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World History


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


What is history and how do we study it? What is world history and how is this distinct from other approaches? The aim of this course is to introduce students to the academic study of history and to discuss and debate the factors and actors which have shaped the human experience over the course of the last millennium. The student will be exposed to the concepts and ideas that guide the academic study of history. Moreover, we will examine a series of themes, such as communication, trade, religion, war and modernity, which cover both the timeframe of the last 1000 years chronologically, as well as bring forward the distinct experiences in the different world regions. These themes offer windows into the discussions between historians and both the distinct and comparable experiences across time and place.

The plenary lectures each week will aim to shed light on these key themes, based on connections, as well as an assessment of similarities and divergence. The lectures are followed by bi-weekly tutorials, under the guidance of Tutorial-lecturers, to help the student gain an in-depth understanding of the required reading material and to offer an opportunity to ask questions, and engage in discussions and debate.

Course objectives

At the end of the course the students will have acquired the following knowledge and understanding of history:

  • The students will have familiarised themselves with the academic understanding of history and world history.

  • To a basic degree, acquired knowledge and understanding of key concepts and structures in the field of history.

  • To a basic degree, acquired knowledge and understanding of the methods that are used in historical investigation.

  • To a basic degree, acquired knowledge of international affairs and the historical approach to the study and interactions in the international domain.

At the end of the course the student will have acquired the following skills:

  • The student is able to operate in a multicultural environment.

  • The student is able to form an opinion about historical texts.

  • The student will be able to write an exam with both closed and open questions.

  • The student will be able to collaborate and has developed essential academic learning skills.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every two weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your Tutorial-lecturer in advance. Being absent at more than two of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (40% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first two sessions. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the Tutorial-lecturer.

Assessment method


  • Final Exam:
    Written examination with short open questions and (up to) 50% multiple choice questions.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 40%
Final Exam 60%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Tutorial grade and Final Exam grade.

  • The Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Final Exam grade is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 60% of the exam material, replacing the Final Exam grade. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2023 – 2024.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

The required reading will be Isabelle Duyvesteyn and Anne Marieke van der Wal (eds.), World History for International Studies (Leiden University Press, 2022). Available at this or this website. Please note that together with the readings, an online platform will accompany the course, where additional material can be found.


The programme’s administration office will register all first year students for the first semester courses in uSis, the registration system of Leiden University.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration Exchange

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.



All other information will be available via Brightspace.