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MA Theory and History of Psychology

University of Groningen
Program overview
1 year
Full time
Master's degree
Virtual open day
Start dates
01 September 2021

01 February 2022

Program description

MA Theory and History of Psychology

Theory and History of Psychology (formerly “Reflecting on Psychology”) studies psychology as a science, a discipline, and a profession. It's the only programme of its kind in Europe

Our aim is to understand why psychology became the way it is, how it has been understood, how it negotiates its boundaries with other allied sciences, and how it could be improved. We focus on the social, methodological, philosophical, and conceptual issues that underlie contemporary psychology. For this reason, our programme will appeal particularly to students who wonder why things are the way they are, dare to question established truths, and dream about how they could be different.

This is a programme for those who want to explore beyond statistical analyses of quantitative data and to learn about the various historical, cultural, and qualitative alternatives to the standard set of approaches in contemporary scientific psychology. Gaining access to a broader range of concepts, literature, and research methods will help you to identify and ask the most exciting and urgent questions, and discover new ways to consider their answers by looking at history, philosophy, public understanding, and sociology of science.

Together with faculty and fellow students, you will set to work by reading deeply in both primary and secondary sources, examining popularizations, writing your own texts, presenting your own ideas, reconsidering your reasoning, and debating the consequences. This active learning process will help you to think flexibly and well in various different contexts, conduct independent research unconstrained by current fashion, and communicate in an understandable and attractive way about ideas that have not yet been popularized elsewhere.

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Admission requirements

Specific requirements

Language test:

Bachelor students meet language requirements. For English-taught tracks, students with an HBO Toegepaste Psychologie need to provide evidence of satisfactory results for one of the standard tests.

Previous education:

A BSc in Psychology. Only students with an HBO (Dutch University of Applied Sciences) Applied Psychology degree can be admitted to the (pre-)master's programme. Applications of students from other HBO programmes will not be considered.

For more details, please visit university's website.

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Program content

This one year programme consists of 30 EC courses, and a 30 EC master thesis project – which can include an internship of maximum 15 EC.

Foundation courses are Conceptual Issues in Psychology, which is a course in classic and theoretical readings we find essential for this master, and Brain, Consciousness and Society, which deals with findings from psychological, psychiatric and neurological research and their reception.

Elective courses are Reflections of Psychology: Critical Issues, for which you will prepare a lecture on a topic that deals with reflections on psychology or adjacent fields; and Boundaries of Psychology, which explores the boundaries of psychology as a scientific discipline.

For most courses, you have to make assignments or write essays. Since writing is such an important aspect of this programme, it also offers a course in Writing Skills. This course runs through the first three blocks and will help you in your writing process. Furthermore, this program offers a course in Qualitative Research Methods, in which various ways of doing qualitative research will be explored. All courses are given in the first three blocks, the last block is free of courses to give you the opportunity to finish your master thesis.


  • Conceptual Issues in Psychology (5 EC)
  • Qualitative Research Methods (5 EC)
  • Writing Skills
  • Master Thesis
  • Brain, Consciousness and Society (5 EC)
  • Reflecting on Psychology: Critical Issues (5 EC)
  • Boundaries of Psychology (5 EC)

Continuing studies


Theory and History of Psychology is the master programme of the expertise group Theory and History of Psychology. We study the relations between Psychology (and related disciplines), the subjects they study, and the society and culture that they are part of. We draw our inspiration from History and Philosophy of Science and from Science and Technology Studies.

Career opportunities

Job prospects

Students who have finished the Theory and History in Psychology master will go on to become:

Job examples:

  • Historians of science

    for example in archives, as non-fiction authors, or academics

  • Government advisors

    advisors of science policy for governmental organizations

  • Academics

    researchers or teachers in departments of social sciences, philosophy or medicine

  • Science communicators

    freelance, or for editorial offices of a magazine, university or publisher

  • Qualitative researchers

    for research agencies, or governmental organizations

  • Teachers

    of psychology or related fields in schools for higher professional education, or secondary schools

Contact school

Want to know more about this program, MA Theory and History of Psychology? Fill out the following form and include any questions you have. This information will be sent directly to the school, and a representative will respond to your enquiry.


About this institute

University of Groningen

The University of Groningen is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands, founded in 1614 and it ranks amongst the top 100 universities in the world. We are a research intensive institution offering a wide range of highly regarded bachelor,...

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Why study at University of Groningen

We're a Top 100 University

Study at one of the world’s leading universities. Learn from the best and take advantage of exciting research opportunities. Live in a vibrant city where over a quarter of the population are students. Whatever you’re seeking from your university experience, you’ll find it in Groningen. With over 45 world-class Bachelor’s programmes and 160 highly-ranked Master’s programmes, we have a field of study for you.

Our groundbreaking research

As a student, you will be actively involved in research at one of Europe’s top research institutions from the get-go. The University of Groningen carries out ground-breaking and socially-relevant research that builds bridges between disciplines and closes the gap between science and society.

400 years of reputation

The University of Groningen is the second oldest university in the Netherlands and has built a reputation for excellence. Many talented people have passed through the university during its rich 400-year history, including Nobel Prize winners like Ben Feringa (Chemistry, 2016) and Frits Zernike (Physics, 1953). Some have been pioneers in their respective fields, such as the first female University student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astronaut and the first president of the European Bank.

Vibrant Student Life

While its history can be traced back to 300 BC, today Groningen is a vibrant student city with the youngest population in the Netherlands – one in four people here is a student! That means there’s always something to do, with various art and music festivals, theatres, cinemas and performance venues catering to all tastes, whether you prefer to watch or want to join in. In Groningen, you’ll see students everywhere: studying in the pretty Noorderplantsoen park, working various part-time jobs and partying the night away.

Global Community

The University of Groningen attracts a large international community! Our Erasmus Student Network (ESN) conveniently facilitates all international students in Groningen and organizes over 150 activities a year. The University of Groningen has strong international connections which means that you can easily spend part of your degree studying abroad. The University also offers several unique international Master’s degree programmes in cooperation with other large European universities.

Contact info

University of Groningen

Broerstraat 5
9712 GL Groningen
The Netherlands

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Contact school

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