A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

The Double-edged Sword of IBP

For those of you who plan to study in Leiden, I’m sure many are interested in the International Bachelor of Psychology. It is, after all, one of the most popular international bachelor programs in Leiden. But there is something that isn’t stressed enough in the whole frustrating application process. Or, at least, isn’t explained well enough. This is the issue of independence.

“The issue of independence?” you must think I’m crazy. How is independence a problem? Well, let me explain to you what I mean by that.


The question of study load was something that troubled me greatly before I choose to study at Leiden. More specifically, I wanted to know how many hours a week I will be studying. Unfortunately, the answer I got from the students I managed to find was always around the lines of “well, it depends”.

So now, as a student, I’m going to finally give an answer to those with the same inquiry. How many hours will you be studying then? The answer is, and I’m sorry for that, that it truly does depend on a lot.

The thing about the program is that you have very few weekly contact hours (ranging from 10 to about 18). It sounds great, at first, but then you realize that most of the studying is not going to lectures or workgroups. It’s the reading. And, oh boy, is there a lot of that.

Pros- for those who know how to manage their time, this is amazing. You can study four days a week, then have a long relaxing weekend. You’ll always feel like your life is well balanced, never too stressed, and you’ll look funny at those who complain that they’re studying all the time.

Cons- let’s be honest, most of us are not good at managing our time, and even if we are, it usually depends on the time of the year, our motivation, the specific course, and our private life events. Many students find it very hard to manage their time, either procrastinating and then having too much to do, or just poorly dividing their work. Let me give you a slight, but fair, warning: if you don’t think you can handle doing most of the studying on your own (that means reading a lot, doing the assignments, and finding the time and motivation to do these), then perhaps this program won’t suit you. This is not the kind of program where you can just go to the lectures and get by.

Choosing courses

To complete the program you’ll need to have 180 ECT at the end of your third year, 30 of which are specialization courses, and 30 are electives. The nice part is that for the specializations choose three out of nine possible options. And the electives? Well… you can really go nuts with these. For the 30 ECTS of the electives, you can choose to do many things.


How to get 30 electives ECTS?

  1. Do a minor! It doesn’t have to be in Psychology, there are really interesting minors open to all students.
  2. Take electives from psychology- courses like Artificial Intelligence or Sexology are very interesting, and they are offered to all psychology students.
  3. Take courses in other universities– you are allowed to take courses in other universities in The Netherlands. However, they must be approved by your study advisor. Forensic psychology is a popular one, for example.
  4. Take more specialization courses- yes, some people are crazy like that. They will work much harder so they can have more master’s options later on. And who’s to say they’re wrong?
  5. Go on a semester abroad! The credits you receive in your host university count, and there are barely any courses you can’t Want to learn French in Paris? Go for it. Hindu in Thailand? Be my guest! Surfing in Mexico?… No. that’s actually not an option. Sorry.
  6. Take “random” courses from other subjects at Leiden University- you can choose to take courses from other faculties. This is perfect for those of you who are also interested in another field or those who have already had enough of psych

Pros- freedom! You get to study whatever you want for the equivalent of a whole semester, which is awesome! You can really adjust the program to your interest, having a unique study experience, and an opportunity to broaden your horizon.

Cons– decisions and responsibility. It can be very difficult to make a decision with so many options available, and there are a lot of rules to be aware of. You have to do research yourself to make sure that your plan will be accepted by the university, and the assistance and support they offer in this process is, unfortunately, very limited.

Summing up

When it comes to the independence and freedom that the program grants you, it’s important to remember the wise words of Spiderman: with great power, comes great responsibility. You can choose to be pessimistic and focus on the weight that’s being put on your shoulders, or you can choose to look at the bright side and be thankful for the freedom and independence that you have.

Regardless, I am personally very happy with the program, and would highly recommend it. Just make sure you understand what this means before you make the journey.

One comment on “The Double-edged Sword of IBP

  1. Clara Diedrich
    May 2, 2019

    Nice post! As a fellow Psychology student I must add that people who start to study IBP in Leiden should be aware of the seemingly extremely high study load at the very beginning of the programme. You should not expect a slow and easy start, you’re rather thrown into homeworks, readings, and weekly tests. A lot of people I knew were scared off by this so it’s good to know. You’ll get used to it though and learn to not stress about it. I also recommend the course 🙂

Leave a Reply


This entry was posted on April 5, 2019 by in How to choose your study, Maya, My programme, Student Life, Study, Uncategorized.

Hit Counter

  • 894,636 total visits!
%d bloggers like this: