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Sources of Knowledge: Leiden University Libraries Special Collections


Admission requirements

Same as admission requirements for the BA Art History.


This course gravitates around written, printed, and visual sources from human civilization, including manuscripts, books, maps, and photographs. The goal of the course is twofold: 1) To familiarize students with the physical appearance of these artifacts by investigating such aspects as how they were they made, what they were made of, and how the text or image is presented to the viewer. 2) How the artifacts contribute, through their contents and appearance, to research in a broad range of humane disciplines, such as history, art-history, and literary studies. Following a chronological path from Antiquity to modern times, the course will pair hands-on classes based on real artifacts in Leiden University Library with classes showing how such objects are used in current research.

Course Objectives

  • Students learn to know a broad range of text and image-based artifacts from the Leiden University Library’s Special Collections.

  • Students learn to know the different ways in which text and image-based artifacts are used in current research in such disciplines as history, art-history, and literary studies.


Please note: for the final schedule refer to Timetable BA Art History on the Art History website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and practical sessions in the Leiden University Special Collections.

Important: attendance in seminar sessions is mandatory! In case of no-show, the tutor should be informed about your absence prior to the actual seminar session. Moreover this course cannot be successfully completed by students that were absent more than twice. Only in exceptional cases, the Examination Committee may consider the possibility of an additional or substitute assignment. See also the Course and Examination Regulations.

Course Load

05 ects (140 hours):

26 hrs: Attending classes
52 hrs: Short written assignments
62 hrs: Weekly readings —
140 uur

Assessment method

05 ects (140 hours):

  • Two short written assignments of 40% each (80%).

  • Class participation [attendence, discussion, understanding of the readings] (20%)

Compensation: the weighted average mark should be at least 6.0 (rounded at one decimal).

Resit: A rewrite can be done for constituent examinations which are failed.

Exam review: How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organised.


Blackboard will be used (general information, supplying additional readings)


A selection of articles and book chapters (tba).


Via Usis

Registration Studeren à la Carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof. dr. S.P.M. (Stijn) Bussels