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Programme information

Final qualifications
Future prospects and PhD positions
Programme structure


The research masters in Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies build on the bachelor level in relevant disciplines. At the conclusion of the research master programme, the student has reached the level of an independent university graduate with the ambitions, knowledge and skills for research, combining his disciplinary training with a broad scholarly outlook. As a graduate, he / she is able to apply the acquired competences in a wide academic and professional field.

Final qualifications

After the completion of the research master the graduate has acquired:

1. advanced scientific insight into the HLCS field of specialisation (History, Literary Studies, Art and Visual culture) and the ability to critically analyse and interpret phenomena and developments in this field using approaches from various disciplines;
2. comprehensive knowledge of and insight into current theoretical, historiographical and methodological developments in the field of specialisation;
3. knowledge of leading theories and current developments in the Humanities as well as the ability to reflect critically on the nature of different disciplines and their methods;
4. insight into and vision of the role of the Humanities in topical debates regarding cultural and societal changes;
5. the ability to develop and execute research plans in the field of specialisation, to access and manage complex information with adequate command of advanced heuristic skills, and with adequate knowledge of the auxiliary sciences and ICT;
6. the ability to write an in depth and comprehensive research report on a topic from the discipline, based on thorough, independent and critical research, and embedded in the wider theoretical framework of the humanities, particularly a master thesis and a scholarly article;
7. the ability to communicate one's own research and that of others orally and otherwise, both for a scholarly audience and a general public, also with use of modern tools and devices;
8. insight in research funding strategy and academic career prospects; the ability to organize career-furthering activities such as a stay at an academic institute abroad and the design of a grant proposal.

In summary, graduates are prepared to conduct original research in which they consider complex problems with a multidisciplinary outlook on the basis of disciplinary competences, theoretically grounded but with a strong awareness of the materiality of history. They are able to analyse history, literary, material and visual culture in different contexts from the perspective of the Humanities, to report this at an advanced level and to share their research in presentations for, and debates with a wider audience. The programmes' goal is to equip you to make original contributions to on-going scientific research in one of the aforementioned (specialised) academic disciplines. Despite being specialised, you will be fully capable of working in a broader scholarly context. Moreover, you will be able to debate the significance of your research and methodologies with scholars from related fields and assess the societal significance of culture in the past and the present.

The research masters differ fundamentally from the regular masters in their distinct focus on research, a stronger emphasis on skills of argument and presentation and a closer intertwining of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. Therefore, the objectives of this two-year programme greatly exceed the level maintained by one-year master's programmes.

Future prospects and PhD positions

This cluster of programmes offers an excellent stepping stone to a scholarly career. Its affiliation with various research institutes and networks is an undeniable advantage. The combination of breadth, depth and interdisciplinary exchange ensures that you are well equipped for a career in scientific research. Moreover, Radboud graduates are qualified for other posts with research oriented duties at a high academic level without having the aim of a doctoral degree, such as researcher in a cultural or scientific organisation, assistant of a senior researcher, teaching staff in institutions for higher education, policy-making official in the fields of culture and science, editor in the field of historical or cultural scholarship, curator or director in the museological sector, critic, scientific staff member of heritage and conservation institutions or archaeological agencies, critic, scientific staff member of publishing companies and text agencies.

Programme structure

The programme carries 120 EC credits, spread over two full-time academic years (four semesters). New students can begin the curriculum only at the beginning of the academic year in September. All assignments have to be submitted in English.

The programme is built on three buttresses: one disciplinary in Historical Studies / Literary Studies / Art and Visual Culture (40 EC), one interdisciplinary in the Humanities (20 EC), one elective (both disciplinary and interdisciplinary) with choices to be made from regular master courses and from national programmes (30 EC). The end result of this tripartite structure is the master thesis on a disciplinary subject, executed with adequate methods, preferably from various disciplines and based on theories from the Humanities (30 EC). This structure is the same for all three collaborating HLCS research master programmes.

The disciplinary line is developed in the first two semesters and broadened in the third semester with an intensive learning experience in the professional skills of the discipline in the Research Training, culminating in the thesis in the fourth semester. You will choose your disciplinary specialisation under the supervision of senior researchers. Each student must select a tutor at the beginning of the first semester.

The first semester includes two courses from the interdisciplinary line. This line is continued with two courses in the second semester. The cluster of courses common to all three research masters develops your capacity to transcend your own discipline in knowledge, theoretical outlook and methodical skills by providing training in several aspects of the Humanities. The joint HLCS courses (20 EC) for the research masters in Historical Studies, Art and Visual Culture, and Literary Studies encourage you to discover and reflect on historical and contemporary humanities debates in a national and international context. This stems from the belief that the conscious and well-planned expansion of your (sub) discipline will transform you into a confident and flexible member of the intellectual community and prepare you for successful competition with your national and international peers.

The elective buttress consists of two parts: courses of regular master programmes (20 EC) and courses offered by national research schools (10 EC). All optional modules will be chosen in agreement with the tutor. Language courses and transferable skill modules are excluded. The final assignments will have to be accomplished in English.

You can further tailor the curriculum to your own preferences and specifications within the general framework of the programme. The Research Training abroad is a substantial disciplinary component, shaped by the individual choice and preference of each student (20 EC). In principle, all students are expected to spend a period of four months abroad where they participate in a stimulating research environment. In general, a stay abroad will include practice in a relevant research group, combined with following applicable classes, or an internship at an internationally renowned institution. For foreign students in the programme similar training projects in the Netherlands might be taken into account. In close consultation with the tutor and the intended supervisor abroad, you will make a detailed proposal of the research training.

In the preparatory route towards the thesis a special training (5 EC) focuses on the writing of a scholarly article and of a research proposal according to the format of research funding organisations, both related to the subject of the thesis. The article is an exercise in the presentation of a scientific problem that in both form and profundity makes it publishable, in principle, in a recognised journal. The research proposal is an exercise in putting together a proposal -related to the thesis research - in the form of a submission to the NWO.

The master's thesis (30 EC including preparation trajectory) will cover a disciplinary subject, dealt with in a multidisciplinary / interdisciplinary perspective within a reasoned theoretical framework and with adequate, considered methods. The thesis must be clearly formulated, compiled and annotated in accordance with the rules and regulations set forth by the relevant discipline. It must be written in English; only in the case of specific language studies it may be written in the relevant language.