University of Leiden

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Dutch University Leiden University in the city of Leiden, is the oldest still existing and most famous university in the Netherlands. It is a member of the Coimbra Group, the Europaeum and the League of European Research Universities.The university was founded in 1575 by Prince William of Orange, leader of the Dutch revolt in the Eighty Years' War. Over years, the university has developed into a broad research university with an international reputation. Some of its degree programs are unique in the Netherlands and attracts scholars and students from all over the world. Still the royal House of Orange and Leiden University keep close relations. The Queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix and crown-prince Willem-Alexander studied at Leiden University. In 2005 Queen Beatrix received a rare honorary degree from Leiden University.[1] (

Today, Leiden University is a strong research university. With its nine faculties, over 50 departments and more than 150 (under)graduate programs, it enjoys an international reputation. Besides these university institution, it houses more than 40 national and international (research) institutes. With its strong international oriented programs, of which some of them are unique in the region, it still attracts students from all over the world.


The institution

The university has no central campus; its buildings are spread over the city. Some buildings like the Gravensteen (which currently houses the Leiden School of Management) are very old, while buildings like Plexus and Gorlaeus are much more modern. The university is divided into nine major faculties which offer approximately 50 undergraduate degree programs and over 100 graduate programs.

Mathematics and Natural Sciences Website (
Philosophy Website (
Arts Website (
Law Website (
Theology Website (
Archaeology Website (
Social and Behavioural Sciences Website (
Medicine Website (
Creative and Performing Arts Website (

The Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts is a cooperation between Leiden University and the Royal Conservatory and Royal Academy for Art. The university never has had a faculty of economics, business or management, since all these decades one thought this would not fit into its tradition. Yet, in 2002 The Leiden School of Management ( was founded and is currently offering six professional MBA programs.


In 1575 Prince William of Orange presided over one of the few realms in Europe which did not have any universities. The scientific renaissance had begun to highlight the importance of academic study, and so Prince William founded the first Dutch university in Leiden as a reward for the heroic defence of Leiden the previous year against Spanish attacks. Ironically, the name of Philip II of Spain, William's adversary, appears on the official foundation certificate, as he was still the de jure Count of Holland. It is traditionally said that the citizens of Leiden were offered the choice between a university and a certain exemption from taxes, and that the citizens believed that a tax law could be rescinded, whereas the great universities of Europe had survived for many centuries. Originally located in the convent of St Barbara, the university moved to the convent of the White Nuns in 1581, a site which it still occupies, though the original building was destroyed in 1616.

The presence within half a century of the date of its foundation of such scholars as Justus Lipsius, Joseph Scaliger, Franciscus Gomarus, Hugo Grotius, Jacobus Arminius, Daniel Heinsius and Gerhard Johann Vossius, at once raised Leiden university to the highest European fame, a position which the learning and reputation of Jacobus Gronovius, Herman Boerhaave, Tiberius Hemsterhuis and David Ruhnken, among others, enabled it to maintain down to the end of the 18th century.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Leiden University again became one of Europe's leading universities. At the world’s first university low-temperature laboratory, professor Heike Kamerlingh Onnes achieved temperatures of only one degree above absolute zero of -273 degrees Celsius. In 1908 he was also the first to succeed in liquifying helium and can be credited with the discovery of the superconductivity in metals.

Kamerlingh Onnes was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1913. Three other professors received the Nobel Prize for their research performed at Universiteit Leiden: Hendrik Antoon Lorentz and Pieter Zeeman received the Nobel Prize for their pioneering work in the field of optical and electronic phenomena, and the physiologist Willem Einthoven for his invention of the string galvanometer, which among other things, enabled the development of electrocardiography.

These Nobel prize winners, but also the physicists Albert Einstein and Paul Ehrenfest, the Arabist and Islam expert Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje and the law expert Cornelis van Vollenhoven, were among those who pushed the university into a place of international prominence during the 1920s.

At present Leiden has a firmly established its international position among the top research institutes in many fields, including the natural sciences, medicine, social and behavioural sciences, law, and arts and letters. Of the twenty-eight Spinoza awards (the highest scientific award of The Netherlands), seven were granted to professors of the Universiteit Leiden. Literary historian Frits van Oostrom was the first professor of Leiden to be granted the Spinoza award for his work on developing the NLCM centre (Dutch literature and culture in the Middle Ages) into a top research centre. Other Spinoza award winners are linguist Frits Kortlandt, mathematician Hendrik Lenstra and Carlo Beenakker who works his field of mesoscopic physics. Among other leading professors are Ewine van Dishoeck, professor of astronomy at Leiden Observatory, professor of transplantation biology Els Goulmy and Frits Rosendaal, professor of clinical epidemiology.

The portraits of many famous professors since the earliest days hang in the university aula, one of the most memorable places, as Niebuhr called it, in the history of science. The University Library, which has more than 3.5 million books and fifty thousand journals, also has a number of special collections of western and oriental manuscripts, printed books, archives, maps, and atlases. Scholars from all over the world visit Leiden University Library. The research activities of the Scaliger Institute concentrate on the various aspects of the transmission of knowledge and ideas through texts and images from antiquity to the present day.

Among the institutions affiliated with the university are the The KITLV or Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (founded in 1851), the observatory 1633; the natural history museum, with a very complete anatomical cabinet; the museum of antiquities (Museum van Oudheden), with specially valuable Egyptian and Indian departments; a museum of Dutch antiquities from the earliest times; and three ethnographical museums, of which the nucleus was P. F. von Siebold's Japanese collections. The anatomical and pathological laboratories of the university are modern, and the museums of geology and mineralogy have been restored.

