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Data science skills and applications I: Basic Programming with Python


Admission requirements

This course is for DDG Bachelor Bestuurskunde students.


Algorithmic decision-making in the public sector has given a prominent role to software engineers and computer programmers. However, it has also heightened the need for policymakers to be savvy about algorithms. In this course, students will get a hands on experience of how computer programmes are designed and how data is processed in public services and policymaking.

The course focuses on the programming language, Python, which is a widely used commercial tool that is user friendly for those who are new to programming.

Course objectives

  • Students will develop an awareness of the main concepts in programming.

    • Understanding of the key vocabulary
    • Understanding of how computers follow instructions
    • Understanding of basic data structures
  • Students will be able to create small, meaningful programmes that accomplish goals

    • Students can implement required functions as needed
  • Students will create connections between programming and public governance and policymaking


On the right side of the programme front page of the studyguide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

Lectures (7x2 hours) and practical sessions (7x2 hours).

Assessment method

  • There will be a written examination as well as several smaller assignments spread out over the course block.

  • The final grade for the course will be the weighted average of 55% for the examination and 45% for the assignments.

  • The 45% assignments consist of three small assignments (15% each) which can be compensated with one another.

  • A resit for the 45% assignments consists of one assignment worth 45%.

  • The average final grade for both the 55% exam and 45% assignments must be at least 5.5 to pass the course.

  • Students who do not obtain a sufficient average grade have the option to resit one or both parts (i.e. the exam and/or one subsitute assignment for the series of smaller assignments) depending on which part(s) is/are insufficient.

The teacher will inform the students how the inspection of and follow-up discussion of the exams will take place.

Reading list

There is no textbook or reading list for this course.

Any literature and reading materials will be announced during the course.


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams). Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.

Registration for this course is possible from Tuesday 12 December, 13:00 h.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in MyStudymap you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis.


Dr. A.E.J.L. Lefebvre


It is assumed that students have no previous computer programming experience.