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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.

6 credit course: stars, life and society

Would you like to know how everything around you has become the way it is today? How the histories of the cosmos, life, earth and human societies have influenced each other and jointly shaped important aspects of the world? And would you like to use that knowledge to develop a better understanding of the challenges our societies are currently facing? If the answer is yes, then Big History is the course for you! A variety of renowned experts, ranging from astrophysicists to social scientists, will take you on a journey from the Big Bang until today. Throughout the course, you are stimulated to reflect on the often-unexplored connections between the various astrophysical, geological, biological and cultural aspects that formed our world. In a final research assignment, you are encouraged to apply this knowledge to an important societal challenge and think about this in a creative and interdisciplinary way. While doing so, you will also reflect on what big history might mean for your future.



Mw. ir. E. Quadeackers

Teaching format



You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Course materials

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


See here.   

Number of participants



Mid-term and final exam 


UvA-students can register themselves from 3 December  (look for code 5512BIHI6Y in SIS) until a week before the start of the course.  

Other parties

This course is open for second and third year UvA Bachelor 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 through the registration form.

High school students​

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

If you have any trouble while registering please contact: Keuzeonderwijs-iis@uva.nl 

Big History
Type Contractonderwijs
Vorm Kortlopend, open uva-college
Studielast 6 EC,
Voertaal Engels
Toelatingseisen Open
Start Februari, september