Your first year

Studying International Relations and Organisations is a full-time job; it will take you 40 hours a week on average. Attending lectures, tutorials, and work group sessions will take about 16 hours; these are the contact hours. The rest of the time you will study independently or with your fellow students preparing for the lectures and work group sessions, writing assignments and essays, and reading.

During the first year of the programme, you acquaint yourself with the basics of the political science discipline and international politics. Furthermore, you will study related subjects, such as economics and history. An important part of the programme is reserved for skills courses, where you practice text analysis, debating, and academic writing.

You attend lectures with all IRO students from the same year. The work groups consist of about 24 students, and during the work group sessions you actively work with your fellow students on deepening and processing the knowledge you have gained from the lectures and your reading.


The academic year runs from early September to July and consists of two semesters, each divided into two blocks. A block covers 8 weeks, with 7 weeks of teaching and one exam week. At the university, we use the European Credits Transfer System (ECTS) to represent the workload of courses. Each year of the three-year programme consists of 60 EC. One EC stands for 28 hours of studying.

First-year courses:

Binding Study Advice (BSA)

In the course of your first year you will be given regular advice on your progress. This advice is based on objectives that are a good indication of whether or not you are likely to be able to complete your study successfully within the time prescribed. Our Binding Study Advice entails that you need to earn at least 45 out of the 60 study credits at the end of the first year to be able to continue in your second year. If you do not meet this criterion, you will not be able to carry on with your study in Leiden. In formulating this study advice, any relevant circumstances, such as sickness or other personal factors, will, of course, be taken into account.