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Introduction to algebraic topology


Admission requirements

the Leiden bachelor courses Algebra 1 & 2, Lineaire Algebra 1 & 2, Topologie, or their equivalents.


We continue the study of fundamental groups and covering spaces that was started in the course Topologie. Among other things we discuss winding numbers, the Van Kampen theorem, the Borsuk-Ulam theorem. We will also discuss applications of topology in algebra (for example, the result that a subgroup of finite index of a finitely generated free group is free and finitely generated). We will also treat singular homology.

Course objectives

At the end of the course the student will have learnt about some of the fundamental notions and results of algebraic topology. The student will be able to apply the learnt notions and results in several not-too-difficult situations.


The schedule for the course can be found on MyTimeTable.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different

Mode of instruction

Weekly lectures. Homework on a regular basis.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on homework (25%) and a final exam or retake (75%). In order to pass the course the grade for the final exam or retake needs to be at least 5, and the weighted average of homework and final exam or retake needs to be at least 5.5. No mimimum grade for the homework is required in order to be allowed for the exam or in order to pass the course. The homework counts as a practical and there is no retake for it. In the event of a retake, the homework again counts for 25% for the final grade.

Reading list

W. Fulton, "Algebraic Topology, A first course", Springer Graduate Texts in Mathematics 153.
John M. Lee, "Introduction to Topological Manifolds, second edition", Springer Graduate Texts in Mathematics 202.

Both books are available from the university network via SpringerLink.

Also a syllabus will be made available.


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.


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