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Making the Metaverse with VR, AR and AI


Topics: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Speculative design, Human Computer Interaction
Disciplines: Media Technology, Psychology, Philosophy.
Skills: Researching, Analysing, Generating Solutions, Project-based working, Digital skills, Collaborating, Written communication, Societal awareness, Independent learning.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.


We are in the middle of a transition to spatial computer interfaces. Virtual Reality technology is becoming mature and applications in e.g. training, therapy and education are moving from experimentation to implementation.

Augmented Reality is more complex and still has its technical challenges to overcome. But with the amount of resources being put in the field, it can be expected that in the next five to ten years Augmented Reality will become a main way of interacting with the digital world.

A term that is often used for this new iteration of the Internet is the 'metaverse'. Although quite hyped, the concept packs some interesting elements. Experiences in the metaverse are social, highly connected to other experiences and fluently mix between AR, VR and screen-based 3D.

It is hard to overestimate the effects this development will have on ourselves and our society.
AR glasses could instantly translate conversations to other languages. Medical staff can be presented with the right medical information needed to make a decision. And what will social media look like when we can attach content to the real world?

More philosophical questions also arise. Will we still be able to distinguish reality from fiction? What kind of privacy issues will come up from wearing sensorheavy XR glasses? Is it okay to organize a massive AR game tournament in public space? And what does it mean to be smart in a world where AR headsets help us with our daily activities?

In this course we will follow the methods of speculative design. We will discuss philosophical questions and try to form a vision for the future. You will be guided to transform this vision into a small video game or an AR prototype. As it has become increasingly clear that Artificial Intelligence will play an important role in shaping our digital world, you can use all the AI tools you want in this course, as long as you show your process.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • have a basic understanding of the technology of Virtual, Augmented Reality and the metaverse;

  • have an overview of (possible) applications of Augmented Reality;

  • have gained basic coding and digital design skills to build 3D prototypes;

  • have identified ways in which these ‘new’ computer interfaces will affect us and different aspects of our society;

  • have identified the role Artificial Intelligence has in the development of the ‘metaverse’;

  • have become familiar with methods of speculative design;

  • have written a meaningful exploration of our future with Augmented Reality;

  • have combined the skills and knowledge above to create a speculative design of our digital future.

Programme and timetable:

The sessions of this class will be held on Tuesdays from 19.00 - 21.15.

Session 1: October 10
Experiencing Virtual & Augmented Reality + introduction to course and each other

Session 2: October 17
Skills Lab: creating interactive 3D worlds

Session 3: October 24
AR state of the art: technology, applications and implications

Session 4: October 31
Skills Lab: creating spatial AR experiences

Session 5: November 7
Philosophical questions in the metaverse

Session 6: November 14
Skills Lab: experimenting with AI tools

Session 7: November 21
Presentations & group discussion on essays

Session 8: November 28
Speculative design as a way to think about the future

Session 9: December 5
Guided project work

Session 10: December 12
Guided project work

Session 11 December 19
Final project presentations

PLNT Leiden
Langegracht 70, 2312NV

Reading list:

For this course we will read parts from:
David Rose - SuperSight
Andy Clark – Natural-born Cyborgs
Thomas W. Malone – Superminds
Doug Engelbart – Augmenting Human Intelligence

Other possible literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method:

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

  • Lectures: 11 physical lectures of 2.25 hours = 24.75 hours

  • Literature reading and asynchronous online courses: 22.25 hours

  • Practical work: 10 hours

  • Essay assignment: 33 hours

  • Final project: 45 hours

  • Public final event: 5 hours

Assessment methods:

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • 40% Essay.
    Topic: how will AR affect our lives and our society? Minimum 2000 maximum 3000 words.
    Deadline: November 19

  • 60% Project.
    Speculative design on our future in the metaverse. This prototype is (potentially) based on ideas cultivated in the essay.
    Deadline December 19

It is not required to successfully complete all partial exams in order to pass this course. Students are allowed to compensate a ‘fail’ (grades up to and including 5.0).

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

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 Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Application process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 21 August 2023 up to and including Tuesday 12 September 2023 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

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


Robin de Lange