Humanities Research Masters

Connecting Humanities for Imaginative Research

Humanities research master

The Humanities Research Master is a unique programme that provides extensive training in research design, within the context of an inspiring and sustainable interdisciplinary research environment. The VU Humanities Research Master offers an excellent route to prepare yourself for an internationally oriented, scientific career, or for other research related positions. During the intensive curriculum you will develop in depth knowledge of the theories, methods and techniques of your research field, learn to connect with other science fields, develop your research skills and your talent to pose innovative questions, and learn to relate your research with societal issues. To support highly motivated and excellent students, we offer various scholarships.

Humanities connected
The Humanities can boast on a century long, dynamic tradition, with a large variety in themes, methods and connections between its knowledge fields: arts, culture, history, literature, linguistics, and philosophy. At this moment, the Humanities are in transition: world wide, scholars are challenged to re-establish and communicate the value of humanities research. VU Humanities Research Master takes up this challenge. We aim to educate humanities researchers who know how to design innovative, imaginative research across disciplines. In close collaboration with highly acclaimed research groups you will develop techniques to connect your research with current societal challenges, and to communicate the results to a broad audience. You will be able to profit from the extensive network our teams have built up with heritage institutions, research institutes, NGO’s and business partners, for internships and embedded research projects.

Students enrol for the humanities research master through one of the specializations.

The Humanities Research Master offers these specializations:

Critical Studies in Art and Culture
Humanities Research: Critical Studies in Art and Culture
Humanities Research: Global History
Humanities Research: Literature & Contested Spaces
Linguistics afbeelding klein
Humanities Research: Linguistics
Humanities Research: Philosophy

Cross-cutting themes: Digital & Environmental Humanities

Digital Humanities is a cross-cutting theme of the Humanities Research Master. The track designed to train humanities students as data analysts of the future. In our globalizing and increasingly digital world of big data, urge is growing for analysts who are trained in comparing complex and long term sets of quantitative and qualitative data. The sources and objects studied in history, media, literature, and linguistics are increasingly becoming available digitally. We need digitally trained students who are able to track news reports and social debates, who master “distant reading techniques” to trace and understand the changing impact of ideas, individuals, and institutions over time.

The Digital Humanities track offers you the opportunity to develop computational competence relevant for your discipline. Students will learn how to create, interpret and analyse different types of data collections using computational tools. To become a Digital Humanities expert, you will follow an introductory course in Digital Humanities, several Human Language Technology courses offered by the internationally acclaimed Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab (CLTL), and courses offered by your specialization. Through a combination of courses, internships and electives you will be trained to redesign traditional hermeneutic and empirical humanities methods into computational techniques and to evaluate the differences between the methods used in (digital) research projects. You will learn to investigate and apply forms of data analysis that look critically at big data from multiple sources and perspectives.

The track prepares students for a (research) career in the fast growing area of digital humanities, or in career in science journalism, data analytics, digital collection management, etc.

Digital Humanities Scholarship
In 2017 NETWORK INSTITUTE OF VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT AMSTERDAM offers a Digital Humanities Scholarship for an excellent and highly motivated student. Please see our scholarship page for more information.

Download flyer Digital Humanities

One of the most pressing concerns in our present world is the environmental crisis. The threat of major climate change has made us aware that we live in a connected world: humans exist not in a vacuum, but always in relation to their surroundings, to others, to socio-political and cultural structures. This principle of interconnectedness is the focal point of the Environmental Humanities theme.
Relations between humans and their environment have long been central to various disciplinary courses and research projects within the Faculty of Humanities at VU Amsterdam, especially in the departments of History, Art and Culture, and Literature. The History department, for example, is a key institute in Dutch environmental humanities: it published a seminal survey on the environmental history of the Netherlands (Groene geschiedenis van Nederland, 1993) and hosted the first global conference of the European Society for Environmental History in 2008. Environmental Humanities brings these disciplinary interests into conversation with each other to create new connections both within and outside the humanities.

Students who choose this theme are encouraged to connect questions, issues and methodologies to probe pressing environmental concerns from the basis of their disciplinary track. In the second semester of their first year, they begin their specialisation with a core course in the Environmental Humanities. Building on the knowledge of the field’s key concepts, debates and methodologies they acquired in that course, they specialize further in the environmental humanities in courses and tutorials, combining their disciplinary training and knowledge with the interdisciplinary perspective of their specialisation. The environmental humanities specialisation thus teaches students not only to apply their disciplinary methodologies and perspectives to environmental issues, but also to make creative connections to other humanities disciplines. Moreover, it trains a generation of students aware of the value of the humanities in exploring pressing environmental concerns.

Download an overview of the programme Environmental Humanities (pdf).

If you are interested in specializing in the Environmental Humanities within the Research Master Humanities, please contact Dr Kristine Steenbergh ( for more information.


Please check the specializations for information on the programme, admission, and scholarships. If you have any questions about the Humanities Research Master, please contact the Graduate School of Humanities.

For International students
Questions about studying at VU Amsterdam as an international student? Please contact our International Office:

Stipo Jelec

To find out more about the research environment at VU Amsterdam, visit these pages:

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