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Choosing courses is a big decision! You can find all of the course options available to you below. Please see the Individual Course Selection Process for information about how to choose.

Semester in Amsterdam students can choose to follow a minor programme or create their own schedule of individual courses from the lists in the Exchange Study Guide. You are also invited to take an elective Dutch language or history course. Academically motivated students are encouraged to apply to honours courses as well. 

Course Options for Semester in Amsterdam Students

Individual Course Selection Process

  • Choose From the Right Course Lists

    If you will create your own schedule of courses, please carefully read the following information and make sure to choose from the right course lists.

    You can choose from 1,100+ English-taught Bachelor's and Master's level courses. 

    When choosing courses, you should only choose courses listed under the Exchange programme in the study guide. Not all courses listed in degree programmes are available to be taken as a Semester in Amsterdam student. All courses listed in the Exchange Study Guide are taught in English, but you can always check the language via the details in the course description. 

    Please note the following:

    • Although Semester in Amsterdam students choose from the same course list as exchange students, the Semester in Amsterdam Programme is a separate programme from the Exchange Programme at VU Amsterdam. Semester in Amsterdam students follow different course registration procedures.
    • Course lists for the new academic year are posted in April/May and the timetables are published a few months before the start of each semester. See the Practical Information at the bottom of this page for more information.
    • Until the academic timetable is published, your choices are considered provisional and subject to change. For this reason, we suggest having backup course selections ready.
  • Choose Courses From the Right Period

    Due to the semester/period structure, courses may be shorter and more intense than you are used to. Rather than taking a few courses that last the entire semester, you will take 4 - 5 courses that each last 4 - 8 weeks. This means you have quite a bit of flexibility in how you plan your schedule.  You are also free to skip the last period (period 3 or 6) in each semester so that your semester is a month shorter and you can return home at the end of December (Fall semester) or the beginning of June (Spring semester).  

    The academic year is divided into two semesters. The first semester (Fall) consists of periods 1, 2, and 3 and takes place from the beginning of September to the end of January. The second semester (Spring) consists of periods 4, 5, and 6 and takes place from the beginning of February to the end of June. 

    Students generally take 2 - 3 courses in each of the first two periods, though this is not required. You could, for example, take one course during Period 1, three courses during Period 2, and one course during Period 3. We strongly recommend that you do not take more than 3 courses in any one period as this is usually too many, and most students are not able to take that many courses at once and still pass.

    Please see the Academic Calendar for more information about the semester/period structure at VU Amsterdam and the ECTS credit system.

  • Check the Recommended Background and Requirements

    Please pay special attention to any recommended or required background knowledge listed in the course descriptions for each of your chosen courses. While some courses are open to be taken as elective courses by students with all different kinds of academic backgrounds, other courses require you to have specific background knowledge in a specific field. We will check to make sure you meet the requirements before we enroll you in courses.

    Faculty of Behaviour and Movement Science 

    Courses listed within the faculty of Behaviour and Movement Science have a limited capacity. Students must have completed the equivalent of at least 30 ECTS of psychology courses to be eligible to participate in these courses. If you do not have a psychology background, you are not eligible to take these courses.

    Faculty of Business and Economics 

    Students who wish to take Business and Economics courses should pay special attention to the listed background requirements. For these courses, the recommended background knowledge is usually required. 

    Course Level

    In general, you should choose courses which match your level. Undergraduate courses at VU Amsterdam range from level 100 to 300 with 100 being first-year/introductory-level courses, 200 being second-year, and 300 being third-year/advanced-level courses. If you wish to take a 200-level course, then you should at least be in your second year of Bachelor's study. If you wish to take a 300-level course, then you should at least be in your third year of Bachelor's study. 

    Master-level Courses 

    Bachelor’s students are not allowed to follow Master’s courses unless these courses are also listed in the Exchange Study Guide under Bachelor’s courses. 

    Master courses range from 400 to 600. In addition to course-specific entry requirements, students interested in following Master-level courses must also meet the admission requirements for the graduate degree programme to which the course belongs. This includes submitting a copy of your Bachelor's diploma and proof of an English proficiency test (for non-native speakers).

  • Choose a Maximum of 30 ECTS

    A regular workload for one semester is 30 ECTS (usually 5 courses worth 6 ECTS each). Most students take 24 - 30 ECTS. If you do not have to meet specific degree requirements or other requirements set by your home university or study abroad provider, we recommend taking 2 courses per period. This will give you a little extra time to study and explore during your semester abroad.

