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Military History

Armies are traditionally meant to serve the interests of the state with weapons and military violence, either threatened or actually executed.

Militaire geschiedenis
Dutch soldiers in the inundation area of the Hollandse Waterlinie during the mobilisation prior to W.W.II, November 1939.

In society at large however, the acts of killing and committing violence are strictly forbidden. It is this contradiction that makes Military History so fascinating. It explores the history of warfare and the provisions needed by armies for undertaking military operations, ranging from military culture, political and cultural notions about war and violence, to the recruitment of personnel, the available budget, technological developments, and the mental and physical preparation for military operations.
The UvA is the only Dutch university offering a Master’s in Military History. Civilian students and military personnel participate in the programme, which ensures the synthesis of theoretical knowledge and practical experience.


In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Institute for Military History (The Hague) and the Faculty of Military Sciences (FMW) of the Netherlands Defence Academy (Breda and Den Helder) form the focal points for Military History research. The UvA has two professors of Military History in its employ. These are Professors Herman Amersfoort and Wim Klinkert, both of whom are also aligned with the FMW.
Research at the UvA is especially geared towards Dutch military history, stretching from early modern and modern times until the present (within and outside of Europe). The emphasis is hereby on the military history of the Netherlands during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with special reference to the period 1900 – 1940.


The MA Military History is in Dutch and consists of:

  • a core course on the history of warfare and military operations
  • a short orientation on military historiography and a written assignment, both of which are meant as preparation for thesis research
  • a seminar about U.S. military history or the history of international - more specifically transatlantic – relations.
  • thesis and electives

A select group of students can take a part of a course at the Defence Staff College (The Hague).