Universiteit Leiden

nl en

The academic life dissected

Every student learns about science, but those of the Master Honours Class ‘The Academic Life’ went an extra mile. They learned all the ins-and-outs of academia and rounded off this successful lecture series with a final session on evaluating scientific research.

Speed dating

In the Master Honours Class ‘The Academic Life’, a group of dedicated students immersed themselves in the academic world. They learned, for instance, how scientific research is funded, what the publication process of a research project looks like, academia’s place in society - they even got to speed-date with PhD students.

‘This course is based on science studies,’ explains Dr Thed van Leeuwen. ‘Science studies is rarely a stand-alone discipline in higher education. Therefore, as Centre for Science and Technology Studies, we offer courses based on science studies. We think there are students who, like us, are fascinated by how science functions as a system.’

Academic life cycle

In ten weekly lectures, students were taught on this subject. Each lesson consisted of theory, explained by one of three lecturers: Dr. Thed van Leeuwen, Dr. Ingeborg Meijer and Dr. Inge van der Weijden. In addition, each lesson contained an interactive component, and two students gave a pitch on that week’s topic.

One of the honours students is Innoka. She is doing a masters on museums and collections at the Faculty of Humanities. ‘I didn’t know a lot about academia from my own programme and I was curious to learn more. I wanted to know how the academic life cycle works. I think the great thing about this Honours Class is that you get a chance to learn  about topics that you wouldn’t necessarily touch upon in your own studies.’


That versatility is exactly what the lecturers were keen to impart in this course, Dr. Van Leeuwen explains. ‘We hope that the students learned from us what the better and lesser sides of academic life are - but also, for instance, what transitions are happening. In short, that they’ve gained a deeper understanding of how academia works. Moreover, we hope that interactions with us, the guest lecturers and each other has given students new insights that they will carry with them in the rest of their careers.’

'The course made me look at the path of a PhD candidate in a new way'

Innoka can endorse the latter. ‘I was particularly surprised to learn that PhD candidates could have a more authentic and diverse pathway in and outside of academia – unlike the linear progress of which we are all conditioned to believe is the only academic road to take. It made me look at the path of a PhD candidate in a new way.’

The final lecture holds a surprise, too. One of the students turns out to have organised a spontaneous drink to conclude the lecture series. The students and lecturers take off for the café in good spirits. Judging by their mood, these students are likely to write a positive evaluation of this course.

Text: Iris Kole
Photos: Eric van den Bandt

This website uses cookies.