Wouter Berkhof is a student
"There is currently so much happening in socioeconomics and politics. Will China be the most important economy in the world 20 years from now? Will the United States undergo a permanent change under Trump? Will Europe remain as prosperous as it is today or will there be competition? These kinds of questions are the order of the day and they can only be answered properly if you know how the current situation came about. The Master's programme in History of Politics and Society lets you consider the present and the future, based on the past. The socioeconomic approach really contributes if you want to understand history and current issues. Also important: the Master's programme is put together very well. There is a lot of room for discussion, you get individual feedback and the lecturers are always there for you.
What also appeals to me in this Master's programme is that you have all the space you need within the various subjects to develop an international outlook. If you wish, you can even do your entire Master's programme in English. By doing comparative historical research – in which you compare two countries, for instance – you train yourself to take an international perspective. You always ask yourself while doing so: who wrote this source, when and in what context? The socioeconomic research group of the Faculty is a global leader in the field of expertise; many prominent historians have ties to Utrecht University. All in all, by choosing this Master's programme, a career in international relations is surely a possibility.
The Master's programme prepares you well for the job market. We are currently writing a policy plan for a subject, an important employment skill. And earlier this year, we were trained in job-market sessions in subjects such as networking and job applications. The internship in the second half of the Master's programme is of course the best preparation for practice you can have. You can arrange your own internship or apply for one of the internships set up by the degree programme through lecturers' connections. I will be doing my internship at Urban Labs, a research project of the City of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam. My role is to investigate how we can learn from urban experiments from the past. What I want to do after that? Maybe first a teacher-training programme. And later, I can imagine myself going into politics!"
Jennifer Beckwith is Policy Advisor at the CBI
“I chose this Master’s programme because I wanted to continue with interdisciplinary study. I had done History and Politics at undergraduate level and wanted to further explore the sociological, historical, political and economic forces that shape our contemporary world. I really liked the programme’s focus on ‘institutions’ because I was interested in working in government or the public sector after studying. The careers of former students also appealed to me, as did the strength of Utrecht University in international league tables.
I like the choice offered by this programme to study either a theoretical or practical track. There is even greater flexibility within this, for example I wrote a theoretical length thesis within the practical track as I worked on a research placement at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. This enabled me to choose exactly the topic I wanted to research (labour coercion), and meet leading researchers and academics in the field. Being able to combine the theoretical and practical track gave me a breadth of study and the real-world experience of a research organisation which I doubt would have been possible at other Universities, certainly not in the UK.
In April I became a Policy Advisor at the CBI, the UK’s largest business membership organisation. It works closely with government to shape everything from education to energy policy. I work in the employment team and lead on inclusion policy, forming recommendations to improve diversity in employment and workplace progression. This involves responding to government reviews by convening businesses to gain practical insight on how policy changes will affect their organisations. It also involves showcasing businesses with good employment practices and sharing these with government and other businesses. Sometimes it involves interpreting legislation after government passes new employment regulation, and helping organisations to apply it in their business and understand the impact.”
Julia Hulleman is a student
"The main reason I chose the Master’s programme History of Politics and Society was because of my interest in political and societal issues. By combining the two and looking at them from a historical perspective, you develop a wide range of tools that can be applied in all kinds of situations. This variety in skills is important to me, since I have a lot of interests and don’t exactly know yet what I would like to do later in life.
Another aspect of this programme in which this broad scope can be found is in the freedom you get in designing your own study programme. You choose a lot of the courses you take yourself, and since you have to write papers for (almost) all of them, there is a lot of freedom in picking your topics. It is interesting to see the diversity in topics my classmates chose. You really get the chance to delve into topics you find interesting and might not know a lot about.
Aside from the variety in skills and topics you encounter, the internship in the second semester was one of the main reasons I chose for History of Politics and Society. An internship is a great way to prepare yourself for a future career, and is in my opinion too often overlooked in other Master’s programmes. My internship was at BKB, a campaign bureau in Amsterdam that develops strategic plans for campaigns for societal issues, often commissioned by the Dutch government. An internship like this is a great way to start a professional network and to gain valuable work experience."
Willemijn Luchtenbelt is Area Director Maarssen and Environment Manager at Municipality Stichtse Vecht
After my Bachelor's degree in History, I deliberately chose the Master's programme in History of Politics and Society in Utrecht. During my Bachelor's I was already interested in political issues in history with a contemporary relevance. Themes of which I wanted to better understand the historical context were participation, citizenship, social movements and democracy.
The Master's programme in History of Politics and Society offered me the opportunity to go deeper into these subjects. The combination of theory and practice by doing an internship also appealed to me. During my Master's, I completed two internships. The first internship was at the engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV. I did research on the changes that the Department of Rivers, Deltas and Coasts went through in the last 50 years. For this purpose I conducted interviews with (former) employees of Royal Haskoning, who have been active in the international water sector for many years. This resulted in a small publication. The research gave me a good insight into the working methods and changes in the water sector.
As a follow-up, I did an internship at the Dutch embassy in Hanoi. My assignment there was to analyse the direct and indirect effects of the Mekong Delta Plan.
During both internships - plus a Master's thesis on partnerships in the water sector - I learned a lot about the Dutch water sector. In addition, both internships provided me with more insight into spatial planning. Via the Dutch Career Fair, I ended up at the municipality of Stichtse Vecht. I became Area Director. My interests and qualities came together well in this job. As an Area Director I am mainly concerned with citizen and government participation. Themes that are also dealt with theoretically in the Master. Also the work in the Mekong Delta has everything to do with the involvement of citizens in the success of the implementation of the Mekong Delta Plan. After all, a government project, even an international one, has no chance of success if there is no support from the community.
Unlike some other colleagues at the municipality, as a historian I have learned to take in a lot of information, ranging from policy documents to personal interests. Through my studies and internships I have learned to distil the main points and in this way to work in a solution-oriented way.
Robert Keenan is a Phd Candidate at Wageningen University
"After my Bachelor’s in History I worked full-time in customer service for a number of years but always knew that I wanted to continue to pursue my studies. The Master’s programme in History of Politics and Society at Utrecht University represented a chance for me to update my knowledge of contemporary debates in a broad range of historical topics as well as equipping me with the analytical abilities to understand the complex world around me. The interdisciplinary focus of the courses offered through the programme promised to allow me ample room to explore the subjects that I was most interested in, expanding beyond history into economics, political science and sociology.
Although I was nervous to return to academia as an international student, I found myself supported throughout the programme by a number of endlessly knowledgeable and passionate faculty members who challenged me to do better and helped me to develop my own research. As someone who cannot speak Dutch, I was anxious about the internship component of the programme but again found myself supported by an academic staff that rewarded curiosity and hard work. Through these faculty members, I took part in an internship at the International Institute of Social History where I had first hand experience of the highest levels of academic research, writing and publishing. This internship helped me to realise that I wanted to continue with a career in research beyond the Master’s programme.
During the programme itself, course themes such as economic growth and inequality over a long-run perspective opened my eyes to an unfamiliar mode of research and prompted me to dig deeper into the interconnected economic development of global regions. Through the taught programme, my internship and the experience of writing my thesis on the economic development of Hong Kong and Macau since the nineteenth century I developed new skills in the study and writing of economic history. In the year subsequent to my completion of the Master’s programme in History of Politics and Society at Utrecht University, I began a PhD candidacy at Wageningen University studying historical migration patterns and economic development in Southeast Asia. It is no exaggeration to suggest that my ability to pursue a PhD candidacy was the direct result of the wonderful people I met during my studies at Utrecht University, as well as the skills they imparted upon me and the world which I discovered through them."