nl en

The Academic Life


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes. For the latest updates regarding corona virus, please check this link.

Skills: Analysing, Collaborating, Oral communication, Written communication, Presenting, Societal awareness, Reflecting, Independent learning.
Disciplines: Social sciences, Science and Technology Studies.
Topics: Academic science, universities, funding agencies, publishers, evaluation, research governance, organization, grand societal challenges, relevance for society, citizen science, open science, recognizing and rewarding practices, academic careers, critical reflections on the science system.

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Master Honours Class aimed at talented Master’s students. Admission will be based on academic background, GPA and motivation.


Do you want to learn what being part of "the academic Life” entails? This course will help you develop a deeper insight and better understanding of what is going on within university life. In the Master Honors Class “The Academic Life”, we will focus on publicly funded science, and more in particular, on academic science, as a profession, as it is embedded in an institutional setting within a broader ‘eco-system’. This broader eco-system consists of the universities themselves, but also the publishing realm, the funding agencies, the evaluators of public science, as well as societal stakeholders. The course will help students develop a better appreciation for what is going on within university life, how research and education are linked, how this is rewarded, and what that means for academic careers. Next, we will also deal with the governance of academic science, both in a national and international context. This is necessary to understand recent trends and changes in the national and international organization of academic sciences. Such changes and trends are for example the discussion about grand societal challenges, whereby society and academia interact on topics of relevance for society, but also the development of open science practices in the creation of new knowledge, and the discussion about revised ways of recognizing and rewarding academic work, in the broader perspective. It is the course’s explicit goal to critically reflect on the strengths and limitations of proposed alternatives to problems identified in the publicly funded science system.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • acquire an understanding of academic science as a profession within a broader institutional ‘eco-system’ (e.g. universities, publishers, funders, evaluators); 

  • understand recent trends and changes in the national and international organization of academic science; 

  • gain an appreciation of debates and controversies around the current organization of scientific research, rewards, and careers; 

  • critically consider the strengths and limitations of proposed alternatives to problems identified in the science system;

  • acquire points of reference for the function of the science system at large and at the same time input to consider an academic career themselves.

Programme and Timetable

The sessions will take on the following Tuesdays from 17.00 - 19.30.

1. Seminar: Tuesday, 7 March (Pieter de la Court, Living Lab, 1B.01)
Introduction & Credibility Cycl.
The Credibility Cycle is a way to model the knowledge creation process. We follow this model during the course.

2. Seminar: Tuesday, 14 March (Heart Foundation, Prinses Catharina-Amaliastraat 10, The Hague)
Research Funding
They programme topics, include selection criteria, and define priorities and quality. How they are steering the system is discussed in this seminar.

3. Excursion to Publisher. Seminar: Tuesday, 21 March (Pieter de la Court buildling, Living Lab, room 1B.01)
Doing research, integrity & open science
These days, research integrity and open science are high on policy agenda's, we will focus on these topics while conducting research.

4. Seminar: Tuesday, 28 March (BRILL, Plantijnstraat 2, Leiden)
Open and Responsible Research & Innovation practices (e.g. equality, diversity and inclusion)
This seminar focuses on the European policy that supports open and responsible R&I practices, so that research includes society in the broadest way, and society can benefit from research.

5. Seminar: Tuesday, 4 April (Pieter de la Court buildling, Living Lab, room 1B.01)
Engagement and Citizen Science
Access to research and contribution in multiple ways, that is what engaging with citizens aims for. It is one pillar of the National Open Science Plan, and the Leiden Citizen Science Lab will participate in this seminar.

6. Seminar: Tuesday 11 April (Pieter de la Court buildling, Living Lab, room 1B.01)
Communication and Publishing Cultures
In this seminar we discuss variety in scholarly communication cultures, the accompanying differences in types of output, also in relation to the Panel Discussion.

7. Seminar: Tuesday, 18 April (PLNT, The Brainstorm, Langegracht 70, Leiden)
Organisation and Career Pathways
What does an academic career path look like? The academic job structure resembles a pyramid. In this seminar students will have speed dates with PhD candidates from Leiden University to learn more about their experiences as being a doctoral candidate.

8. Panel discussion: Tuesday, 9 May (Pieter de la Court building, room 1A.01)
Recognition and Reward
Another hot science policy topic is reward & recognition, how does this function now, and what revisions are necessary?

9. Seminar: Tuesday, 23 May (Pieter de la Court building, room 1A.01)
Evaluation and Responsible Assessment Frameworks
In this seminar we will discuss various evaluation types, at various levels of application in the science system.

10: Final Debate: Tuesday, 30 May (Pieter de la Court building, Living Lab, room 1B.01)

Deadline Final Essay: 14 June 2023


Various locations in Leiden and The Hague, such as Pieter De La Court building, room 1A.01, 1B.01, PLNT, BRILL, Heart Foundation

Course load

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours:

  • Seminars: 9 seminars of 2.5 hours (participation is mandatory)

  • Excursion: 1 excursion of 2.5 hours (participation is mandatory)

  • Reading and practical work (e.g. reflections, pitch, panel discussion, presentation): 80 hours

  • Final essay: 35 hours


  • 30% Participation assessed continually through participation in seminars, excursion and final debate;

  • 30% Three reflection papers to a session’s reading(s), preferably in relation to one's own ambitions, maybe experiences, or a personal perspective, of 1000 words;

  • 20% Pitch (in seminar) and presentation (in final debate);

  • 20% A final essay of 3000 words, of a reflective nature, in which for example any of the topics in the course could be taken as an entry point to discuss potential barriers or opportunities in the own career perspective.

Students could only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

Reading list

A selection of articles, book chapters, policy documents and blogs. 

All literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Brightspace and uSis

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Master Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.


Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 30 January up to and including Sunday 12 February 2023 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Master Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.


Inge van der Weijden, PhD:
Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS)