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International Studies 2.0: implementation of the new programme structure

International Studies at Leiden University started in 2012. Since then 5 years have passed in which we have grown into not only the largest programme at the Faculty of Humanities, with around 1600 students now, but also into a mature study programme. After these first five years, it was time to have a good look at the programme to see where and how it could be improved.

To this end the Programme Board  used the information drawn from the course evaluations, the National Student Survey (NSE: Nationale Studenten Enquête), but also from the findings of several committees like the external Midterm Review Committee, the Educational Committee, the Board of Examiners and an internal review committee. Moreover, the Programme Board discussed the programme extensively with members of both the student community and the lecturers.

All these reviews and discussions resulted in a number of changes to the structure of the programme.  While some final details are still being worked on, the Programme Board is proud to present the restructured programme below.

Implementation time path: what changes when?

The first changes in the programme will be implemented in the academic year 2017/18 and will only concern the first year courses. This means that current students, who will have to retake first year courses, might have to do so in a different semester, or under a different name, for example. The transitional arrangements can be found in the e-prospectus for 2017/18. Otherwise current students are not affected by the changes.

In 2018/19 the second year will receive an update and finally, in 2019/20 a number of changes will be introduced in the third year.

Main changes

The main change is the sequence of the courses in the various disciplinary learning streams. Instead of teaching courses in the same semester as is sometimes the case now, these courses will be given in subsequent semesters starting with an introductory course, followed by a course that focuses on the area and finally a course which uses a global perspective. This results, for example, in Area Politics and International Politics no longer being taught in the same semester, which makes it possible to build on knowledge from the previous course in the disciplinary learning stream.

Furthermore an extra elective course on research methods will be included in the second year, as it became clear from various evaluations that many of our students find methodological issues rather challenging. In the third year the course Practising International Studies will become a 10EC course. Finally, also in the third year, a course called Language in Practice will be introduced to replace the third year Elective. This course will make it possible for students to use sources in their chosen language in the thesis.

Other changes: tutorial assignments, courses changing name

The tutorial system was reviewed and it was decided that there was some room for improvement. The aim is to reduce the number of assignments in order to free up space to go more into detail and provide more feedback on assignments.

A number of courses will change name to reflect the actual content of the courses better.  This is important for students when communicating about the BA programme with, for example, potential employers. Therefore a course like Communicating Power will be named Sociolinguistics. Other name changes include Introduction to Area Studies becoming Introduction to International Studies and International Politics becoming International Relations.

More information

With this short summary information we hope to have given you some insight into the new structure of the programme from 2017/18. You can find the new programme for the first year already in the e-prospectus. As always, specific questions about your study plan can be directed at your coordinator of studies.

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