Universiteit Leiden

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Study programme

When deciding what to study you undoubtedly read a lot of information about your study programme. Leiden University employs various systems to provide information about programmes and courses and to facilitate communication between lecturers and students.

The Prospectus contains information about all the courses within your study programme. Here you can find all you need to know about your programme. Via Blackboard you can communicate with your lecturers and submit assignments.

Programme structure

The Archaeology programme includes an undergraduate (propaedeutic year and Bachelor) and a graduate (Master) phase.


In the first year of the programme (the propaedeutic year), introductory lectures are given about general aspects of archaeology and about the civilisations which can be chosen as a graduation topic. In addition, various important auxiliary subjects are offered. The first-year programme largely consists of (interactive) lectures, as well as essays and material and field practice.

The propaedeutic year is followed by three further study years, two in the BA phase (2nd and 3rd years) and the third in the MA phase (4th year).
In the 2nd year, you choose 2 profiles plus an in-depth or broad lecture. The wide range of courses on offer allows you to explore and familiarise yourself with the diversity of the subject.
The in-depth lectures consist of 3rd year subjects which alternate each year, so that you don’t attend the same lecture in the 3rd year. Broad lectures address subjects from the profile that you didn’t choose.

In the 3rd year, you have a choice of 5 specialisations. You may choose to do 2 of these specialisations, or 1 specialisation plus half a minor.

Another option is to attend courses outside Leiden University, but it is advisable to consult your study advisor first.

As time goes on, the number of interactive lectures gradually becomes less and you are required to work more independently. This means following practical lectures, giving presentations and writing essays.

The Bachelor’s programme is concluded with a more extensive piece of work, the thesis.

In principle, you follow the study programme as described in the study guide in the year in which you embark on your studies.

It is possible to switch to a (modified) programme from a later guide if the opportunity is available.
In the option part, study elements from the old programme which are no longer required may either be upgraded or equated with new elements through the transitional arrangement.

Level definition

Each programme element can be described in the following abstract categories. This overview is based on courses (with text books, assignments, papers, essays, etc.). Other forms of education, such as practical sessions, skills training, research projects, tutorials, etc. can be placed in the same scale. In particular, the level of examinations should be included as a criterion.

Undergraduate/ Bachelor

  • level 100: introductory course, continuing on from the level of the final pre-university exams at secondary school. Features: programme based on material in handbook or syllabus, didactically structured, with exercises and mock exams; supervised tutorials, accents in study material and examples in lectures
  • level 200: course with introductory character, no specific prior knowledge required, but experience in studying independently is desired.
    Features: textbooks or other educational material with a more or less introductory character; lectures, e.g. in the form of capita selecta, independent study of the material is assumed; no tutorials or mock exams
  • level 300: course for advanced students (required entry level 100 or 200). Features: textbooks, which do not necessarily need to have been written specially for educational purposes; independent study of the exam material; in exams, independent application of the learned material to new problems.
  • level 400: specialised course (required entry level 200 or 300). Features: besides a textbook, use of professional literature (academic articles); assessment (partly) by means of a small research project, a paper or a written essay.


  • level 500: academically oriented course (required entry level: the student has been accepted into a Master’s programme; preparatory course at level 300 or 400 has been completed). Features: study of advanced academic literature on the subject, intended for researchers; assessment aimed at problem solving by means of a paper and/or essay or own research, with independent critical interpretation of the material.
  • level 600: very specialised course (required entry level 400 or 500). Features: current academic articles; latest developments in academic thinking; independent contribution (thesis research) in which an unsolved problem is addressed, with a verbal presentation.

Study credits

According to the ECTS (=European Credit Transfer System), 1 year’s study consists of 60 ects (credits). 1 ects = 28 hours’ study. One ects represents:

  • 14 hours of lectures, or
  • 14 hours of tutorial sessions, or
  • 20 hours of practice, or
  • 140 pages of literature study, or
  • 3.5 days of field work, or
  • 1,200-2,000 words (e.g. essay)

Thesis and paper writing

For graduation, one copy of the BA project/MA thesis, accompanied by the appraisal form (completed in full and signed by the main tutor), should be handed in to the Administration Office.

After graduation, this copy will be forwarded to the faculty library for the archives.

