History as a culture of knowledge addresses the past from the perspective of a interpretation of the world supported by knowledge. Originally a narrative of the history of the discipline and advancements, the history of science today views itself as a history of the development of cultures of knowledge. The history of knowledge and science doesn't just inquire after content and people but also after institutions, facilitation processes, forms of application, and social contexts and effects of taught and scientific knowledge. Modern history of knowledge and science thematizes the social and cultural conditions under which science takes place.

Students in the Master's course of study "History – History as a Culture of Knowledge" learn about such different cultures of knowledge, meaning, they deal with very different forms of the production of knowledge and handling knowledge. Above all this includes: history of science as a specific approach to knowledge, systematic subject-oriented access to knowledge, epochal and cultural regional differences in handling knowledge, and dynamics of obtaining knowledge. Students will understand the context restriction – namely the historicity and cultural relativity – of knowledge, science, and innovation. With this methodological approach – that is not defined by a single object, epoch, or space – the course of study allows for an discussion spanning epochs of topics related to cultures of knowledge at different levels. It doesn't just allow such a discussion but rather promotes them even.

Programme Structure

The course of study consists of two types of modules, the special modules and the general modules. Students take one module from each group each semester. Each of these modules is made up of a lecture, a tutorial, and a seminar.

Special Modules:

  • Methods I: Tapping into Knowledge
  • Methods II: Reflecting on the History of Science
  • Methods III: Facilitating Knowledge

General Modules:

In contrast to the special modules, which are set up to span epochs, the general modules move along the four epochs Antiquity, Middle Ages, Early Modern Age, and the Modern Era.

The four professorships and other lecturer positions at the RWTH Institute of History each shape an aspect of the course of study. Ancient History is predestined for the analysis of the origin of scripturality; it explores the cultural georgraphic foundation of knowledge, whereby the use of modern techniques to expore ancient cultures plays an important role. History of the Middle Ages investigates the social, organizational, and habitual prerequistes of medieval cultures of knowledge; furthermore, the professorship possesses the best skills for teaching historical studies in the computer age and via the corresponding networks in the community. The Early Modern Age addresses the typical cross-linkages of knowledge for the epoch and the results forms and content of the description of knowledge and the gender dimension of cultures of knowledge resulting from scientific practices. In accordance with the technical development in modernity, the Modern Era takes mediality and technology as a condition and factor of historical studies into account and addresses the emergence and structure of modern technology cultures; the history of technology is constantly viewed as the history of society.

Entry Requirement

  • First university degree, required qualifications according to the examination regulations
  • Proficiency in German

Career Prospects


Two basic but primary career prospects for graduates result from the technical and generic skills and abilities the course of study teaches:

1. The methodological orientation of the course of study particularly enables graduates to scientifically work at a high niveau and, particularly through doctoral studies, to futher scientifically qualify themselves.

2. Graduates, who do not pursue doctoral studies, acquire the professionalism necessary for careers in historical studies outside of universities and research institutions in media, cultural and resarch organizations, public relations work, political parties and associations, documentation, museums, and adult education. The acquisition of founded expertise in a selected focus area of the course of study is fundamental for this work.


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