A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

IBP – After 3 Years

As I’m about to finish my thesis, I can’t help looking back at the last three years in Leiden. It’s definitely been an adventure – academically as well as personally – and probably the best decision I ever made. Here is what I can tell you about the International Bachelor in Psychology (IBP) programme:

Study Load

In our very first lecture, our professor told us we’d have to “hit the ground running” and he really wasn’t joking: The first test is tomorrow, here are five hours of reading materials. Good luck. As you can imagine, we were all pretty shocked – first day of university and already pulling an all-nighter! I’m not going to lie, the first week was quite overwhelming. I remember a third-year student telling us that “it doesn’t get easier, but you get better”, and as cheesy as that sounds, she was right.

If you put in the time, you’ll be astonished at how quickly you get used to the workload. In fact, you’ll even reach a point where you take extra courses just for fun (and extra credit). If you want to be really prepared, I advise reading the first three chapters of Gray’s “Introduction to Psychology” before the first lecture – then you have absolutely nothing to worry about.


Photograph by Laura Cirigliano

Multiple-Choice Exams

Until I started the IBP, the only multiple-choice test I took was the theory exam for my driver’s license. Duh. I quickly learned that I had to modify my way of studying, otherwise there would be no way to cover the whole content. You’re in the same situation? No need to worry! Most courses offer online midterm exams, that give you a realistic impression of what the real exam will be like. If you’re doing well on the test – great! If not, you still have four weeks to adapt your study method.


I hope you like Germans, because you will definitely meet them. In our year, they accounted for about 30% of the incoming IBP students! Going through IBP without making a German friend is almost impossible (we’re friendly and eager to meet you ;)). But it’s not all Bratwurst and Schnitzel, people come from all over the world to do the IBP. A lot of them even have multiple nationalities and already lived in a bunch of countries!

Student Life


In Leiden, you’ll make friends for life!

Dutch student life and IBP are two different things. As an international student at Leiden University, you often stay within the international subculture.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really fun bubble to live in, but if you want to experience authentic Dutch student life, you have to make a bit of an effort. You could join a student association, start working in a student job or join a sports team! Also, learning some Dutch definitely helps.


There is just sooo much to learn, I honestly don’t know where to start. IBP reserved 30 credits for electives, and you can literally go crazy with them. You can go abroad for a semester, take a minor or take electives! If you’re looking for extracurricular challenges, there are workshops (e.g. CV preparation), study events (“Netflix and Learn”) the Leiden Leadership Programme and of course the honours academy. There are also many language classes, and a virtual exchange programme (see extra article here:!


Photograph by Laura Cirigliano


You are pretty independent. Whether it’s the choice of your courses or deciding how to study in the first place: it’s up to you. As an IBP student, you only have a few mandatory classes (approximately 8 hours per week). That can be really awesome, but also means that you are responsible for your time management. Maya has written a great article about the issue of independence in IBP, find it here:

I thoroughly enjoy my time in the IBP programme, and would definitely recommend it! Do you have any questions about the IBP? Let us know in the comments!

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