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Advanced Academic Skills Course


Admission requirements

A BSc in Biology or related subject, with an interest in continued work or study in science within academia or industry. The student should be in the final stage of his/her (last) MSc research project.


This course includes four weeks of MSc-training in essential transferable skills that are required for prospective PhD-students, but that will also come in handy in almost any academic or industry setting. We aim to help you develop a conceptual understanding of associative and interdisciplinary thinking. We also intend to broaden your perspective on the nature and speed of scientific developments within a discipline. Students will be educated at an advanced level in a range of skills, such as writing compelling scientific texts for a broad audience, presenting scientific papers, communicating facts and opinions, reviewing and criticizing work by peers, and writing a novel research proposal. The course is open for students of all four IBL-MSc-specialisations and welcomes MSc-students from other institutes. Students are encouraged to develop their own individual expertise in the direction of their choice by selecting primary literature for the various assignments and by scientific sparring with the course coordinators, MSc-specialisation specific supervisors and fellow students with similar and different interests.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course, students are able to:

  • Develop skills in creativity, interdisciplinary thinking and scientific project design

  • Formulate and write a viable and well-defined research proposal based on current NWO guidelines.

  • Present written and oral research ideas in a clear and well-argued manner,

  • Review and evaluate peer research proposals, ideas and oral presentations

  • Reflect on diverse career trajectories within and outside of academics

  • Reflect on key elements of academic life: scientific ethics, implicit bias, the role of social media, effective scientific presentations, the structure of academic institutes and funding bodies


The course spans four full weeks , during which students are required to be present at all group activities and otherwise work in groups or individually. Although there will be fixed contact hours typically in the morning throughout the course, there is reasonable flexibility and independence in how and when students allocate their effort and time.

To access the timetables for all courses and degree programs at Leiden University, please use the [MyTimetable] ( tool (login required). Any teaching activities that you have successfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Additionally, any timetables you manually add will be saved and shown the next time you log in.

MyTimetable offers the convenience of integrating your timetable with popular calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and other smartphone calendar apps. Any changes made to the timetable will be automatically synced with your calendar. If desired, you can enable email notifications for timetable changes in the "Settings" section (after logging in).

For more information, please watch the instructional video or visit the "help-page" within MyTimetable. Note that Joint Degree students from Leiden/Delft will need to merge their two separate timetables into one. A video tutorial is available to guide you through the merging process.

Mode of instruction

This course is based on lectures, discussions, student presentations, essay assignments, and self study, using primary literature. The time schedule involves a limited number of fixed contact hours with teachers. The course will require presence for about 4 hours per day. The rest of the time will be spent on self study and student interactions independent of teachers.

Do expect a heavy workload for a five-day work week and full day commitment at least during office hours.

Assessment method

Testing will be done by two short written assignments (once in a pair and once individually), two oral presentations and a longer written assignment (both individually, each student will present).

Minimum grade:
Courses require a minimum, unrounded 5.5 grade to complete.

If a course has 2 or more written partial exams, the minimum grade only applies to the weighted average of the exams.
For partial grades from components other than exams (e.g. practicals, seminars, writing assignments), the bottom grade does apply to the individual components.

Please refer to the Student Charter for an overview of regulations.

Reading list

Students will read a variable number of documents and scientific papers. Several will be provided by the teachers and are the same for all students. Others will be selected by the students themselves guided by their own interests.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Dr. D.E. Rozen
and Prof.dr. A. Briegel


Maximum number of participants: 20

Your registration is not complete if you have not registered for all course components available in MyStudymap (exam, lecture, etc.).

Hand-outs of lectures, informative documents, references to primary literature and links to important websites will be provided via Brightspace.