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Honours Programme Faculty of Science

What is the Honours Programme?

The Honours Programme offers several advantages. You have the unique opportunity to broaden your horizon by following courses outside your regular study and by exploring certain topics in depth. The programme draws upon the expertise of our top faculty members with courses especially designed for the Honours Programme. These courses are characterized by relatively small classes (10-25 students), a high degree of teacher-student interaction and are offered for free (no extra charge of tuition fees).

All honours courses you pass appear as extracurricular courses on your BSc diploma. Upon successfully completing the entire programme, you receive a special BSc diploma stating that you have participated in the VU Honours Programme, and that you have completed your BSc degree within three years, with an average of at least 7.5 for your BSc courses and with an increased study load of 30 EC of honours courses.

WHICH COURSES CAN I TAKE?
If you choose the Honours Programme within the Faculty of Science, then you follow 12-18 ECTS (2 to 3 courses) of interdepartmental courses and 12-18 ECTS of departmental courses.

Honours courses

  • Interdepartmental courses

    The programme offered to all Honours students (interdepartmental courses) at the VU consists of a large number of interesting courses you can choose from! An overview can be found on vu.nl/honours.

    These interdisciplinary courses are taught mainly in the evening by the finest lecturers from VU Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam University College, as well as guest lecturers from the Netherlands and abroad. The classes are small and you will be expected to give presentations, write papers and make an active contribution to discussions.

    Enrolment in the Interdepartmental VU HP courses takes place right after each info session at the end of the semester, the so called VU Try Out Classes. 

    More information about the Interdepartmental courses.

  • Departmental courses: Aardwetenschappen en Aarde en Economie
    • Evolutionary Origin of Life and its Driving Forces. (A_HP001), 6 EC. Wordt eens in de twee jaar aangeboden! Periode: januari-april, wekelijks op dinsdag van 17:00 – 20:00 uur; ContactpersoonProf. dr. N.M. van Straalen.
    • Crises in Biology (Honours Programme Universiteit Leiden), 6 EC, voor HP studenten AW, AE, BIO, G&L, en BMW Periode: jaarlijks; in de eerste twee weken van juni op maandag t/m donderdag van 17:00 - 20:00; laatste twee weken van augustus: 14 dagen excursie in Normandië; ContactpersoonProf. dr. J.R. Wijbrans.

    Een uitgebreide beschrijving van de cursussen kun je vinden in de studiegids

    Contact opnemen met cursuscoördinator met vragen over exacte data en tijden

    Het facultaire deel van de BSc Honours programmes Aardwetenschappen (AW) en Aarde en economie (A&E) kan worden ingevuld met:

    • Twee stervarianten van bestaande cursussen binnen de verplichte specialisatierichting van je bacheloropleiding. De stervariant van de cursus is gericht op verdieping en heeft een omvang van 3 EC boven de normale studielast van de cursus. Binnen de stervariant wordt een individueel begeleid literatuuronderzoek uitgevoerd naar een specifiek onderwerp dat binnen de cursus aan de orde komt. Dit literatuuronderzoek wordt afgesloten met een schriftelijk verslag.
    • - Studenten Aardwetenschappen: een individueel vastgestelde onderwijsmodule op een aardwetenschappelijk deelgebied dat geen deel uitmaakt van het verplichte specialisatieprogramma van de student. (Bijvoorbeeld: een student Richting I (geologie) volgt een individueel vastgesteld onderwijsprogramma uit het specialisatieprogramma Richting II (fysische geografie) of een student fysische geografie volgt een individueel vastgesteld en begeleid onderwijsprogramma op het gebied van de geoarcheologie; (andere combinaties zijn ook mogelijk). De omvang van deze module is 6 EC en is gericht op verbreding. Zij wordt afgesloten met een mondeling assessment.
      - Studenten Aarde en economie: de Faculteit der Economische Wetenschappen en Bedrijfskunde (FEWEB) biedt eveneens een honoursprogramma aan. A&E-studenten kunnen het vak “Behavioral Foundations of Economics and Finance” volgen. Andere vakken uit het FEWEB-honoursprogramma kunnen mogelijk gevolgd worden na overleg.
    • Een individuele onderzoeksmodule (de honours bachelorthesis) met een omvang van 12 EC. Deze specifieke honours bachelorthesis betreft een onderzoek binnen één van de wetenschappelijke afdelingen van de faculteit (bijvoorbeeld laboratorium- of modelleeronderzoek) en wordt begeleid door een staflid van die afdeling. Dit onderzoek wordt afgesloten met een schriftelijk verslag en een mondelinge presentatie. Doelstelling van deze onderzoeksmodules is verdieping en de verdere ontwikkeling van academische vaardigheden en onderzoeksvaardigheden. 
    • Een uitbreiding van de reguliere bachelorthesis met maximaal 6 EC bovenop de bestaande studiepunten voor de bachelorthesis. Doelstelling van deze uitbreiding van de bestaande onderzoeksmodule (bachelorthesis) is verdieping en de verdere ontwikkeling van academische vaardigheden en onderzoeksvaardigheden. Dit onderzoek wordt afgesloten met een schriftelijk verslag en een mondelinge presentatie.
  • Departmental courses: Life Sciences
    • Five o’clock Neurosciences. (A_HP003), 6 EC. Wordt eens in de twee jaar aangeboden! Periode: maart mei, wekelijks op woensdag van 17:00 – 20:00 uur; ContactpersoonProf. dr. H.D. Mansvelder.
    • Evolutionary Origin of Life and its Driving Forces. (A_HP001), 6 EC. Wordt eens in de twee jaar aangeboden! Periode: januari-april, wekelijks op dinsdag van 17:00 – 20:00 uur; ContactpersoonProf. dr. N.M. van Straalen.
    • Communication and Innovation in Health and Life Sciences. (A_HP002), 6 EC. Jaarlijks in de periode april-juni; ContactpersoonDr. Tjerk Jan Schuitmaker - Warnaar
    • Nutrition for healthy growth and development in the city. (A_HP004), 6 EC, Jaarlijks in de periode september-december, wekelijks op woensdag van 17:30 - 19:30 uur. Coördinator en contactpersoonProf. dr. Jaap Seidell.
    • Crises in Biology (Honours Programme Universiteit Leiden), 6 EC, voor HP studenten AW, AE, BIO, G&L, en BMW Periode: jaarlijks; in de eerste twee weken van juni op maandag t/m donderdag van 17:00 - 20:00; laatste twee weken van augustus: 14 dagen excursie in Normandië; ContactpersoonProf. dr. J.R. Wijbrans

