nl en

Academic Writing



First-year programme.

Admissions requirements



Academic Writing is a group of courses that offer an introduction to a particular academic discipline, including history of art, cultural history, literary history, economic history and the history of law. The Academic Writing courses not only differ in terms of their subject but also in the periods they cover, which range from the Middle Ages to today’s world. However, what the courses do share is that while you are learning about their specific subject, they all teach you, step by step, how to write and do research at university.

In Block 1 the writing part of every AW course will cover the stages and skills involved in the composition of an academic argument, including close reading, finding and evaluating sources, developing a thesis, using textual evidence, organizing ideas with clarity, citation and referencing as well as strategies for planning and revision. We will also address the subjects of styling, structure, register, coherence and cohesion and you will learn how to examine and evaluate your peers’ texts and to provide constructive feedback. Particular attention will be paid to the subject of plagiarism and how to avoid it. The focus of Block 2 will be on research and this part of the course will take you through every step of the research essay, from how to prepare and write a research proposal to adding the final touches to your paper.

In Semester 1 five AW courses will be offered – please read the following descriptions carefully before choosing which course you want to take as it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to move to another course after you have registered.

Portraying Power: the Politics of Prints and Paintings in the Early Modern Period (Drs. Jacqueline Hylkema)
This course provides a first introduction to the academic discipline of art history and focuses on the complex relationship between politics and the visual arts in the early modern period. In the first block, we will study a number of different Dutch and English representations of the theme of the Continence of Scipio and interpret them in the light of the political context of their creation. In the second block we will explore a number of other early modern paintings and prints, ranging from the Stuart court portraits by Anthony van Dyck to Romeyn de Hooghe’s Glorious Revolution prints, and discuss how these engaged with the political ideas and issues of their time. Although the course’s main emphasis will be on iconology, we will also discuss several practices and concepts related to the creation, display and reception of art, such as patronage and propaganda, and study their political implications. The course will include a class at Leiden University’s Special Collections, where you will learn how to conduct art historical research and have the opportunity to work with rare seventeenth-century prints and manuscripts.

The Role of Courts and Tribunals in International Criminal Justice (Dr. Philomena Dol)
In this particular section we will focus on the role which international criminal courts and tribunals play in dispensing justice. From the aftermath of World War II until today, criminal courts and tribunals have been established to bring perpetrators of war crime and crimes against humanity to justice in an attempt to end impunity. Advocates of these courts and tribunals argue that they are essential for establishing international criminal justice. Others, however, find that these organizations cannot effectively deal with war crime and crimes against humanity. In this group, taking the International Criminal Court as a starting point, we will examine arguments from a number of academic sources from the field of international criminal law in order to better understand the phenomenon of international criminal justice.

The Fair, the Chaste, and the Ugly: Women in Late Medieval English Literature (Dr. Nienke Venderbosch)
When Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani was found guilty of adultery by an Iranian court in 2006, she was sentenced to death by stoning. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague denounced the stoning as a “medieval punishment”, explaining that stoning “has no place in the modern world” and that it would “disgust and appal the watching world”. Hague’s response to Mohammadi-Ashtiani’s plight is just one example of how the term “medieval” has come to be used not only to refer to a specific historical period but also to condemn practices considered particularly backwards, primitive, or savage. But how “medieval” was the treatment of women in the actual Middle Ages? In this course, we will explore this question by studying the depiction of women in stories written in thirteenth-, fourteenth-, and fifteenth-century England. What do these tales tell us about how women were viewed, what roles they played, and what kind of power and agency they had? We will start by reading together the tale of a young knight who must find the answer to the question “What is it that women most desire?”, written by the man often considered the Father of English literature: Geoffrey Chaucer. After that, you will choose your own focus based on the questions and texts you find most thought-provoking.

Politics and Performance at the Tudor Court (Dr. Nadia van Pelt)
This course offers an introduction to Early English drama and ritual performed at the Tudor court. Focusing on the political dangers of performing drama in the presence of King Henry VIII and his most influential advisors, and the social and legal impacts of such political drama on non-royal spectators, we will explore a number of plays, including works by John Heywood and John Bale, in their distinct contexts. We will address issues of propaganda, offering counsel through drama, licensed merriment, and the social constructions of the courtly space. Alongside the dramatic works, we will also study non-literary sources such as diary entries, diplomatic correspondence, and accounts.

