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Discover the history behind today’s great global challenges

History: Global History and International Studies

Learn about the historical roots of globalization, migration, capitalism, and climate change.

How globalization has shaped today’s world

History at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a long tradition in teaching and researching global relations and the history of the international system. The specialisation Global History and International Studies focuses on how the circulation of people, goods and ideas has shaped the world as we know it today. The links between history and contemporary political debates on capitalism, unfree labour, migration, nationalism, identities, and climate change are discussed throughout the specialisation.

We focus on relations between Western countries and both the colonial and  postcolonial world, including South America and Southeast Asia. We also have extensive expertise in Europe-U.S. relations in the wider context of the Atlantic World.

Those who specialise in this programme, in addition to the general subjects of the MA History, take research seminars and specialised tutorials. Your courses will cover a range of issues, such as:

  • the history of capitalism and unfree labour
  • the history of the circulation of racial theories
  • the history of global migrations and diasporas
  • the history of climate and crises

Students interested in pursuing an internship as part of their study programme can propose a project with a collaborating institution, subject to approval from the university.

You have the freedom to choose the subject of your master’s thesis, as long as it linked to the broader field of your specialisation. 

Learn from our experts

You will learn about the latest methods and research from our experts in the field.

The programme is taught by staff from the Chair of Global Economic and Social History (prof. dr. Pepijn Brandon, prof. dr. Ulbe Bosma, and dr. Lucas Poy), the Chair of Water and Environmental History (Prof.dr. Petra van Dam) and the Chair of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective (Prof.dr. Pál Nyiri, dr. Norah Karrouche and dr. Younes Saramifar).

You will have the opportunity to improve your knowledge, network and skills by participating in activities of VU research institutes such as the Environmental Humanities Centre Amsterdam and CLUE+.

Global History and International Studies is a specialisation of the Master History. The start date of this programme is September 1st.

Study Programme

The Master’s degree programme History at VU Amsterdam has a unique character due to the combination of a broad common curriculum and specialisations. The introductory course and the course ‘History and Theory’, given in the same period, ensure a common basis from which to progress, regardless of your disciplinary background. ‘Key works in Contemporary Historical Thought’ helps you to develop your specialisation.

In addition, you will take specialised courses, such as one on the History of Natural Disasters (6EC). Next, you choose from one of the many specialisation tutorials (6EC) on offer. Tutorials offer a great opportunity for students to discuss historical topics in a small scale, open and personalised setting. The tutor is an expert and will provide students with feedback on prepared short assignments. Specialisation tutorials on offer that are part of the specialisation Global History and International Studies cover topics such as Modern China; Europe and the US since 1945; Environmental History.

Furthermore, you will have the option to choose an internship, an extra tutorial of your choice or an elective (6EC).

Finally, you will finish your specialisation programme with a master’s thesis on a topic of your choice within the field of Global History and International Studies.

Find an overview of the courses below. Or view all the courses in our Study Guide.


  • Internship Master History
  • Master Thesis Colloquium History
  • Master Thesis History
  • Tutorial Master History
  • From Source to Public: The Historian's Flowchart
  • Key Works in Contemporary Historical Thought
  • History and Theory
  • History of Natural Disasters
  • Slavery, Abolition and Compensation in the Dutch Colonies in the West and in the East
  • Knowing by Sensing
  • Specialisation Tutorial Master History

You will find the study programme in our studyguide.

Heather Kemp - MA-History student at the VU (from Florida, USA)

Heather Kemp - MA-History student at the VU (from Florida, USA)

"The small class size offers much interaction with professors and peers allowing you to be exposed to many views. Simultaneously there is academic freedom within research topics, so you get the best of both approaches!"

Change your future! Take the Master’s in Global History and International Studies

Change your future! Take the Master’s in Global History and International Studies

After you have completed your master's degree in Global History and International Studies you can start searching for a job. Our alumni have found jobs in a great variety of sectors: from private companies to NGO’s and from media to the games industry. You can also opt for extra courses to become a teacher or continue with a research master programme.

Explore your future prospects
View of the skyscrapers and boats of the Wan Chai district in Hong Kong

Want to know more?

For questions about the Master's Programme:

Contact the coordinator dr. Erika Kuijpers via