    Een uitgebreide beschrijving van de cursussen kun je vinden in de studiegids.Contact opnemen met cursuscoördinator met vragen over exacte data en tijdenOpgeven via VUnet.

    Stervarianten  
    Van bestaande 2e en 3e jaars curssussen van je BSc opleiding, inclusief die van de minoren, kan, in overleg met de betrokken docent en je HP tutor, een zg. stervariant worden gedaan. Een stervariant is gericht op verdieping en heeft een omvang van 3 EC boven de normale studielast van de cursus. Binnen de stervariant doe je een individueel begeleid literatuuronderzoek naar een specifiek onderwerp dat binnen de cursus aan de orde komt. Dit literatuuronderzoek rond je af met een schriftelijk verslag. Belangrijk hierbij is dat tijdig contact wordt opgenomen met de betrokken docent/ coördinator van de cursus. 
    Voor aanmelding, de beschrijving, en beoordeling van de stervariant, dien je gebruik te maken van het ‘Honours-extenstion/stervariant-manual’ document op de Canvas site ‘Honours programme FALW’. Als je daar niet bij kunt, email FALW-HP coördinator. 

    Uitbreiding van de reguliere bachelorstage 
    Maximaal 6 EC bovenop de studiepunten voor de reguliere bachelorstage. Doelstelling van deze uitbreiding is verdieping en de verdere ontwikkeling van academische vaardigheden en onderzoeksvaardigheden. Dit onderzoek wordt afgesloten met een schriftelijk verslag en een mondelinge presentatie. 

    Alternatieven 
    Het kan zijn dat je naast bovengenoemde Honoursactiviteiten, bijvoorbeeld graag een cursus wil volgen van een andere opleiding parallel aan een reguliere BSc cursus, en die mee wil laten tellen voor je Honours Programma, of dat je een summerschool wil volgen, of nog een andere variant. In al deze gevallen moet je tijdig contact opnemen met de FALW-HP coördinator of je HP-tutor om te kijken of dit mogelijk is en of je de behaalde studiepunten mee kunt laten tellen voor het facultaire deel van je Honoursprogramma.

  • Departmental courses: Information Sciences, including Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence

    This is the webpage of the the Honours Programme (HP) of the Information Sciences department (Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Information Science), Faculty of Science. If you are looking for other webpages of the HP, see the section ‘Related Pages’ at the end of this document.

    Why?
    If you are a talented and motivated student, the VU Honours Programme offers you the opportunity to invest more in your own area of study and to broaden your horizon. So enroll in the Honours Programme (HP), choose your tracks and topics of deep study, fulfill their requirements, and you will gain knowledge and experience that can change your life.

