all, the stage on which connections and divisions between Europe and its neighbours to the South and East are played out – and vice versa. This is, of course, nothing new. Centuries ago, the Mediterranean also acted as the beating heart of the ancient, Byzantine, Islamic and medieval Western Worlds. It was the backbone of some of the most powerful empires in history and, by joining three continents, played a strategic role in the development and spread of their cultures. Empires and republics, commonwealths and city-states, popes and kings, caliphates and crusaders: they all flourished around its shores and competed for its resources. The histories of the greatest cities of this region – be it Rome, Constantinople, Cairo, Damascus, or Córdoba – were made by their access to the Mediterranean, as they jostled for supremacy in a rapidly changing world.

This unique Master’s programme explores questions in ancient and medieval Mediterranean history, including the way the transformation of the ancient to the medieval world was perceived at the time, and described by later generations. Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean Worlds offers a programme that is unique to the Netherlands, as it gives equal weight to the ancient and medieval history of Byzantium, the Islamic world and Western Europe – as well as their contacts and conflicts. Taught by a group of internationally renowned experts, the programme will offer you a broad treatment of the major themes in Mediterranean history, by looking at:

  • Cultural identity, cultural memory and community formation;
  • Regionalism, colonialism and conquest;
  • Continuity and change throughout history;
  • Traditions and ideologies, and how they overlap;
  • Economic history and trade (including numismatics);
  • Intercultural exchange, influence and acculturation.

As you analyse aspects of the Mediterranean and its impressive legacy, you will become acquainted with several specialist areas of research, such as ancient history, medieval history, art history, classical philology, archaeology, theology, and literary theory. Each field offers different perspectives and methodologies that will both expand your knowledge and ideas of Mediterranean history, and deepen your insight into many questions relevant for the functioning of our modern society.

The programme is coordinated by dr. Erika Manders, erika.manders@ru.nl

Learning outcomes

The graduate of the Master's programme Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean Worlds:

  1. has - in addition to the knowledge acquired in the Bachelor's programme - an understanding of the political and cultural significance of the Mediterranean from the ancient and medieval periods to the present, and of the theories and historiographical backgrounds to these core considerations;
  2. knows how to analyse historical debates on the role of the Mediterranean in ancient and medieval history and to form an opinion based on diverse points of view. The scholarly attitude of the graduate and the methodological and critical processing of expert knowledge related to the field of study are reflected in this analysis and its foundations;
  3. knows how to identify and contextualize the enduring impact of the Mediterranean, and the diverse perceptions of the Mediterranean as a political, religious and cultural centre, from antiquity to the present. The graduate is able to recognize how and why connotations attached to Rome and the Mediterranean were appropriated by different users throughout the centuries;
  4. is able to tackle a problem related to the ancient and medieval history the Mediterranean by means of suitable concepts and research methods. Proceeding from a research question, the graduate knows how to select, analyse and interpret pertinent information;
  5. knows how to present, orally and in writing, the results of his or her research in a well-founded and academic manner, in accurate English;
  6. knows how to organize his or her activities, either individually or as a member of a team. The graduate is able to use the feedback of others to evaluate and adjust their activities; they will learn to detect gaps in their own expertise and how to fill these lacunae through goal-oriented actions. The graduate is able to make well-considered career choices;
  7. knows how to participate in scientific discussions and contribute to public debates in a well-founded manner.