About the PhD programme

The Huizinga Institute – Research School for Cultural History’s curriculum is designed for graduate students in cultural history. It aims to provide research master students and PhDs with a coherent programme of courses in cultural history, with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity, method, and theory. Education at the School is divided into three strands:

  1. Core courses in cultural history (CC 1-3) for PhD candidates. Focusing on methods, theories and skills particular to the cultural historian, this 10-point programme aims to allow students to develop into all-round professional cultural historians. PhDs can expand this to 12 EC by organising a cultural historical event in CC3.
  2. Thematic courses on interdisciplinary subjects (for RMa students and PhDs). With these modules, rotating every year, students can pursue their thematic interests or broaden their expertise.
  3. Summerschools, International courses, Masterclasses and Workshops (RMA students and PhDs). Tightly focused and intensive, these courses and activities are often (co-)organised by students. They allow them to delve into a subject with renowned experts in inspiring surroundings

Furthermore, PhD candidates are expected, and RMA students encouraged, to participate in at least one of the Institute’s working groups. Working groups are ‘vertical’ groups, consisting of senior members and students with shared research interests in all phases of their studies. The groups, which are organised by students themselves, serve as reading groups, platforms for feedback, and breeding grounds for student-organised activities such as lectures and masterclasses (see also CC3 – Core Courses for PhD candidates).

Read more about each part of our PhD programme below or find our curriculum for 2020-2021 here.


Core Courses for PhD candidates

The CCs constitute the central programme for PhDs. PhD candidates are expected to participate in the full, 10-point programme, which they can supplement with the 2-point organisation of an event in CC3.


CC1: Positioning and designing your research (4 ECTS)

Course description

During CC1 PhD candidates who have just started their project are introduced to the broad field of professional cultural history. In six sessions, they meet their peers and various inspiring experts to build their national network and reflect on the methods, theories and practices in the field, on interdisciplinarity, and the relevance of their own work. They learn to better position their project in a highly interdisciplinary environment, and to access experts and expertise that might be relevant to their project’s success. All in all, the course aims to help them fulfil the transition from being a student to a professional historian.

The course is concluded by a position paper of 2-3000 words that builds towards their end-of-year go/no-go chapter. At the end of the course, students have joined or committed to organise a working group of Huizinga members, which functions as a sounding board throughout the remainder of their PhD. This course is open to beginning PhD candidates only.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students feel equipped to deal with the practical challenges of being a professional cultural historian. In addition they

  • can position their project amongst the various constituent parts of cultural history
  • have a clear sense of the available expertise in the field and the possibilities for interdisciplinary cross-fertilization
  • can explain their project and its relevance to various audiences both within the broader cultural historical community and in society at large
  • enhance their methodological and theoretical knowledge


The course consists of six sessions. The first sessions is a full-day meeting, the other ones take the form of three-hour workshops. Each year, course elements may alternate according to evaluations and the needs of the year’s group of students.


  1. Introduction: (Harald Hendrix): During this session students are introduced to the course as well as to the Huizinga Research School and what it might offer them. Students present their projects in 10-minute presentations. The main goals are 1) to get to know each other’s research and 2) to learn how to best present a complex project to a diverse academic audience.
  1. Working in Cultural History (Anna Tijsseling): In this much-valued session, academic coach Anna Tijsseling helps students to identify the practical challenges awaiting PhDs in cultural history, and how best to respond to them.
  1. Positioning Your Research (Jan Hein Furnée)
  2. Interdisciplinarity as a Challenge [t.b.c.]: Almost all research in cultural history draws or bears on several subdisciplines within the humanities. Some might even engage with other domains altogether, especially with the social sciences. This session teaches you to deal with the challenges of interdisciplinarity. How to navigate two or more fields at once? How to determine your audience and conversation partners?
  3. Getting the Question Right, and Answering It (Erika Kuijpers and Judith Pollmann): This session will focus on sharpening the research questions in your project, and on how to best operationalize them.
  1. Final session (Harald Hendrix): One afternoon session devoted to discussing the papers and closing discussion.


CC2: The cultural historian’s toolbox

CC2 focuses on concepts, sources, and methods in cultural history, with a pronounced hands-on element. It enables students to develop their methodological skills, based on their own research objects and interests. The course consists of small modules which alternate every year to ensure optimal choice. Only the reviewing course recurs every year. New modules will added over time, based on the interests and needs of our PhDs. PhDs follow two modules to obtain 4 EC.

