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Dutch Debates – Topical Questions in Dutch Society, Culture I


Admission requirements

This course is part of the BA-curriculum Dutch Studies. 40 places are available for other (non-Dutch Studies) international exchange students.
An open mind and the willingness to get to know the Netherlands and other cultures, is a prerequisite for this course. Although with a large group, this seminar is an interactive one. It is expected from participants that they prepare for the classes and contribute to the discussions, either outside, or during class hours.


The Dutch have created their own country, but what will be the effect on this land of the changing climate? Who are the Dutch and what problems does society face when its population changes, in age, in ‘color’ or in religion? Do these changes effect feelings of national identity (if we can decide what that is)? How can we react to those changes? And does the Dutch reaction differ from other countries’ reactions? These are questions that we will explore in this course.
week 1 - Introduction
week 2-4 Chapters (check reading list below) from Discovering the Dutch and accompanying lectures will provide you with basic knowledge.
week 5 - Multiple-choice test on the material discussed in weeks 2-4.
week 6 - Discuss the results of the test and introduce the core of this course.
week 7-12, six debates will be explored in depth, and from different angles. The following subjects will be studied:
week 7 - The Changing Climate (with focus on water)
week 8 - An Ageing Population
week 9 - Populism
week 10 - Immigration and the Multicultural Society
week 11 - Religion and Secularization Europe and National Identity
week 12 - Europe and National Identity

Each student will study the debate from one angle. The assignments vary per week, per subject and per student, but will include scientific reports, articles, interviews with Dutch people, documentaries, field trips and comparisons with other cultures. In class, you report orally on your work to a small group. In this small group, all the different perspectives will be heard. After the discussions, some groups will be asked to present their outcomes to the whole class. As participation of all students is essential for this core part of this course, active participation is required and individual contributions will be assessed, mainly in peer reviews.

week 13 - The course will be rounded off with a written assignment in which you demonstrate your knowledge and insights. In week 13, the lecturer will be available for tutoring, but if you prefer, you may also work elsewhere.

Course objectives

During this course, students:

  • get to know the backgrounds of several topical subjects in the Netherlands

  • learn to read, summarize and recapitulate academic texts of different kinds

  • meet with people and places in the Netherlands and experience the subjects firsthand

  • develop their intercultural communication skills by discussing the topics with other international students will work together in an international group and peer review the contributions


Fridays 11.15 - 13 hrs.

The timetable is available on the Dutch Studies website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Tutoring

Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours= 140 hours

  • Weekly meetings: 26

  • Study of Discovering the Dutch including exam in week 4: 40

  • Six assignments: 48

  • Written assignment: 26

Assessment method


  • Written examination with multiple choice questions and short answer questions in week 45

  • Attendance and active participation in weeks 7– 12

  • Written assignment


  • Examination – 50%

  • Written assignment – 50%

  • Attendance and active participation is mandatory


  • There will be a resit for the examination

  • Absence or insufficient participation in weeks 7 – 12 have to be compensated with a written assignment

Exam review

The exam review will take place in week 5.


Blackboard( will be used for:

  • program information

  • class materials

Reading list

  • Emmeline Besamusca & Jaap Verheul [eds.], Discovering the Dutch. On Culture and Society of the Netherlands. Revised and Enlarged Edition. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2014. From this book: Introduction and chapters 1 – 2 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 9 – 10 – 12 – 17 – 19 – 21 – 23 – 24 (170 pgs).

  • Additional materials and assignments for the seminars will be announced on Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


You can contact the lecturer Ms. Liesbet Winkelmolen about the contents of the course, for other general and practical matters, turn to the student adviser, ms. I. Zagar and for administrative matters, for instance if you have problems with registering in usis, the administration of Dutch Studies.