Universiteit Leiden

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Study plan

Some study programmes help you monitor your own academic progress by assisting you in drawing up a study plan at the end of your first year.

The study plan is intended to help you remain focused and motivated for the rest of your programme. You will draw up a study plan for your second and third years at the end of your first and second year respectively.

Study plan for your bachelor's

All second year and more advanced Leiden students are required to formulate a study plan for their next year of study. The study plan was introduced in order to encourage students to keep up their study tempo after the first year.

Which study components when?

Students have to indicate in the study plan which programme components they plan to complete within a given period of time (generally the next academic year). There are a number of things that have to be taken into consideration when drawing up the plan, such as whether there are still courses from the previous year(s) that have to be completed, whether the student already wants to – and is able to - choose a specific direction within the study programme, which elective courses he or she is planning to follow, and what is the best way to plan all of the above in such a way that the student will be able to finish within a reasonable time.

Submitting the plan

The study plan has to be submitted to the study adviser of the department, preferably before the start of every new academic year (August or September). The study adviser will either approve the plan or recommend changes. 

If a student falls behind the study plan during the year, for instance due to personal circumstances, he or she should discuss this with the study adviser and the plan may be adjusted.

What does the study plan mean for students?

For students, the study plan represents:

  • An incentive to create a realistic and well thought-out study plan that takes into account relevant additional activities and/or personal circumstances;

  • An overview of the courses to follow including a time path;

  • A good way of guaranteeing study progress because, as well as the individual student, the study adviser/supervisor can also compare the actual study progress with the plan, so that delays can be identified on time.

Why make a study plan?

Leiden University firmly believes it is important for students to complete their studies successfully and on time. For students it is important to do the best they can and to get the most out of their study programme, and, of course, to graduate on time. The goal is for students to complete their bachelor’s programme in the three years allocated for the programme. 

The Leiden study system (including the BSA) helps first-year students to discover whether the subject they have chosen suits them, in other words, whether they are in the right programme. In the subsequent years, the study plan supports students in successfully progressing in their studies and completing the programme on time.

Academic Advisor

Students in the Research MA programme are granted great freedom in formulating a study program, which for some students works well, but for others can prove a challenge. The Student Advisor, Dr. Nicole van Os can provide practical advice and guidance about a program, but only academic professionals in a field can best provide the focused guidance and advice which a ResMA student needs. This is where academic advisors step in. These staff members do not have a formal role, meaning they are not officially appointed; rather, their function is more informal, but nonetheless vital. They will advise students, from the beginning of their studies, in making the right choices in preparing for their future. That future is not (only) the Research MA thesis, to be completed in two years, but looks (also) somewhat further ahead: where does a student want to be two or four years after graduation? What we aim for advisors —in this case, in contrast to the formally appointed thesis supervisors— to provide is academically focused guidance [rather than mere practical advice], with a view to where the student wants to be in the near-term future. As an academic advisor (a role including mentorship and other forms of academic guidance), this staff member has the expertise and network to assist students in making the right choices to move toward their goals.

Thesis supervisor

The academic advisor discussed above can –and very likely will-- become the formally appointed research and thesis supervisor of the student, but this individual does not have to do so by default. An academic advisor can, in the student’s best interest, advise the student to rather work on the thesis with another staff member as thesis advisor. It is important to keep in mind that appointment as formal thesis supervisor requires an official process, which takes place later in the student’s trajectory, in contrast to selection of an academic advisor, who begins to work with the student from the beginning of his or her trajectory.

Study planning

Incoming students are asked to look at the  LIAS > people  website. There they can find all potential academic advisors; such advisors must hold the PhD degree. Note that Drs does not mean PhD in the Dutch system, but is rather equivalent to an MA under the old Dutch system (therefore, staff members whose names are prefaced by Drs are not qualified as advisors for MA students). If in doubt about suitability of a certain staff member, ask the Study Advisor. Students may then contact their desired advisor directly and, showing the present text, ask if he/she is willing to become their  academic advisor. If the staff member accepts, an appointment will be set with the student, the academic advisor and the student advisor to clearly explain the parameters within which the choices should be made, and to discuss the study planning of the student.

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