    What?
    The Information Sciences department has an unique offer: each student can mix and match courses, effectively creating individual tracks of excellence. There are two main types of courses:

    1. Focused on a high quality, scientific research project that is unique for each student.

    2. Focused on learning in the structure of a traditional course.

    Please check the Canvas community Honours Programme CS/ AI/ IS for more details, templates, and community access. 

    How many courses should you take?
    The general structure of the HP at the VU offers the prestigious HP annotation to their BSc degree, upon completing at least 30 ECs over the regular programme of 180 ECs (extra credits). This means you can tailor your own track to include 30 ECs or more extra credits; if you include more than 30 ECs, you invest in an even deeper study in your HP.

    Which courses can you take?
    Consult the extensive section ‘How to complete the Information Sciences HP?’

    Who can apply, how, and when?
    Are you highly motivated, have good grades (above 7.5 grade point average in the first year), and have passed all your first year courses? Then you can apply for the Honours Programme!

    The application procedure is the same across the entire VU HP, so check the detailed requirements, the application form, and the next application deadline here:

    How to complete the Information Sciences HP?
    Are there any general restrictions about the courses you can take? The general structure of the HP at the VU requires that the 30 ECs must include at least 12 ECs and at most 18 ECs obtained from departmental, and at least 12 ECs and at most 18 ECs obtained from interdepartmental courses. Here an example of the research-oriented track depicted below.

    Figure 1. 

    Figure 1. An overview of the research-oriented track that is possible for students who choose to get 18 ECs from research projects and 12 ECs from departmental courses. More figures with different available options can be found on the department’s HP Canvas page.

    Are there any specific restrictions for the courses I can take?
    1. Clarification: any student can obtain more than the 30 ECs necessary to get the Honours Programme annotation. In the following text in this webpage, when we refer to limits we mean the necessary part (lower boundary) and not to the maximal number of credits. For example, a student may want to compose their necessary 30 ECs out of three research projects as departmental courses (Research Project 1-2-3, 18 ECs in total) and two inter-departmental courses (12 ECs in total). However, the student can also _further_ pursue more courses and get more credits for them. Here, the student could, next to the research projects, also learn systematically about the general research process in the X_HP010 HP Research Community and Practice course (6 additional ECs). Then, the student would accumulate 24 ECs as departmental credits, and thus meet and also exceed the 18 planned departmental ECs. The student would still need to meet the limit of 12 inter-departmental ECs.

    2. Second and third-year HP students can take one of the following special HP courses, which focus on the general scientific process and concepts. We currently offer two such courses, X_HP005 Big Ideas in Computing (6EC) about the general principles and fundamental insights into computer science, and X_HP010 HP Research Community and Practice (6EC) about research methods and practice in computer science and artificial intelligence. For enrollment in both courses, contact Selma Zaghow <s.m.a.zaghowvu.nl>. For details about the content of X_HP005, contact the teacher, Ellen Maassen <e.m.maassen@vu.nl>.

    The HP Research Community and Practice focuses on the research process in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence---the philosophy, theories, methods, and body of knowledge associated with the scientific method of our field. We encourage in particular students who have just started their research projects to join this course, which has synergy with their projects. For details about the content of X_HP010, contact the course coordinator, Sara Lusini <s.lusini@vu.nl>.

    3. For other courses, you can only take the courses that are not already part of your own program. This means, for example, that if you are a student in the Computer Science (CS) programme, you can only choose to follow for your HP courses from the AI programme.

    a. Below are the courses you can take if you are enrolled in the CS programme.
    • From the AI track Socially Aware Computing: Robot Interaction, AI in Health, and AI in Health Project (only after completing AI and Health).
    • From the AI track Intelligent Systems: Computational Intelligence and Embodied AI.

    b. Below are the courses you can take if you are enrolled in the AI programme, in the track Socially Aware Computing.
    • From the CS programme: Computer Networks, Software Design, Logic and Modeling.
    • From the AI track Intelligent Systems: Datastructures and Algorithms for AI, Computational Intelligence, and Embodied AI --OR-- Automata and Complexity.

    c. Below are the courses you can take if you are enrolled in the AI programme, in the track Intelligent Systems.
    • From the CS programme: Computer Networks, Software Design, Logic and Modeling.|
    • From the AI track Intelligent Systems: Robot Interaction, AI in Health, and AI in Health Project (only after completing AI and Health).

    d. Below are the courses you can take if you are enrolled in the IS programme.
    • From the CS programme: Computer Networks, Software Design, Logic and Modeling.
    • From the AI track Intelligent Systems: Robot Interaction, AI in Health, and AI in Health Project (only after completing AI and Health).
    • From the AI track Socially Aware Computing: Robot Interaction, AI in Health, and AI in Health Project (only after completing AI and Health).

