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Big History

Would you like to know how everything around you has become the way it is now? The big history course provides you with an answer, by offering an integrated overview of all known history, from the Big Bang up until the development of societies today.


In 14 masterclasses a variety of experts, ranging from astrophysicists to social scientists, will take you on a journey that explains how the most elementary particles, stars, planets, life and human societies around the world have developed. Masterclasses will be supported by an online course that will allow you to study at your own pace and to deepen your understanding of big history. Your big history journey will end with a projection of what the future might bring and with a reflection on how your own field of expertise fits into the big picture.


Ir. E. (Esther) Quaedackers MSc

Learning objectives

At the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Construct an evidence-based overview of the history of the cosmos, earth, life and human societies;

  • Reflect on some of the major driving forces behind that history;
  • Examine how the histories of the cosmos, earth, life and human societies are intertwined and have influenced each other;
  • Examine how these histories have jointly affected important aspects of our current world;
  • And while doing so, use big history as a platform for creative, out-of-the-box, interdisciplinary thinking about societal challenges.


This course is open for UvA students and other interested parties, such as contract students or students from other institutions. You can register from 3 December until a week before the start of the course. 

High school students are also welcome, see here for more information. 

Registration UvA students (look for code 5512BIHI6Y)

Registration other interested parties

If you have any trouble while registering please contact: 

Teaching method

  • Interactive classes
  • Self-study


The schedule for this course is published on DataNose.


  • Mid term and final exam
  • Research assignment

Study material

  • Fred Spier (2015). Big History and the Future of Humanity (2nd edition). Wiley.
  • Online syllabus that includes a variety of videos and reading

Number of participants


Big History
Big History
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in February