Practical Information

  • Course Selection and Registration Process

    Course Selection Period

    • Fall Semester: End of May/Beginning of June
    • Spring Semester: End of November/Beginning of December

    Please note that all course selections are considered provisional until the academic timetable is posted in July (Fall semester) or December (Spring semester) and the official registration period begins. We will ask for a preliminary list of your course selections in May/June (Fall semester) or November/December (Spring semester) in order to check that you meet the background requirements for your chosen courses. If you don't meet the requirements, we will work with you to choose new courses. Please consult the Individual Course Selection Process listed above before selecting courses.

    Course Registration Period

    • Fall Semester: Middle of July
    • Spring Semester: End of December

    As a Semester in Amsterdam student, you cannot register yourself for courses. Therefore, you do not have access to the course registration page in your VU Dashboard. This is normal. The Semester in Amsterdam staff will register you for courses as soon as the academic timetable is posted online. Once you have been enrolled in courses, you will be able to view these courses in your personal timetable at

    We will request a total of two course selection/registration forms from students, one course selection form and one final course registration form. Please keep in mind that you are required to send both forms back and also check for overlaps in the academic timetable before you will be registered for courses. We will send you detailed information about this process by email after the final programme cancellation deadline has passed. If you are participating through a study abroad organization, they may complete this process for you.

  • Exams and Re-Sit Exams

    Exam Registration

    When the Semester in Amsterdam staff registers you for courses, we also automatically register you for the final exam as well as the main lecture or workgroup for each course and any other listed sections (such as a digital exam - DX). Can't see your exams in your personal timetable? Please have a look at the "Academic Timetable and Online Learning Platform" tab below.

    Re-Sit Exams

    You must be present in Amsterdam if you want to take the re-sit exam. Most courses offer the chance to take a re-sit exam if you fail the first exam, but if you only stay until period 2 in the Fall semester or period 5 in the Spring semester, then the date of the re-sit exam often occurs after you have already returned home. The Semester in Amsterdam staff does not have the power to arrange proctored re-sit exams.

    Failing Grades and Re-Sit Exam Registration

    If you have received a failing grade of less than 5.5 or a grade of NVD for the first exam, you will automatically be registered for the re-sit exam. If you did not take part in the first examination and received an NS (No Show), or if you passed the examination but want to receive a better grade, you must send a request to Semester in Amsterdam in order to be registered for the re-sit; you cannot do this yourself. We can register you for the re-sit exam as soon as the results of your first final exam are published in your VU Dashboard (*not Canvas) and up to 2 weeks before the date of the re-sit exam.

    If you decide to take the re-sit exam, the re-sit grade is the grade that counts, even if it is lower than the grade you received for your first final exam. If you register for a re-sit but do not participate, a No Show will be registered but the grade you received on the original exam will still remain valid.

  • Course Registration (Add/Drop) Deadlines

    At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the academic year is divided into two semesters. Each semester is then divided into three periods. If you do not yet understand the period structure, please first carefully review all of the information provided here on the Academic Calendar page and pay special attention to the information provided about the Semester Structure and ECTS. 

    Below you can find the deadlines to add or drop courses for the current and upcoming semester. We can register or deregister you for courses until 23.59 on the last de-/registration date listed for each period. The deadline to add new courses occurs earlier than the deadline to remove courses, which means you will not have a chance to "try out" all of your courses before they start. Please note that if you are enrolled in a minor programme, you are only permitted to drop period 3 courses if you wish to stay in the minor.

    For courses that take place over the course of two periods (courses in period 1+2 or 4+5), the registration deadline of the period in which the course starts always applies (period 1 for period 1+2 courses). If a course lists more than one period, this course is continuous and you must participate in both periods.

    Course Registration Add/Drop Deadlines 2022-2023

    Fall 2022 (Semester One)Deadline to Add New CoursesDeadline to Drop/Remove CoursesInstruction Period (including exams)
    Period 112 September12 September5 September - 28 October
    Period 23 October7 November31 October - 23 December
    Period 3 (Optional)12 December16 January9 January - 3 February
    Spring 2023 (Semester Two)Deadline to Add New CoursesDeadline to Drop/Remove CoursesInstruction Period (including exams)
    Period 416 January13 February6 February - 31 March
    Period 56 March 10 April3 April - 2 June
    Period 68 May12 June5 June - 30 June

    For more information, please consult the 2022-2023 academic calendar.

  • Academic Timetable, Canvas, and Your VU Dashboard

    The Academic Timetable:

    Fall SemesterPublished in July
    Spring SemesterPublished in December

    Course Registration will take place after the academic timetable has been published. Once you have been registered for courses, you can view these courses in your personal academic timetable by logging in with your VU ID and password at Please note that the timetable is public and can be viewed by anyone, but you can also view your personal course registrations by logging in using the link in the upper righthand corner. 