Missing image
The Victoria Lily at the Hortus Botanicus
The Hortus Botanicus (botanical garden) is the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands. Plants from all over the world have been carefully cultivated here by experts for more than four centuries. The Clusius garden (a reconstruction), the 18th century Orangery with its monumental tub plants, the rare collection of historical trees hundreds of years old, the Japanese Von Siebold Memorial Garden symbolising the historical link between East and West, the tropical greenhouses with their world class plant collections, and the central square and Conservatory exhibiting exotic plants from South Africa and southern Europe.

Research at Leiden is well developed. There are many university research institutes and Leiden participates in over forty nation-wide research schools, twelve of which being located in the heart of Leiden.


Most of the university's departments offer their own degree program(s). Undergraduate programs lead to either a B.A. or B.Sc. degree. Other degrees such as the B.Eng. B.F.A. or a LL.B. are not awarded at Leiden University.

  • African Languages and Cultures
  • Archeology
  • Arabic, Persian and Turkish Languages and Cultures
  • Art History
  • Assyriology
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese Languages and Cultures
  • Classics
  • Comparative Indo-European Linguistics
  • Computer Science
  • Criminology
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Developmental Sociology
  • Dutch Language and Literature
  • Dutch Studies
  • Educational Sciences
  • Egyptian Languages and Cultures
  • English Language and Culture
  • French Language and Culture
  • German Language and Culture
  • History
  • Hebrew and Aramaic Languages and Cultures
  • Indian American Studies

  • Indology (South and central Asia)
  • Indonesian Languages and Cultures
  • Italian Language and Culture
  • Japanese Languages and Cultures
  • Korean Languages and Cultures
  • Latin American Studies (Spanish Languages and Cultures)
  • Law (General Dutch Law track)
  • Linguistics
  • Life Science and Technology
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine (6-year track)
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • New Persian Languages and Cultures (Turkish)
  • Notarial Law
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Psychology
  • Russian Studies
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Southeast Asia and Oceania Languages and Cultures
  • Sustainable Molecular Science and Technology
  • Tax Law
  • Theology
  • World Religion Studies

Graduate Studies. Students can choose from a range of graduate programs. Most of the above mentioned undergraduate programs can be continued with a either a general or a specialised graduate program. Leiden University offers more than 100 graduate programs leading to either M.Phil., M.Sc., M.A., MBA, or LL.M. degree. The M.Phil. is a special research degree and only awarded by selected departments of the university (mostly in the fields of Arts, Social Sciences, Archeology, Philosophy, and Theology). Admission to these programs are highly selective and primarily aiming at those students opting for a academic career.

Some of the notable graduate programs are

  • Behavioural Science
  • Drug Delivery Technology and Biopharmaceutics
  • East-Asian Studies
  • European Business Law
  • European Studies
    Missing image
    The Gravensteen, currently housing the Leiden School of Management
  • Evolutionary and Ecological Sciences
  • Functional Genomics
  • International Public Law
  • International Relations and Diplomacy
  • Islamic Studies
  • MBA in Creative and Performing Arts
  • Nanoscience
  • Philosophy of a certain discipline
  • Toxicology
  • Aerospace Law

In addition, most departments, affiliated (research)institutes or faculties offer doctorate programs or positions, leading to the Ph.D degree. Most of the Ph.D. programs offered by the university are concentrated in several research schools or institutes.

Research schools and affiliated institutes

Leiden University has more than 50 research and graduate schools and institutes. Some of them are fully affiliated with one faculty of the university, while others are interfaculty institutes or even interuniversity institutes. Most of the scholars working in the Netherlands are associated with one of these schools or institutes.

ASC Research Centre for African Studies Website (
CNWS Research School of Asian, African, and American Studies Website (
E.M. Meijers Institute Research School for Legal Studies Website (
Grotius Centre Research Centre for International Legal Studies Website (
GSS Leiden Graduate School of Science Website (
Huizinga Instituut Research Institute and Graduate School of Cultural History Website (
IBL Leiden Research Institute for Biology Website (
IIAS International Institute for Asian Studies Website (
IOPS Interuniversity Graduate School Psychometrics and Sociometrics Website (
ISED Institute for the Study of Educational and Human Development Website (
LACDR The Leiden Amsterdam Center for Drug Research Website (
LCMBS Leiden Centre for Molecular BioScience Website (
LGSAS Leiden Graduate School for Archeology Website (
LIACS Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science Website (
LIC Leiden Insitute of Chemistry Website (
LION Leiden Institute of Physics Website (
LISOR Leiden Institute for the Study of Religion Website (
LUMI Leiden University Mathematical Institute Website (
LOT Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics Website (
Mediëvistiek Netherlands Research School for Medieval Studies Website (
NIG Netherlands Institute of Government Website (
NOVA Netherlands Research School for Astronomy Website (
N.W. Posthumus Instituut Netherlands Research Institute and School for Economic and Social History Website (
OIKOS National Graduate School in Classical Studies Website (
Onderzoekschool Kunstgeschiedenis Dutch Postgraduate School for Art History Website (
OSL Netherlands Graduate School for Literary Studies Website (
PALLAS Research Institute of History, Art History and Literatures of the Western World Website (
Polybios Graduate School for Political Science and International Affairs
Sterrewacht Leiden Leiden Astronomical Observatory Website (
The Europe Institute Research Institute for Legal Studies in the Field of European Integration Website (
ULCL Research Centre for Linguistics Website (
Van Vollenhoven Institute Research Institute for Law, Governance and Development Website (

Alumni and other people associated with the Leiden University

See also

External links

Template:Dutch universities Template:LERU Template:Europaeum

Coimbra Group
(of European research universities)
Coimbra Group
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de:Universität Leiden fr:Université de Leiden ja:ライデン大学 nl:Universiteit Leiden


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