Heritage Studies

A spatial perspective on heritage

Heritage Studies

The Master's programme Heritage Studies challenges you to develop a critical view on conservation and transformation of spatial heritage. Our students appreciate the programme for its unique integration of academic interdisciplinary reflections on politics, history, theory and praxis. This exposes tensions between preservation and transformation of landscapes, urban areas, architecture and archaeological remains. Based in the World Heritage city of Amsterdam, the master welcomes both Dutch and international students with an interest in the professional fields of monument preservation, heritage tourism, spatial planning and design.

The courses in the Heritage Studies programme will equip you with knowledge to reflect, but also with methods and skills to act as a heritage expert among architects, spatial planners and policy makers. Opting for the master Heritage Studies brings you into a interdisciplinary environment that encourages you to adopt a spatial perspective with an eye for the past, present ánd future. The teaching staff are architectural historians, archaeologists, historians and (historical) geographers. Each of them performs academic research as part of research institute CLUE+ whereas most also take up responsibilities in the professional heritage field.

Want to know more about this master programme? Read our blog Heritage Studies, for impressions on the subject from both students and staff.

The Master's degree programme Heritage Studies offers a one-year programme of 60 ECTS. We combine lectures with field trips, guest speakers, interactive discussions, group work and case study assignments such as essays, presentations and transformation proposals. Mandatory courses form the core of the programme, but leave many options for individual specalisation through elective courses, free choice of assignment topics, individual tutorials, internships and master theses. To give you an indication: recent master theses have focused on the remains of the Atlantic Wall, Westminster Abbey as a tourist-historic icon, heritage strategies in shrinking regions and the re-use of stolp farms of Noord-Holland.

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:

  • Urban history and heritage
    Archaeology and Heritage of Global Amsterdam (UvA/VU, periode 2)
    Challenging Eternity: Heritage Excursion Rome (KNIR, periode 6)
    Amsterdam: Global Historical Perspectives (level 300, periode 2)
  • Archaeology
    Archaeology and Heritage of Global Amsterdam (UvA/VU, periode 2)
    Archaeology, Museums and the Public (UvA/VU, periode 1)
  • Architecture History
    Architectuurtheorie/Architecturial theory (periode 2-3)
    Excursie buitenland Architectuurgeschiedenis (NL, periode 6)
    Seminar Architecture (periode 1)
    Wooncultuur (NL, periode 5)
  • Historical Geography
    Historische geografie (NL, at UU, level 200, periode 5-6)
  • Spatial planning and urban transformation
    Challenging Eternity: Heritage Excursion Rome (KNIR, periode 6)
    Cultuurhistorie en planning (NL, at UU, level 300, periode 1-2)

Other thematic courses:

  • Sound Heritage (periode 2)
  • Terrorscapes in postwar Europe (periode 4)
  • Trending Topics in Media, Art and Culture (3 points, periode 1-2)

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

VU Amsterdam's online study guide: Heritage Studies (2019-2020).

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 Master's degree programme Heritage Studies 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's programme 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

Dominique van Oeijen


Dominiuqe van Oeijen

“The master Heritage Studies taught me to critically analyze the present and contemporary issues. Cultural heritage in all its forms (e.g. artefacts and architecture, language and dance), is treated from different perspectives: socially, economically, and theoretically. Next to lectures we undertook many domestic and international excursions, to places like Rome and the Ruhr area. Here I gained professional expertise in the field of research, as well as joyful and valuable experiences! With heritage being ‘everywhere’, this master prepares me to become a heritage professional who is employable in every aspect concerning the preservation, conservation and re-use of landscape and built heritage.”

Dutch students

Dutch students can apply via Studielink before June 1st for the master programme Heritage Studies under the label Erfgoedstudies.

After you have applied for the master in Studielink, you will receive within two days emails with your login details for VUnet (VU studentportal). Please complete your application in VUnet.

During this step you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Transcript of records (scan from original)
  • Course descriptions (i.e. for courses related to the discipline of the Master, and for courses on general academic skills)
  • List of literature (the most important literature used for the courses)
  • CV
  • Motivation letter (max. one A4)

Please prepare these documents before you're going to complete your application in VUnet!

Your application will be reviewed by the Admission Board of Faculty of Humanities. You will be informed whether you have been admitted via Studielink. 

Met een HBO-diploma kun je niet direct instromen in de master Heritage studies. Je kunt wel tot de studie worden toegelaten nadat je de premaster Heritage studies met succes hebt afgerond. Als je tot de premasterclass bent toegelaten met een HBO-diploma, dan is deelname aan een premasterassessment verplicht.

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

Aanmelding en toelatingsprocedure
Je kunt je tot uiterlijk 1 juni aanmelden via Studielink voor de premaster Erfgoedstudies.

Na aanmelding in Studielink ontvang je binnen twee dagen een e-mail met je inlogcodes voor VUnet (VU studentenportal). In VUnet rond je je aanmelding af.

In deze fase dien je de volgende documenten te uploaden:

  • cijferlijst (scan van origineel)
  • vakbeschrijvingen (m.n. voor de vakken in het vakgebied van de master, en op het gebied van algemene academische vaardigheden)
  • literatuurlijst (de belangrijkste literatuur die gebruikt is voor deze vakken)
  • CV
  • motivatiebrief (max. één A4 tje)

Zorg er dus voor dat je deze al klaar hebt, wanneer je je aanmelding in VUnet gaat afronden! Zodra er een toelatingsverklaring afgegeven wordt, ontvang je hier bericht over van Studielink. Deze toelatingsverklaring wordt afgegeven door de Toelatingscommissie van de Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen.

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. L.R. Egberts
E l.r.egberts@vu.nl

Information days
Meet us in Amsterdam!


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
  • 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 and a list of all the main literature

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:
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 www.vu.nl/scholarships or www.grantfinder.nl

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. L.R. Egberts
E l.r.egberts@vu.nl

For questions about application, admission, accommodation in Amsterdam and other practical questions
Please contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office: 

Irena Paap
T:+31 (20) 59 85252
E: masters.hum@vu.nl

Information days
Meet us at the next Master's Event!

Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our student ambassadors are listed here on this webpage: vu.nl/ambassadors.

Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!

Overview Heritage Studies




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


1 June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.


1 September




Art, Culture and History