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Education

FAQ BSc Political Science: International Relations and Organisations

1 June 2017

Frequently asked questions

Last update: 15 June 2020

Schedules & start of classes

Study Programme & curriculum

Exams & grading

Student support

Life after IRO

Practical information

Other sources

Schedules & start of classes

Will my classes for IRO be offered on campus in 2020-2021?
The vast majority of teaching and assessment in the first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year will remain online. If you are not in the area, you can follow all your courses and examinations online. If you are in area, we hope to be able to provide you with some opportunities to come to campus for certain sessions (such as working groups). As this depends on government and university guidelines, we will provide further details as we come closer to the beginning of the academic year. Please keep in mind that the situation can change for semester two. Also, we have to set up the class schedules based on the timezone of the Netherlands. In that context, physical presence in the area of the University, although not required during the first semester, might be useful.
Updates coronavirus Leiden University

What are the dates of the academic year for IRO?
The academic year has two semesters, divided by two blocks each. You can find all relevant dates in the academic calendar. Note that during the class-free periods (e.g. December-January), examinations and/or retakes of exams can be scheduled.
Academic calendar

Where do on-campus classes take place?
The IRO programme is based in The Hague; all lectures, workgroups, etcetera, are offered on Campus The Hague. This consists of several buildings, which are all situated on a five-minute walking distance from the city’s central railway station.
Leiden University’s facilities in The Hague

Where do I find my schedules?
Once you study with us, you can access your schedules via uSis. They can also be found online.
Schedules IRO

Is it possible to start the programme in January/February?
The IRO programme has one starting date, in September each year.

Can I do the programme on a part-time basis?
The IRO programme is only offered on a full-time basis.

Study Programme & curriculum

Are transfer credits accepted into the programme?
The first and second year of the IRO curriculum is fixed. This means that all students have to cover the same course content. Only in very exceptional cases you can submit a request for credit transfer or course exemption to the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Political Science. Note that this may take some time. You can only file a request after you have been unconditionally accepted for the programme.

The programme has a numerus fixus. What does this mean?
The Political Science bachelor’s programmes admit a limited number of students. If there are more applications than this ‘numerus fixus’, a selection and placement procedure will determine which applicants will be offered a place in the programme.
FAQ numerus fixus, selection and placement

What are the courses offered in the first year?
During the first year, you acquaint yourself with the basics of the political science discipline and international politics (Introduction to International Relations, International Organisations, Actors in World Politics, Introduction to Comparative Politics) as well as statistics (Statistics I and II) and related subjects such as economics (Economics for Political Scientists) and history (Global History). An important part of the programme is reserved for skills courses, in which you practice text analysis, debating, and academic writing. Detailed information can be found in the Prospectus.

Do I have to specialise early?
During the first and second year of your study, you will complete the required courses in the programme. During your third year, you will get the chance to specialise by choosing electives, a minor, an internship or a study abroad period.

How much time will I spend on studying?
The IRO curriculum is a full-time study programme. Generally, students spend around 40 hours per week on their study. Classes and tutorials/work groups cover 16 hours per week and students are expected to prepare for each class session.

What are the teaching formats for each course?
Most courses consist of plenary lectures in a large (500 + students) classroom; some courses include more interactive work group sessions in smaller groups of around 24-40 students.

Can I study abroad during the programme?
Study abroad is not a mandatory element in the IRO programme, but the university has (limited) exchange opportunities with other universities abroad (inside and outside of Europe). Keep in mind that you are only eligible for a study abroad period with completion of your first year courses (60 EC) and a grade point average of a 7.0.
More about exchange programmes
Database with partner universities 

Will I need to learn Dutch to study at Leiden University?
You do not need to learn Dutch; the language of instruction and communication in your programme is English. The university does offer a free short online course Dutch & More for international students and affordable Dutch language courses for international students via the Academic Language Centre.
The IRO programme does not include any language courses, but we suggest you to check out language courses and electives.
Language courses on offer
Prospectus: language electives

What is the degree I will receive upon completion?
Upon completion of the IRO programme, you will receive a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Political Science (BSc) from Leiden University.

Is a Bachelor’s degree from Leiden University recognised outside The Netherlands?
Bachelor’s degrees from Leiden University are internationally accredited. Leiden University has an excellent reputation in the international academic world.
Leiden University website: rankings

Exams & grading

How do exams work? Are they mc or open questions?
Evaluation and examination will be done on the basis of written assignments (open questions) as well as multiple choice questions. During your first year, all exams will be multiple choice (this might be subject to change due to COVID-19). During the second year, your exams will consist of a combination of multiple choice and open questions.

How are course grades calculated?
At Leiden University, grading is based on the 10 point grading system. Final course grades 10.0 to 6.0 are passing grades, grades of 5 or lower will require a resit exam.
Study in Holland: the Dutch grading system

Can I retake an exam to improve my average grade?
Most courses have two exam opportunities. It is not possible to retake an exam you have passed. If you receive less than a 5.5 for both tries, you will have retake the course in the next academic year. This assuming that you will receive a positive BSA at the end of the first year.

What does the binding study advice mean?
The binding study advice (BSA) entails, in short, that you must obtain sufficient study credits (i.e. pass exams) during the first year of the bachelor’s programme in order to continue studying. It is important that you familiarise yourself with this requirement and plan and work accordingly.
Student information site: binding study advice

Student support

To what extent are students supported during their study?
The university offers all kinds of support to new and current students—from study advisers to psychologists, international student advisers, student counsellors, mentors and buddies.
Student information site: study guidance and advisers

Where can I find more information about accommodations to (learning) disabilities?
If you have a learning disability or if any other personal circumstances require extra attention or time, we strongly advise you to contact your study adviser before you start your studies. Leiden University offers several facilities for students with learning disabilities.
Student information site: exceptional circumstances

Life after IRO

Does Leiden University offer Master’s programmes?
Leiden University offers a wide range of Master’s programmes, amongst which several interesting master specialisations in Political Science:
Website Institute of Political Science: education

Can I be accepted in to a graduate programme outside of The Netherlands with this degree?
In principle, your BSc degree will offer the required level of education for further graduate education. Note that there may be additional entry requirements for the Master’s programme of your choice. We advise students to inform themselves in time about the exact entry requirements of their preferred next academic (graduate) degree.

What are my career opportunities as a political scientist/international relations and organisations graduate?
IRO provides the ideal basis for continued academic education and a professional career. Typically, students with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in international relations/political science find jobs in the European Union, the United Nations, local government, a multinational or non-governmental organisation, international organisations, or national organisations. They work in policy-making, strategic analysis, research and education, management, consultancy, diplomacy, administration and politics, for example.
Leiden University offers students plenty possibilities to prepare themselves for the labour market.
Leiden University’s Career Service
Career Zone

Practical information

I have two passports, can I pay the home fee?
If you have a valid Dutch or European passport, you will have to indicate this during your application and you will be considered a Dutch or European citizen when the tuition fees are determined.

How do I find housing?
The housing office can assist international (non-Dutch and non-European) students with housing, as long as they have completed their application in Studielink and have submitted their housing application before the deadline (1 June). Please be aware that there is limited availability of student accommodation in Leiden and The Hague. The Housing Office cannot guarantee that it will be able to offer all international students a room. It therefore advises international students to also look for accommodation themselves.
Finding housing yourself

What other sources can I consult?
Leiden University Student FAQ

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