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Configuring the World


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.

Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principal indices used by regulators, lawmakers, and economists throughout the world to quantify important global trends. This includes bodies such as the UN, The World Bank, and international NGOs. Those who wish to regulate global political, economic and judicial systems (as many of our students will have a hand in doing in the future) require accurate indices and data sets in order to make intelligent policy decisions. This course not only introduces students to these data sets, but shines a strong light on their limitations and the manner in which they have been compiled. Thus we ask: What precisely is being measured? How could it be done better? Do the conclusions drawn by regulators follow logically from the available data? The course includes instruction on basic statistical techniques and excel.
Topics covered include: population, production, human development, poverty, fractionalization, governance, trust, state frailty, state size, and happiness.

The course is 10 ECTS and also incorporates blended learning. Thus, it has three main parts:
1. A lecture serires accompanied by 6 ‘Lecture’ tutorials (5 ECTS)
2. A CTW Project, accompanied by 6 additional ‘Project’ tutorials (5 ECTS)
3. Blended learning, which will aid in both 1 and 2.

Course objectives

Students will learn to:

  • Locate and employ datasets

  • Execute elementary statistical exercises

  • Examine differences between regions and nations at national and sub-national levels

  • Critically evaluate the accuracy and biases in statistical evidence

  • Present evidence in a visually effective way

  • Present their findings in a clear and concise English

  • Posit hypotheses of causal relationships between phenomena

  • Understand how statistics helps verify or refute causal relationships


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Part 1: Lecture series: One two hour lecture per week; bi-weekly Lecture Tutorials
Part 2: Project series: 6 Project Tutorials.

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 × 28 hours= 280 EC, broken down by:

Part 1.

Lectures: 24 hours
Tutorials: 12 hours
Lecture Reading: 36 hours
Tutorial Reading/Preparation: 18 hours
Studying for mid-term and final: 20 hours
Tutorial presentation: 9 hours

Part 2.

Tutorial Attendance: 12 hours
Tutorial Prep: 12 hours
Project Research: 60 hours
Project Creation: 20 hours

Assessment method

There will be separate grades recorded for Part I and Part II.

Part 1: The Lecture Tutors will be responsible for grading Part I.
Mid-term Exam (30%)
Tutorial Presentation (30%)
Final Exam (40%)

Part 2: The Project Tutors will be responsible for Part II.
In-class assignments (30%)
Project Outline (20%)
Project (50%)

The final grade will be the average of both.
If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6) for the CtW course, you will have to complete a resit.
For the CtW course you can resit the following exams and assessments:

Lecture Tutorial (5ECTS):

Multiple choice exam re-sit (for 70% of lecture tutorial grade)
Date: TBA, during the re-sit week in January 2015

Project Tutorial (5ECTS):

Individual project re-submission (for 50% of project tutorial grade)
Maximum re-sit grade is 6.0

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

  • R.T. Griffiths, Configuring the World (edited textbook). Currently available as a reader on Reader online

  • Additional readings will be made available through Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

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

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Hum – OSZ Configuring the World