    Please note that in order to view your courses and exams, you must always first select the "List" tab and then the correct academic year and semester. Otherwise, some of your courses and exams will not appear. It is also possible to manually select and deselect groups or exams in your personal timetable. If you have de-selected the exam or a specific group, this will no longer appear in your timetable. 

    A few helpful notes about "groups":

    • HC and LE stand for the main lecture – you are always required to take this group.
    • TE/01 is the first exam – you must always take this group.
    • TE/02 is the re-take exam - you cannot sign up for re-takes until after your final grades are published, but it's a good idea to keep this date in mind so that you know whether or not you will be present in Amsterdam and thus able to take the exam if needed.
    • TE/02_Extra Time and TE/01_Extra Time refer to extra time for exams. Unless you have requested academic accommodations, you should ignore this. If you requested accommodations, this is when your extra time is scheduled.
    • WG and SG stand for workgroup or seminar group. Not all courses will have one of these groups, but if it’s listed you must enroll in only one group (for example, WG08).
    • Sometimes there are other sections listed such as DX (Digital Exam).  You must always register for one of each section listed except for the re-sit exam (TE/02) – see notes about re-sits above. 
    • It is possible that a course only has one study group and no main lecture. In this case, you must register for the study group.
    • If there is a main lecture listed in the timetable (HC), you must enroll in this group. If there is a study group with multiple sections (SG/04, SG/05 or WG/01, WG/02 etc.), you should only enroll in one of these groups.
    • You should always plan to take the first final exam (TE/01). If there is a digital exam (DX), you must also enroll in this group unless the professor later states otherwise. 

    Some helpful tips about using the timetable:

    • Note whether or not you need to be in a specific workgroup in order to avoid an overlap with another course. 
    • You can easily edit the timetables you have added via the list on the right side of the screen.  You can simply de-select a timetable so that it no longer appears, or you can delete it from your list entirely.
    • You can edit the groups you have selected by clicking the 3 dots which appear when you move your cursor over a course title in the panel on the right side of your screen.
    • If two of your chosen courses have exam times that overlap, this is an overlap. You will need to choose a backup course selection instead. Don’t forget to check your exam times in the timetable.
    • Once you have actually been registered for courses, you can remove all courses and groups you are not registered for from your timetable by clicking the 3 little dots which appear when you hover your cursor over “2022/23” in the panel on the right side of the screen and then clicking “Remove all and restore default timetables.” Then click “Remove All.” 


    Once your professors have added you to each of your registered courses, you can view your course materials using the VU online learning platform, Canvas. Keep in mind that Canvas is managed by your professors and is not a list of course registrations. Your professors must first add you to the course before you will see it in Canvas. 

    Questions about Canvas? You can find a full list of instruction videos and resources for students here.

    VU Dashboard

    Once your final grades have been published, you can find them in your VU Dashboard. Please note that only grades published in your VU Dashboard are final grades (grades published in Canvas are not final grades). All grades at VU Amsterdam are rounded up or down to the nearest decimal. Please see the information provided under Dutch Grading System below.

  • Dutch Grading System

    Dutch grades range from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). The highest grades of 9 and 10 are only rarely awarded. An 8 is considered a high mark while 7's and 6's are more common. Grades from 1 (very poor) to 3 are rare. Grades of 5.5 and higher are passing grades in the Netherlands, but we advise you to confirm what constitutes a passing grade with your home university. 

    It is up to your home university to determine a conversion scale. Grades at VU Amsterdam are always rounded up or down. For example, an 8.3 will be rounded up to an 8.5 and an 8.2 will be rounded down to an 8.0. The exception to this rule is a 5.5, which is always rounded up to a 6.0.

    Please be prepared for the fact that your final grade may be made up of only one final exam. Most courses offer the chance to take a re-sit exam if you fail the first exam, but if you only stay until period 2 in the Fall semester or period 5 in the Spring semester, then the resit exam will likely occur after you have returned home. You must be present in Amsterdam to take the re-sit exam.

    ECTS %Quality AssessmentDutch grade
    10%Excellent/Very good8.0 - 10.0
    25%Good7.5 - 7.9
    30%More than satisfactory7.0 - 7.4
    25%Satisfactory6.5 - 6.9
    10%Sufficient5.5 - 6.4
     Fail0.0 - 5.4

Questions? Please don't hesitate to contact us!

Semester in Amsterdam is a separate programme from the Exchange programme at VU Amsterdam. If you have been nominated by your home university for Exchange and your university is a partner of VU Amsterdam, please contact Are you currently a student of another Dutch university wishing to register for a minor? Please contact the student desk at