    What is in the research-oriented track?
    By the end of these modules, you (the student) will learn the skills and knowledge corresponding to the level of a starting, independent researcher with high potential for further development. It is possible that the successful project will end with a high quality publication in a prestigious scientific venue -- this mostly depends on you!

    Within the research track, you will have the choice of pursuing a scientific research project, on one of the possible three variants, of at least 6 / 12 / 18 ECs respectively (see details). For the former two, the remaining credits to reach the minimum of 18 ECs departmental credits, so 6 / 12 ECs, require more departmental coursework. This track is a pilot for Information Sciences, not available across faculties.

    Steps for doing a research project:
    1. Find a topic or supervisor first. If in doubt, please contact us. We can provide you with a list of supervisors or you can approach someone who you would like to work with and ask them if they are willing to supervise you.
    2. Both topic supervisor who agrees with an explicit topic
    3. Develop the problem statement in collaboration with the supervisor and determine the size in EC’s. The scope of the project can be adjusted at a later stage.
    4. Register a short form of the problem statement and EC’s with the HP coordinators.
    5. Develop research in collaboration with the supervisor.

    Can I continue a research project beyond the 18 ECs?
    You can. The HP does not limit the maximum number of ECs, it just specifies the mandatory minimum. For example, some of the successful students in the research-oriented track could choose to earn additional credits training for and then attending various conferences and seminars, where they can present their work to the national and international community.

    Will the successful completion of the Honours Programme show on my transcript?
    A student who has met the requirements of the regular Bachelor's programme within the nominal duration of study, who has achieved an average weighted mark of at least 7.5 for all components of the Bachelor's programme (excluded the honours components) and who has also met the requirements of the honours programme will receive a Bachelor diploma with a transcript indicating that he or she has successfully completed the honours programme.

    Contact
    For all emails about the Honours Programme, make sure you include the string “[vu] [hp]” in the subject of your email.
    For more information about procedures and administration, contact Selma Zaghow at s.m.a.zaghow@vu.nl.
    For more information about content, contact Prof.dr.ir. Alexandru Iosup <a.iosup@vu.nl>. He may delegate your questions related to the AI tracks to dr. mr. Charlotte Gerritsen <cs.gerritsen@vu.nl>.

    Community
    The HP has a community on Canvas, to which we invite all students who have been accepted for the programme.

  • Departmental courses: Natural Science and Mathematics

    The Natural Sciences and Mathematics honours programme selection consists of the following options in all five degree programmes (Bachelor’s in Business Analytics; Bachelor’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences; Bachelor’s in Mathematics; Bachelor's in Medical Sciences; Bachelor’s in Science, Business and Innovation) for the honours programme consisting of 12 or 18 credits:

    • extension of the Bachelor’s assignment, exploring the subject in greater depth through intensive coaching from the lecturer responsible. This extension can take the form of a follow-up study (an extension of the Bachelor’s thesis), a separate thesis (honours thesis), a draft publication or a specific subject. The extension is worth 6 credits; 
    • Privatissimum worth 6 credits: study and develop a caput selectum within the degree programme (major), with direct feedback to the lecturer responsible. 

    Subsequently, in Article 13.1 of the degree programme’s 2019-2020 Academic and Examination Regulations part B, the honours programme options have been published per degree programme.
    After consulting your academic advisor, you can develop and plan the faculty components as published in part B of the Academic and Examination Regulations. It is necessary to have the complete selection of honours subjects approved by your faculty honours coordinator.

    The faculty honours selection can also be completed with star variants of a number of mandatory courses for your Bachelor’s degree programme. The star variant courses have a study load of 3 EC on top of the regular load for the programme component. Within the star variant you could conduct a supervised literature survey into a specific subject that is part of the course. This literature survey is completed with a written report.

  • Registration and contact

    To register, fill in the registration form and add a recent overview of your grades plus a motivational letter. You can register all year round, but the deadline for selection of Honours students starting in their second year is May 1. For students who already want to start in the second semester of their first year, application is due end of November (N.B. different criteria apply!).

    Jorim Tielbeek is Honours Coordinator for the Faculty of Science. If you have any questions about the departmental courses of the Honours Programme, you can contact him via e-mail (honourscommittee.sciences@vu.nl). For general questions about the Honours Programme, send an e-mail to honours@vu.nl.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    For the Frequently Asked Questions about the Honours Programmeplease see here. 

Do you want to know more about the Faculty of Science honours programme?

Please contact Jorim Tielbeek or Huib Mansvelder.

honourscommittee.sciences@vu.nl