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History of Ideas

The subject is about how people perceive themselves and the world, our conceptions of history, present and future. History of ideas wants to analyze and understand the emergence of intellectual and scientific culture and its relation to society, in the light of general notions and thought traditions and by means of a historical method.

Subject description

Students of History of ideas examine how notions of life and death, mind and body, gender and ethnicity, change over time. Historians of ideas study ancient and present times, but also visions of the future, in order to discuss and determine the factors that affect historical development.

Through the study of History of ideas you achieve engaging perspectives on modern worldviews. Knowledge, context, and understanding are keywords that, together with open borders towards other disciplines, make History of ideas into an ideal complementary subject – for all students within the humanities and social sciences, but also for students of medicine, natural sciences and technology.

Career opportunities

Students of History of ideas are employed within a wide range of occupations. Many former students are engaged in modern media, working as journalists, as editors at publishing houses, or in libraries and archives. The extensive knowledge provided by History of ideas is helpful on many educational levels.

Further studies in History of ideas in combination with studies in other disciplines, entitle you to a Bachelor of Arts (180 ECTS). With a Bachelor of Arts you can apply to studies on the advanced level leading to a Master of Arts (1 year 240 ECTS, 2 years 300 ECTS). With a Master of Arts you can apply to PhD studies when they are available. PhD studies consist of a four years employment at the department where you are expected to take courses and write a doctoral thesis leading to a PhD exam.

Courses and programmes


In order to get a Bachelor of Arts exam in History of ideas or with a major in History of ideas you can either choose individual courses or follow the Bachelor program in historical studies.

In order to get at Master of Arts exam with a major in History of ideas you can either follow the Master’s programme in historical studies or choose the Master’s programme in critical studies.

More information about degrees at Stockholm University


Historians of ideas try to understand the intellectual history over time and in different contexts. Philosophy, science and politics remain important parts of these studies, but they also include the media development needed for the circulation and distribution of ideas. The research covers large fields of study, from the introduction of new technology to history of psychiatry and environmental humanities.