Exams and re-sits

Most study elements are concluded with a project or written exam. These must all receive a satisfactory grade. 5.5 is unsatisfactory; 5.6 is satisfactory – for the sake of clarity, these are rounded down or up to 5 and 6 respectively. Consult the programme and examination regulations (OER) for the validity term of exams.

An exam is held twice in each academic year. If you fail an exam, you are expected to re-sit it at the next possible opportunity.

You are only entitled to re-sit an exam if you have taken the exam at the first opportunity or if you have demonstrated incapacity. The latter obviously requires consultation with the tutor and study advisor concerned.

During an exam, you must present valid identification and your student identification card if requested to do so.

For all assessments (written exams, essays, presentations, etc.), you must register using the online registration system uSis. Strict time limits apply to registrations; these can be found in the exam timetables.

You can register on uSis up to 3 days before an exam/deadline.

Types of assessment

Assessment preferably takes place immediately after the end of the lectures concerned, and for some subjects also during the lectures. The type of assessment also depends on the learning goals of the subject.

Written exams


  • open questions (including essay questions)

  • multiple choice questions

  • open-book exams

The type of exam is determined by the goal: multiple choice questions are good for testing knowledge and less suited to assessing insight and application. The advantage of multiple choice questions is the wide range of questions, which makes it possible to address all subjects. The faculty uses this type of exam for an encyclopaedic subject in the propaedeutic year. However, as the study progresses, the faculty feels that it is important to also test insight (BA2) and application. For that reason, only open exam questions are used in exams in later years.

With open questions, it is important that the range of subjects is as wide as possible. It is therefore important not to have too few questions and essay questions must be formulated in such a way that the lecture material is comprehensively tested. Any gaps could be filled by testing the remaining material with interim assignments.

Open book exams are ideal for subjects involving calculations like statistics, where the use of a method or skill is tested. This type of exam can also be taken via BlackBoard.


Essays assess the student at several levels: various general academic skills are tested, such as problem formulation, reporting, critical analysis of texts and application of the acquired knowledge. An essay lends itself well to combining knowledge of several disciplines, application and insight with clear reporting. If necessary, a literature search can be added to this, depending on the extent of the assignment.


Assignments vary widely within the faculty: they may be part of a module aimed at encouraging the student to actively follow the lectures, after which the subject is concluded with a written exam. This might involve exercises, or producing discussion points or an essay on a subject that has been addressed in class. Such assignments usually count towards the final assessment. This can vary according to the subject and is explained in the subject description.

The faculty also includes a practical component in the Bachelor programme: students must be able to carry out independent field work, as well as analyse material in the laboratory at basic level (Bachelor) or advanced level (Master). These practical exercises mainly take place in the Bachelor phase, by means of field work and material practicals. In principle, there is no field work in the Master programme, but there is plenty of scope for analysing material for a student’s own research project.


Presentations are an essential part of the programme’s curriculum. In the first year, students are taught the basic skills, after which presentations regularly appear on the timetable, including feedback on style and reasoning, so that the student learns to recognise his/her strengths and weaknesses. A standard form is available for this.


An active attitude during discussions and practical skills in interactive lectures and practical sessions is usually part of an assessment of these components. This may be assessed separately, but may also be used to round a grade up or down. In all cases, this assessment takes place alongside other types of assessment, such as essays, a presentation or report, so that it is always possible to compensate.

Introduction to the programme

The master's programme in Archaeology is directly linked to ongoing research. The Faculty staff is involved in projects all over the world, with a strong emphasis on field archaeology. There is an additional focus on ecology and geology, which is combined with iconological and historical studies, as well as with ethnoarchaeological, anthropological and experimental approaches. In-depth knowledge of a specific cultural area is combined with ongoing debates in general theory, the development of new methods and the advancement of the use of information technology in the discipline. 

There are three parts to the programme:

  • an introductory part
  • the specialisation
  • the electives

All students follow introductory courses in advanced methods and theory, world heritage and archaeometry. In the specialisation part, students follow in-depth courses within the subject of their choice, and write their master’s thesis. Almost one-third of the programme consists of elective courses in another field of study or specialisation. 

The courses are all taught in English, and are designed for an international group of talented and motivated students holding a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) in Archaeology or another relevant discipline. 

Please visit the e-Prospectus for more information.

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