Erfgoedstudies: Heritage Studies

A spatial perspective on heritage

Master Heritage Studies: mission and aims

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities, is the only faculty in Europe that, departing from a spatial perspective, offers an interdisciplinary programme problematizing the tensions between maintenance, memory and renewal in the transformation of heritage. The interdisciplinary approach leads to new insights in the opportunities to give heritage a position in spatial planning processes that will determine the future appearance of European cities and regions.
Most people find heritage essential as a carrier of their environment and consider it an unmistakable part of culture. They see a connection between the visual and material features of objects, ensembles and structures, and the people as their creators and those who remember. This connection can be strengthened by the dissemination of knowledge, access to space and memory cultures, documenting, presenting. These actions can be worthwhile as such, but also in complex transformation processes, in which remembrance, business, governance and policy are at stake. It may even be that not all memories and remembrance events are welcome, but need to be integrated. The landscape of memory is freckled with obstacles and contested sites.
The spatial and memory approach is the general denominator of the international master Heritage Studies. Space is understood as a visually and socially localized entity and as such a deposit of old(er) historical layers and historical (sometimes painful) events. Memory is fused with sites or stored in institutions, nations, groups or individuals.

The staff of the master includes architectural historians, archaeologists, historians and historical geographers. Staff-members are connected to research within the interdisciplinary heritage Research Institute CLUE+, jointly founded by a number of faculties of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. CLUE+ initiates, develops and exchanges research into spatial transformations and memory processes.

Enroll directly at Studielink for this programme.

The master Heritage Studies offers a one year programme of 60 ECTS. Education consists of combinations of lectures and workshops, including much space for debates. A special addition are lectures on location with visits to projects, institutions, landscapes or cities. In view of heritage practice also lectures are given by experts from the working field. The examination forms are written and oral and individual commissions like presentations and essays are often part of exams. Students finish their master study with a thesis.

Four core modules are compulsory:

  • Historical Landscape and Archaeological Heritage
  • Architectural and Town Planning Heritage
  • The Biography of Landscape
  • Transformations: Meeting Designers

Several optional modules:

Politics of international heritage2
Terrorscapes in postwar Europe4
Archaeology, Museums and the Public (UvA/VU)1
Seminar Architecture1
Historische geografie (NL, at UU, level 200)1-2
Trending Topics in Media, Art and Culture (3 points)1-2
Amsterdam: Global Historical Perspectives (level 300)                                                                                                       
Archaeology and Heritage of Global Amsterdam   (UvA/VU)2
Wooncultuur (NL)5
Excursie buitenland Architectuurgeschiedenis (NL)6
Cultuurhistorie en planning (NL, at UU, level 300)5-6
Challenging Eternity: Heritage Excursion Rome (KNIR) 6

With permission from examination committee:

  • Internship (max 12 EC)
  • Individual reflection a & b 
  • Studying abroad
  • Other electives from other programmes, such as history, city planning, building archaeology or historical geography

Schematic outline of the programme


Heritage studies courses in the study guide

With your diploma in Heritage Studies you are an expert to negotiate with designers, planners, board members, politicians, entrepreneurs and other decision makers. National, provincial and municipal government bodies and stakeholders in the market need highly educated professionals who contribute heritage knowledge in societal issues, policy matters and design questions in the spatial arena.

There is also a need for experts who follow governance and policy in spatial planning with their critical intellectual observations and who can found or formulate alternative policies in a scientific manner, integrating heritage and memory in plans for the future spatial organisation of European countries. 

And of course heritage experts are wanted in the institutions for the protection and conservation of buildings and sites which is oriented towards valuation, selection and protection of heritage objects and complexes.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers the only Heritage Studies master programme that focuses on a spatial perspective in Europe. The university has a highly international character and outlook, making it the ideal place to study heritage in an international context. The Amsterdam Canal District is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town of Amsterdam is internationally renowned as a city of culture, art and tolerance. It offers a great context for studying spatial heritage in relationship to urban transformations and tourism. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is conveniently situated on a central location with easy access to public transport.