The Washington Consensus and its Discontents (Dr. Michelle Carmody)
When Mexico declared its inability to service its foreign debt in the early 1980s, economists saw an opportunity to start making sweeping reforms to kick start the economy of developing countries. The following years were spent theorizing the best way to promote growth that would benefit both the Third World nations involved and the global economy as a whole. In 1990 economist John Williamson presented what he called the ‘Washington Consensus’, a set of policy prescriptions that advocated what we commonly call neoliberal reforms for the developing world. Since then, this policy has received waves of praise, waves of criticism, been slavishly adopted and, later, been rejected as a macroeconomic model for development. In this course we will return to the original sources to understand exactly what was the Washington Consensus, who promoted it and what economic perspective did they come from, who opposed it and what perspective did they come from, and now that we are in the twilight of neoliberalism, what has succeeded it? This course draws on economic history and development studies to explore one of the most fundamental series of reforms applied by the international development community in the third world, the outcomes of these policies and the responses to it. Knowledge of economics is not required but a familiarity with economic terms, or at least a comfortability with reading and using them, will be an advantage.

Please note the theme of the AW course offered in Block 3 is to be determined.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students:

  • can describe and explain the basic principles of their chosen subject and its main discourses, approaches, methodologies and terminologies

  • can conduct research at undergraduate level and have the skills to find, evaluate, analyze and process sources

  • can carry out an essay project, from the first idea to the final revision

  • can structure and present an effective thesis and argumentation

  • can properly style all different elements of an academic essay and use a style manual

  • can collaborate with peers in terms of providing useful feedback on other students’ work and effectively processing the feedback on their own as well as working together on planning a project and doing the research for it

  • can prepare and give an effective research presentation

  • can explain exactly what plagiarism entails and are able to avoid it through proper citation and referencing


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Every Academic Writing course is different and depending on which one you take, your course can include different methods and activities, including hands-on excursions to research libraries and other institutes. The structure and teaching of the writing part however is the same for all courses, including the general set-up of the writing assignments and their deadlines. In Block 1, Information Specialists from Leiden University Libraries will teach the same class to all course groups and you will also be expected to complete several online tutorials provided by Leiden University Libraries.

The close reading, analysis and discussion of texts form the backbone of this course, with one 2-hour session per week from Weeks 1 to 14. Almost every week you will write short assignments, all of which will build up progressively towards the two graded essays. The first essay will offer an original interpretation of a primary source and will incorporate secondary sources designated by your teacher and discussed in class. The second essay will be based on your individual research. On the basis of your research proposal, you will be placed in a research group and you will be expected to work very closely with your group members throughout the block. You will exchange ideas and sources, peer-review each other’s drafts and prepare and give a research presentation together.

In Block 1, all students will have a short, individual tutorial with their lecturer to receive and discuss individual feedback on their writing and towards the end of Block 2, every research group will attend a group-tutorial to discuss the first drafts of the research essay.

Attendance: Given that this is an intensive course, in which you will be learning skills that are crucial to your career, as a student at LUC and afterwards, you should try not to miss any class unless you have an exceptional and valid reason. If you have to be absent, please be aware that it is your responsibility to catch up with any missed classwork and submit your assignments on time or by the extended deadline agreed on – in advance – with your instructor.

Participation: You are expected to participate actively in class discussions, take notes, and respond to your peers’ writing. This means that you will have to do all the preparation for the class, including the reading, meticulously. Almost every week, you are expected to read at least 3 of your peers’ assignments on the discussion forum and come to class prepared to discuss them critically.


Assessment: Participation (in-class participation)
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: ongoing Weeks 1 – 15

Assessment: Essay 1 (1500 words)
Percentage: 35%
Deadline: week 8

Assessment: Research presentation in Block 2
Percentage: 10%
The date of the presentations will be announced at the start of Block 2. Do please note that even though this is a group assignment, students will be graded individually.

Assessment: Final research essay (2500 words)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: week 15

Please note that in addition to the two graded essays, there will be additional writing assignments (the building blocks) due for almost every week of the course. You must submit all the assignments – graded as well ungraded – in order to pass the course and you will be penalized (points will be taken from your essay grades – please see the syllabus for more information about this) for missed deadlines, including those for the building block assignments. If you need an extension, please contact your lecturer in advance of the deadline.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Please see the syllabus of your specific AW course.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Jacqueline Hylkema,


Please read the course syllabus (which you will find on Blackboard) very carefully before the first class. After this first class, you will be expected to know and understand the course rules and requirements so do please ask if anything is unclear.