Archival Studies

Take Leiden University’s MA History specialisation Archival Studies and equip yourself with the skills needed to guide users of historical archives as a professional archivist. Your primary focus will be on learning how to appraise, select and acquire archives based on their societal and cultural context, to make archives accessible from their historical context, and to understand the context within which the archives have been compiled.

Choose Archival Studies at Leiden University:

  • Apply theory in practice as you learn thanks to the programme’s structural collaboration with the National Archive in The Hague.
  • Learn how to manage archives created in a colonial context both during class and through your own research, including how to make them accessible for historical research.
  • Study the relationship between institutions and the archives left behind – i.e. the underlying reasons why the archives were compiled including the societal context within which the institutions were founded and operated, and the reasons particular records were kept.
  • Acquire the skills needed by archivists today. Your master’s education will prepare you for a future career as an archivist unlike any other programme in the Netherlands.

Archives created colonial context

A particular focus during the programme is on the archives created in a colonial context. In Jakarta alone there are in excess of 10 kilometres of Dutch-language archive material collected by the Dutch East India company and colonial institutions. In other South-east Asian countries, South Africa, Surinam and the Dutch Antilles there are many more hundreds of kilometres of Dutch-language archive material. Learn the skills needed to manage these archives and make them accessible for historical research.


Your new knowledge and skills from your Master’s in Archival Studies will also reflect those required of archivists in response to digitisation. Archivists today must be more than specialists in the field of structuring and describing archives, palaeography, diplomacy, institutional history but equipped in the compilation and management of archives within the framework of information science.

Unique area of expertise

Your qualification and its specialised focus gives you a unique area of expertise in the Netherlands. Our public archive system needs archivists trained in historical science and specialised in historical archival studies – where many archives can only be understood in their historical context and require archivists who can facilitate their use as substantive sources of historical research.

Leiden University’s Archival Studies specialisation is the only institution focused on training students to meet this need.

Check out the programme in Archival Studies

Master details

  • This is a specialisation of: History
  • Degree Master of Arts in History
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Duration 1 year
  • Start date September, February
  • Language of instruction English
  • Location Leiden
  • Croho/isat code 66034

Find your master's at Leiden University