The master Heritage Studies offers an interesting and useful Master study for:

  • Students with a finished graduate (bachelor) education in:
    - Archaeology
    - Art History (with a specialisation in architectural history)
    - Ancient Studies (provided that 60 ECTS is spent on archaeology)
    - Human Geography (with knowledge of historical geography)
    - History (with some specialisation in environmental or city-country relations)

    • Students with a finished graduate (bachelor) education in one of the following design disciplines:
    - Planning
    - Architecture
    - Landscape Architecture
    - Town Planning (preferably with a focus on the history of the built environment or the history of the discipline)

    • Professionals working in:
    - the heritage and/or spatial sector
    - governmental (or governance related) research institutions in the domain of heritage, spatial planning and the environment
    - heritage or planning advisory offices
    - architecture, landscape architecture and town planning

Overview Erfgoedstudies: Heritage Studies

Language of instruction



1 year, credits can be spread out over two years in individual cases

Application deadline

1 June for Dutch. 1 April for EU and non-EU Students.*

Start date

1 September

Study type


Field of Interest

Art, Culture and History

Dutch students

In order to be admitted to the master Heritage Studies (60 ECTS) you must enroll at the latest on 1 June via Studielink (; then you will receive an e-mail with your inlogcodes for VU-net (VU student’s portal). In VU-net you finish your enrollment and you can upload your passport photo. Finally you have to send the following documents by email:

As soon as the admission document has been produced by the Admission Board, you will receive a message via Studielink.

NB: This procedure is only applicable when you are not a student of the Faculty of Humanities of VU Universiteit.

Trajectory master
Download the scheme (pdf) in which the enrolment trajectory is shown.

Met een HBO-diploma kun je niet direct instromen in de master Erfgoedstudies. Je kunt wel tot de studie worden toegelaten nadat je de premaster Erfgoedstudies met succes hebt afgerond. Als je tot de premasterclass bent toegelaten met een HBO-diploma, dan is deelname aan een assessment verplicht. Kijk hier voor meer informatie over het premasterassessment.

Aanmelding en toelatingsprocedure
Je kunt je tot uiterlijk 1 juni aanmelden via Studielink voor de premaster Erfgoedstudies. Na aanmelding in Studielink ontvang je een e-mail met je inlogcodes voor VUnet (VU studentenportal). In VUnet rond je je aanmelding af en moet je de volgende documenten uploaden:

Zodra er een toelatingsverklaring afgegeven wordt, ontvang je hier bericht over van Studielink. Deze toelatingsverklaring wordt afgegeven door de Examencommissie van de Graduate School.

Meer informatie
Neem voor meer informatie over de toelating contact op met de studieadviseur (

A premaster programme for international students is in preparation. The text below is aimed at Dutch students. Please contact Dr. Freek Schmidt if you have any questions regarding premaster courses for international students.

Als je niet voldoet aan de vooropleidingseisen, dan kun je tot de master Heritage Studies worden toegelaten nadat je de premaster Heritage Studies met succes hebt afgerond. Daarin werk je je deficiënties weg. De premaster bestaat uit minimaal 30 en maximaal 60 studiepunten. Op grond van je vooropleiding en specialisatiewensen bepaalt de examencommissie hoe jouw individuele premasterprogramma eruitziet.

In alle gevallen kan met het premasterprogramma, dat vastgesteld wordt door de examencommissie, uitsluitend in september gestart worden.

Als je tot de premasterclass bent toegelaten met een hbo-diploma, dan is deelname aan een premasterassessment verplicht.

Premasterprogramma 2016/17

Naam vakPeriodeCreditsCode
Ba-scriptie architectuurgeschiedenisAc. Jaar (september)9.0L_KBBAAGSCR
Architectuur: een geschiedenis
Periode 1
Academische vaardigheden Kunst en Cultuur
Periode 2
Stedebouw en landschap
Periode 2
Bachelorscriptie colloquium architectuurgeschiedenis
Periode 4+5
Academic English
Periode 6

If you need more information, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

For questions about the programme and our courses, please contact the coordinator of the programme:
Dr. F.H. Schmidt

International students

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.

Specific admission requirements for the Master’s programme Heritage Studies

The MA Heritage Studies is open to Students who have completed a Bachelor’s degree  in: Archaeology; Art History (with a specialization in Architectural History); Ancient Studies (provided that 60 ECTS is spent on Archaeology); Social Geography (with knowledge of Historical Geography); History (with some specialization in environmental or city-country relations); or Students who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in one of the following design disciplines: Planning; Architecture; Landscape Architecture; Town planning (preferably with a focus on the history of the built environment or the history of the discipline).

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 programmes 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.

Please refer to the language requirement page for the general requirements regarding the English language test.

If you have read the admission criteria 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 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 programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!

Further information about;
Tuition fees

As an international student planning to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries. Detailed information about scholarships and deadlines can be found on or

If you need more information, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

For questions about the programme and our courses, please contact the coordinator of the programme:
Dr. F.H. Schmidt

For questions about application procedures, information on enrolling in our programme, admission requirements, accommodation in Amsterdam and other practical questions, please contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:
Irena Bunic
t +31 (20) 59 85252

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