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Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

Leiden University

The University

Leiden University (1575) was the first university in the Netherlands where freedom of belief and religion was practised, as reflected by the university’s motto, Praesidium Libertatis, Bastion of Liberty. It was in this atmosphere of freedom of speech that philosophers like Spinoza and Descartes were able to develop their ideas. Several great scholars and scientists have brought fame to Leiden University over the years. Recently, the Spinoza Award, the most prestigious Dutch academic award, has been presented to professors from Leiden 15 out of 59 times.

The three guiding principles of the University are:

  • an international orientation
  • the research-intensive character of the University
  • maintaining the quality of education and research

The University intends to make major contributions to society in the areas of prosperity, well-being and culture. Talent is indispensable to the realization of that ambition. To this end, the University is committed to both recruiting and developing talent, involving secondary school pupils, university students, and young researchers and academics.

Location: Leiden, the Netherlands

Life in Leiden is greatly influenced by the relatively large number of students, as most of them both live and study in the historic town of Leiden. It is very easy to run into someone you know when you go shopping or when you go out at night. Since Leiden is a small town, all the university buildings are within walking or cycling distance. Students tend to feel at home quickly, because of the safe environment and the individual approach.

Leiden is located just twelve kilometers east from the North Sea coast, in between the cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. The Hague can be reached by train in 12 minutes, Schiphol Airport in 20 and Amsterdam in 30 minutes.

Brianna Valois (alumna, Spring 2014 at Leiden University) has summarised her 7 months experience in this movie:

Academic Highlights

Leiden University offers outstanding international students an intellectually exciting learning environment with high academic standards. The focus is on debate and critical thinking, rather than on knowledge transfer, whereby the students' ability to think independently is greatly stimulated.

As a research University, Leiden University focuses on fundamental research and research-based education. Fundamental research is typically curiosity-driven, and researchers develop their curiosity through their observations. It is usually unpredictable as to its course and outcome and often leads to new insights into the essence of nature, the human mind, and the complex interactions between their elements. This gives rise to innovations, to new developments and solutions to emerging problems.

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Specific Research Opportunities

Theoretical physicist Prof. Carlo Beenakker has been awarded the Akzo Nobel Science Award (October 2006) for his pioneering work in the field of nanoscience, the world where atoms and molecules can no longer be distinguished. His research focuses on the fundamental physical problems which occur when an object of macroscopic proportions is miniaturised to nanometer scale.

Leiden academics and students who need to consult books from the eighteenth century on such diverse subjects as the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, political satires, medical works, or the first European grammar of Chinese, now have exclusive access through Leiden University Library to a large digital corpus: Eighteenth Century Collections Online or ECCO. ECCO is a digital collection comprising over 150,000 books published in the Britain between 1701 and 1800.

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Dutch Language and Culture

The objective of this course is to learn the language up to an elementary level, sufficient to get by in everyday situations, like meeting people, ordering drinks, shopping, and travelling on public transport. The culture course consists of ten one-hour lectures about several aspects of Dutch culture, e.g. the polder landscape, the organization (‘pillarisation’) of Dutch society, and the growth of a multicultural society, as well as the history of Leiden and typical Dutch celebrations.

Practical Information

Information about housing, visa & residence permit, insurance and other facilities can be found on the practical information page.