Each of the modules takes the form of workshop of three sessions, organised in cooperation with the Huizinga Research School’s partner institutions, such as the Rijksmuseum and the Huygens Institute. The modules are open to both PhD candidates and RMA students. In case of oversubscription, PhDs take precedence over RMAs.

Module PointsCourse coordination and partners
Memory studies2 ectsBarbara Henkes (RUG), Dienke Hondius (VU) and Susan Hogervorst (EUR).

Partners (tbc): KITLV, NIOD, Anne Frankhuis.

Material and visual culture2 ectsAnn-Sophie Lehmann. Partners (tbc): Rijksmuseum
Digital Text Analysis2 ectsHuygens Institute
Cultuurhistorisch recenseren2 ectsFloris Cohen

CC3: Cultural history in action

The CC3 course allows members (both PhD and RMA) to develop their interests and work on their professional competence. It consists of various activities, in different stages of their education. Each PhD candidate participates in part 1 and 3 for 2EC. PhDs can additionally select module 2 to obtain 4 EC in total.

  1. Participation in Working Group (obligatory)

At the end of CC1, each PhD candidate selects a working group in which to participate. Within the working groups, which consist of both senior and junior members of the institute, recent work [in progress] is discussed. Also, the working groups initiate events that are of interest to their theme. Because active participation is expected, all students hand in a report on (a selection of) the activities of their group at the end of their second year. A form for this report can be found on the Institute’s web page. Should there not be a working group that suits a student’s interest, they can organise a new one for additional credits, provided that there is sufficient interest within the Institute.

  1. Organisation of cultural historical event or working group (optional)

Each PhD candidate should participate in the organisation of at least one cultural historical event or group. Organisational teams should consist of two to three students. Supported by the Huizinga office, they deal with the entire process, from conceptualisation and applying for financial support from the Huizinga Institute to making practical arrangements and hosting the event. In order to obtain the study points, students submit a brief final report to the office.

Organise Masterclass, workshop, or seminar: 2 ects

Organise Lecture: 2 ects

Organisation of working group: 2 ects 

  1. Participation in Huizinga Symposium (obligatory)

PhDs are encouraged to participate every year. In their third year, they present their research (2 EC). RMa students participate at least once as auditors and write a short report on the symposium (1 EC).


Thematic Courses for RMA students

Thematic courses are designed for RMA students, but open to PhDs when places are available. They focus on varying, mostly topical, cultural historical subjects. Each year, at least three thematic courses are organized (15 ECTS). ‘Key Concepts in Cultural History’ is offered every year and ‘Heritage and Memory Theory’ every other year. The other theme courses are offered according to a rotating scheme, to facilitate optimal choice.

A (non-exhaustive) list of our thematic courses:


ModulePointsCourse coordination
‘Key Concepts in Cultural History’ (offered every year)5 ECWillemijn Ruberg (UU)
Heritage and Memory Theory Seminar (offered every other year)5 ECIhab Saloul (UvA)
Gender, Sexuality and Generation5 ECGeertje Mak (KNAW/UvA)
History and Popular Culture5 ECRachel Gillet and Jochen Hung (UU)
Cultures of Reading5 ECArnoud Visser (UU)
Imagining the Self and Other5 ECYolanda Rodríguez Pérez (UvA)
Environmental History5 ECtbc
History of Knowledge5 ECtbc

Summerschools, international courses, masterclasses and workshops

Each year, the Huizinga Institute offers a Summerschool (5 EC) with a different theme, in collaboration with a different university. Furthermore, we offer an international course with a changing theme, co-organised with, and hosted by, the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (5 EC).

In addition to these larger courses, we offer several masterclasses and seminars that are often co-organised by students. Open to all graduate students, these activities are themed differently each year, responding to both current developments and topical interests and to students’ needs.


Would you like to become a member of the Huizinga Institute? Find all information here.

Course registration policy

Members from other research schools are welcome to register for Huizinga Institute courses and activities. However, own members from the Huizinga Institute will have first access until a set date that is communicated in the course announcement. Students from other research schools will be placed on a waiting list. After the communicated date, free places will be offered to the students on the waiting list (in order of registration). Members of the Huizinga Institute that register after the priority date, will be added to the existing waiting list in order of registration. An exception is made for Huizinga RMA members who start their research master in February, since they missed the previous first access moment. They will be placed on top of the waiting list.