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Vaardigheidsmodule: Designing Your Life


Dit vak wordt alleen in het Engels aangeboden.

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Skills Module, open to students from all faculties. It is principally targeted at master’s students. If there are vacant places, bachelor’s students are welcome as well. There is a limited number of places reserved for students from the Honours College track Bèta & Life Sciences. Students will be selected based on their motivation. If the number of applicants greatly outnumbers the available places, places will be awarded by lottery.

Please note that the Skills Module, being an extracurricular course, cannot be used in the elective space of your regular programme.


Life design, Design Thinking, job market preparation, career development, creativity, networking


Psychology, Career Development, Design


  1. Generating Solutions
  2. Collaborating
  3. Oral communication
  4. Written communication
  5. Societal awareness
  6. Reflecting
  7. Independent learning
  8. Resilience

Number of students

Maximum of 40.


Have you known since childhood what you wanted to be when you would grow up? Congratulations, you are a lucky individual and this class is probably not for you.

For everyone else, this Skills Module will teach you how to apply the method of Design Thinking to design the most challenging and interesting project you will face: your life.

You will first learn how to identify energy patterns and build a compass to give you direction in your life design. Subsequently, you will brainstorm about multiple futures for yourself and prototype them through experiences and network conversations. Learning how to adopt the mindset of a designer is just as important, though, as designers know that perfection is unattainable, failure is a normal part of the process and that they can rely on their creativity to come up with new solutions.

This course uses literature from the domains of design, psychology and career development, and relies on smaller sub-groups within class - guided by a peer mentor - to stimulate discussions on a personal level. Through various (journaling) exercises and network conversations, you will expand your comfort zone and gain more clarity and confidence on how you can design your future.

Disclaimer: This is a very personal course. While many students experience personal growth, this course is not a substitute for professional mental health guidance. If you are struggling with mental health issues, please seek out professional help. You can also find additional support options on the Healthy University page of Leiden University.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the basics of Design Thinking

  • Identify what gives and drains energy, and formulate implications for your future based on these insights

  • Formulate where you currently stand in terms of work/study, love, health and play

  • Articulate which values are most vital for you in work as well as in life in general

  • Articulate your personal strengths, partially by using insights from outsiders

  • Envision three different life paths for the coming five years

  • Invite people for network conversations and conduct those in a mutually agreeable manner

Programme and timetable

The program will look as follows (all classes on Friday from 15.00-17.00):

1) 30 September: Designing Thinking intro & Life Design Dashboard
2) 7 October: Odyssees and LinkedIn
3) 14 October: Practising informational interviews & introduction to energy mapping
4) 28 October: Energy mapping and dysfunctional beliefs
5) 11 November: Perfectionism, creativity and decision-making
6) 25 November: Dealing with obstacles
7) 2 December: Prototype ladder & Next steps


Matthias de Vrieshof 2, room 004

Reading list

The book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans will be mandatory reading. Additional literature will be announced via Brightspace

Course load and teaching method

This course is worth 2 EC in extracurricular credit, which means the course load equals 56 hours:

  • Class sessions: 7 x 2 hours = 14 hours

  • Preparation exercises: 6 x 3 = 18 hours

  • Networking conversations (incl. preparation): 3 x 3 = 9 hours

  • Preparatory readings/videos: 5 x 2 = 10 hours

  • Writing final reflection portfolio: 5 hours

Assessment methods

As life design is not something to grade quantitatively, this course will have a pass/fail grade based on your effort. Participation, the preparatory assignments and final reflection portfolio all have to be sufficient to pass the course.

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

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.


Brightspace will be used in this course. Students will be enrolled to the Brightspace module by the organisation of the course.

Registration process

Registering for this course is possible from 8 August up to and including 9 September through the Honours Academy through this link. Students will be selected based on their motivation. If the number of applicants greatly outnumbers the available places, places will be awarded by lottery.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for this course. Your registration will be done centrally.


Dr. Bram Hoonhout (