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KU Leuven University, Leuven, Belgium

KU Leuven University

The University

KU Leuven will celebrate its 600th anniversary in 2025, making it one of Europe’s oldest universities. Our institution has the double honour of being the oldest university in the Low Countries and the oldest extant Catholic university in the world. The University that is now known as KU Leuven was founded with the papal bull ‘Sapientie immarcessibilis’. This was issued by Pope Martin V on December 9, 1425 after the city of Leuven had requested permission for the foundation of the University with the support of John IV, Duke of Brabant, and the city’s clergy. Through the ages, the University’s academic fame has attracted numerous scholars and scientists who have made valuable contributions to European culture: Desiderius Erasmus, Justus Lipsius and the father of modern anatomy, Andreas Vesalius, are only a few examples.

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Academic Highlights

The University of Leuven can look back on a glorious past, but it also moves with the times. Today, international co-operation is regarded as essential for a modern university. Top-level research is judged according to international standards and implies interaction, co-operation, and exchange, both of researchers and results. As such, according to international rankings, KU Leuven is among the best 100 universities in the world. Our University is currently ranked 47th in the Times Higher Education World Ranking (2018), and 71st according to the QS World University Rankings (2018). In 2016 and 2017, Reuters named KU Leuven the most innovative university in Europe.

Study in the heart of Europe

As a student or researcher at KU Leuven you are in the heart of Europe. London, Paris and Amsterdam are only a stone’s throw away and various low-cost airlines take you to Europe’s biggest cities in no time.

KU Leuven is located in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium.

Leuven is bustling with student life. Unlike most university towns, it does not have a closed campus. The university buildings are spread all over town. Numerous old colleges and residence halls give Leuven the stylish face of a university town with a tradition. Its high number of international students makes it a place where numerous cultures meet and experiences are exchanged to everybody’s advantage and pleasure.

At KU Leuven, you are also part of a vibrant international community. There are 9,000 international students at our University, representing more than 150 different nationalities. There are also more than twenty international student associations at the University and multiple initiatives to ease the integration with the local community, such as the orientation days and the buddy project.


Specific Research Opportunities

KU Leuven is a research intensive university, a setting for both fundamental and applied research, with a strong inter- and multidisciplinary background and a clear international orientation. The University provides a stimulating home for all types of research, based on 9 Key Areas:

  • Human health
  • Medical technologies
  • Bio-sciences & environment
  • Matter, materials & energy
  • Nature unlimited
  • Manufacturing & ICT
  • Arts, religion & culture
  • Economy, law & society
  • Human behavior

At KU Leuven, knowledge is transferred through high quality interdisciplinary teaching. Study programs pay special attention to the integration of professional training into a broad ethical, cultural and social context of education. Rather than passing on mere factual knowledge, students are encouraged to develop their skills to identify, formulate and solve problems. Thus, the necessary conditions for a stimulating educational experience are created. Special attention is paid to the steady evaluation of the teaching process in order to enhance the students’ capacity to study independently, to provide intensive individual guidance and an adequate evaluation system, and to make sure that the teaching staff has excellent didactic qualities, making use of new teaching methods and technologies.

In addition, KU Leuven concentrates on the training of young researchers, mainly within the context of their doctoral studies. The university also offers postgraduate programs in a number of fields.

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Language and Culture

The Low Countries at the Crossroads of European History (6 ECTS, Spring term)

The Low Countries at the Crossroads of European History (6ECTS, Fall term)

The aim of this course is to offer students a critical overview of the history of the Benelux countries and to offer a comparative approach for the study of small territories in a wider European context. It also aims to challenge students to rethink such notions as cultural heritage, national pride and historical memory.

The emphasis in this course is on the emotions which people experience with respect to their country, its history and culture. The complex history of the Low Countries, with its different nations, its many links to the wider European world and beyond, and its traditions of economic success and cultural excellence, provides a good example of the range of issues on which human emotions focus and in this way shape history. From the civic pride in the medieval cities, over the rifts caused by the Dutch revolt, to the issue of regional identities in a unifying Europe, the course of Low Countries history is followed chronologically.
Special attention is given to the history prior to the twentieth century and the many ways in which this history has shaped contemporary society and has left numerous traces in the country and the minds of the people. For the recent history emphasis is on the constantly shifting meanings of people's historical memories under the influence of such issues as nationalism and regionalism, wartime experiences, migrations in the modern world etc. In this sense the course opens the debate on the specific position of small countries in larger political zones.