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Discretionary Space International Studies


Admissions requirements

The first year of study (60 EC) must have been completed.
Approval by the board of examiners in case of: Study Abroad, Internship, Discretionary Space Package.


In the third year all students have a Discretionary Space of 30 EC to spend on courses outside of the programme. There are different options to choose from: take a minor, an internship, or study abroad.

For an overview of the possibilities and procedures, see the website.
Direct link to the Discretionary Space Approval form.


A minor is a cohesive package of courses worth 30 credits. Leiden University offers some 55 different minors, including 30 in English. Most of these are accessible to all students of Leiden University; a few minors have additional admission criteria. All university faculties offer a range of minors. The minors offered by the Faculty of Humanities are often interdisciplinary in nature. All minor options can be found in the minor section of the e-prospectus.

Humanities Minors Restrictions

To prevent overlap in courses there are some restrictions on the Humanities minors relating to a specific area:

  • American Studies (for students who have chosen North America as their area of specialisation);

  • Chinese Economy and Society (for students who have chosen East Asia as their area of specialisation);

  • European Union Studies (for students who have chosen Europe as their area of specialisation);

  • Latijns-Amerikastudies (for students who have chosen Latin America as their area of specialisation).

Students with these areas of specialisation may follow these minors, but they must replace the courses that overlap with their specialisation with other relevant courses. These replacement courses must be submitted to the Board of Examiners for approval.

A minor at another university

You can take courses at another university as a guest student. Enrolment procedures differ between the universities. Make sure to check the procedure and possibilities for guest students in time and also check the amount of credits and the schedule. You also need to ask approval from the board of examiners.

Discretionary Space Package (build your own minor)

If you wish to create your own personalised elective package using courses offered at either Leiden University or another institution of higher education, the following conditions apply: the chosen courses need to cover 30 EC, must have sufficient academic level and must form a cohesive package.
When you build your own minor you will have to submit your package to the board of examiners for approval.

Workload per semester

Some minors have all courses (30 EC) in the first semester, others run over two semesters (2x 15 EC). Next to your discretionary space you will also need to take 30 EC of courses at International Studies during your third year. Depending on your choices for the discretionary space, you can take all courses within the programme in the second semester or take the thesis and thesis seminar in the first semester (15 EC) and take PRINS and your third year elective in the second semester (15 EC). This way you can ensure that the workload is 30 EC for each semester.

Study Abroad

There are several options available to BA International Studies students who wish to study abroad: student exchange with BAIS partners; University-wide partners; Erasmus partners of other programmes; and lastly, students can decide to go on their own as free movers.
All information on the how to arrange your study abroad can be found here.


The discretionary space can also be used for an internship. Under the supervision of one of the faculty’s lecturers (the internship lecturer) and a staff member from your internship organisation (the internship supervisor), you spend some time working for a company or organisation. The activities during an internship should be in line with what you have learned as part of your study programme and it should contribute to the work of the internship organisation.

The total amount of credits for an internship as part of your discretionary space adds up to 30 EC, composed of:

  • The course Organizational Theory, Culture and Behavior (5 EC) in the second semester of your second year;

  • The internship (15 EC), including associated academic assignments, and an internship report (3 EC);

  • An academic research paper (7 EC).

More information on the internship and how to arrange one can be found on the website.

Second Bachelor or completed HBO degree

Students who are doing a second bachelor can request an exemption for the discretionary space.
Students who have completed an HBO (university of applied sciences) programme could potentially use portions of that programme for the discretionary space.

If you want to make use of this option you should ask the Board of Examiners for approval.


There are many options to choose from for the discretionary space. You could use the courses in the discretionary space to personalize your Bachelor, or sometimes to get accepted into a specific Master after your studies (or shorten a pre-master). If you are unsure about choices you need to make, please contact the coordinators of studies who will be able to advise you on this matter.


Study Abroad (Exchange and Free Movers) Internships Coordinators of Studies