Iris van Nederpelt is a student
"While I was writing the thesis for my History Bachelor, Prof. Josine Blok (my supervisor) asked me if I had thought about doing the RMA Ancient Studies. I told her that I did not necessarily want to pursue a research career and that I wanted to work at a (ancient) history museum and make exhibitions. This is when she informed me that there was now also a ‘heritage track’ within the RMA. I decided to apply, since the RMA would allow me to specialize in ancient history and teach me more about heritage management.
I have not regretted this decision thus far. I now have more in depth knowledge of ancient history because of courses like ‘Ancient Greek citizenship’, epigraphy and numismatics (a course I took at Leiden University). Besides, although the heritage courses still need some improving (it was the first time they were taught) they taught me about the Dutch heritage sector and broadened my horizon when it comes to career opportunities.
In addition, I was determined to get an internship at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (NMA), since it is my ultimate dream to work here as an ‘Exhibitions Project Manager’ one day. I took matters into my own hands and wrote an e-mail to one of the project managers (from the NMA). She was happy to receive my email and told me that I was more than welcome to do an internship at the museum. From February to the end of June 2018 I helped produce the exhibition ‘Two centuries young’ (‘Al 200 jaar van nu’) at the museum and revived the ‘Topstukken route’ (which allows people to do a short tour of the museum and see its master pieces). I think this internship is an important step in the direction of a career in the heritage sector. I worked on my network and gained a lot of practical experience, something courses at the university would not have been able to give me.
After my graduation I am going to work really hard to get a job as an exhibitions project manager, so I will be able to transfer everything I have learned to a wide audience and hopefully inspire others to also study ancient history."
Mark Visscher is a student
“Before enrolling to this Master I was a BA student at the University of Amsterdam where I studied Dutch Language and Culture. After graduating my Bachelor’s I felt like I wanted to learn more about medieval literature and culture. I was not sure which Master to choose, because a lot of programmes have a focus on either literature or general history only. Luckily, the Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Master at Utrecht University allows me to study both! The thing I like most about the programme is that I can both specialise further in what I have been doing during my BA, while at the same time I follow courses on medieval history, written culture and other related topics.
Since the programme is entirely taught in English, I had to put some effort in to improve my academic English. Naturally, I had not gained much experience with writing in English during my BA. Luckily the professors are very helpful in assisting you as to how to present your ideas in a convincing way. I feel like the programme really prepares you for a career in academia; you are trained to think critically, explore new ideas yourself and to reflect on academic relevance. There is also a practical side of being a researcher in which you are trained: I have learnt how to write research proposals and present my ideas to non- and semi-specialist audiences.
One thing I particularly enjoy is that there is a lot of freedom as to how you design your own Master programme. There are plenty of opportunities for students to do internships, study abroad or apprenticeships. Utrecht has many specialists working on the Middle Ages, so finding someone who is willing to tutor you in a research project is not too hard. During one of my apprenticeships I had the chance to be the co-author of an article for an international peer-reviewed journal.
In the near future I hope to find a PhD position somewhere in the Netherlands or abroad. Being a student in this Master programme has made me more convinced of my capabilities to pursue an academic career.”
Kay Boers is a PHD Candidate at Utrecht University
“As I completed my Bachelor in History here at Utrecht University, I was looking for a Master’s program that would help me develop my own peculiar research interest in Late Antique history from an interdisciplinary perspective.
As I was perusing through the various research Master programs on offer, I noticed that none of them, but Utrecht, allowed me to borrow and switch between the Ancient and Medieval tracks. This was something I believed would be absolutely necessary for anyone trying to thoroughly understand the Late Antique world: after all, one needs substantial knowledge of both Ancient and Medieval periods in order to properly comprehend the one in between. The Ancient and Medieval departments in Utrecht had this knowledge on offer and they had long since acquired international renown for their interdisciplinary focus. Utrecht presented itself as the best possible choice. But perhaps more importantly, I had come to know Utrecht University as a place where the lines of communication between student and supervisors were healthily short, and in which there had always been room for students to adapt the curriculum to their personal preferences.
In the end, the choice was easily made and it is one of those choices from which I still benefit enormously as a PHD candidate and lecturer today. During the course of the program, my supervisors indeed allowed me to switch and pick from the Medieval and Ancient tracks at leisure. And even though some of the courses that actually were compulsory may appear to have centred almost exclusively on methodological issues, I was always allowed to focus on topics which were relevant to my own particular interests. This flexibility, alongside the multidisciplinary focus of the curriculum, not only helped me to study what I wanted whenever and in whichever place I could find it, it also helped me discover what I am actually good at.
Looking back, what I particularly love about this program is that it not only managed to simulate the practical research endeavours and daily routine of my research job today, it always gave you the sense that your endeavours actually mattered. Yes, on the surface, of course, you were only studying to become a researcher, but you always felt that you were actually contributing to existing fields of study. Even better, sometimes you actually did, and supervisors would help you in any way possible to publish your findings and present them to fellow researchers.”
Historian Marc van Hasselt works as a Project Manager at Archeon
“After my Bachelor in History, I was eager to continue researching. During my Master’s I specialised in the Burgundian period, particularly the literature of that period. Though I applied for several PhD positions after graduation, I also started working in Archeon to pay the bills. Since I already knew people within the organisation because of my earlier work there, it only took a single phonecall to be offered a full-time job. At first I worked as a swordfighting instructor, but after six months I was asked to become their event manager.
In this position, I am responsible for planning and executing thematic events, in coordination with all the departments of the park. I also keep in touch with different groups and people from outside Archeon who provide unique services and skills for specific events. My tasks are diverse: on busy days I am often asked to go into the Medieval section and help out by giving swordfighting classes or to perform in the arena as a gladiator. I enjoy it tremendously, to bring history to life for a broad interested audience.
Also, since 2011, I got involved in the OpenArch project, giving me the opportunity to represent Archeon at different conferences and events throughout Europe. Luckily I also have the chance to do the occasional bit of research.
To give an advice to future Master students, I would like to refer to Dom Duarte, who once wrote a treatise on the skills needed for horsemanship and jousting. One of the things he mentions is that if one judges himself to be slightly better than they really are, they will succeed. In other words: get outside of your comfort zone and be creative.”