Education at ESSB

For outsiders, the study system at ESSB might appear unfamiliar. The education system of any university is unique in its own way, but once you get to study here, you will get used to it in no-time. Nevertheless, it is good to know what you are up to in advance.

Block system

The academic year runs from the first week of September until the end of July. This includes the re-sit period. Lectures are held throughout the whole period with the exception of a two weeks' Christmas holiday.

The academic year of Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences is divided into eight blocks. Each block is intensively devoted to one course and lasts approximately five weeks. Exchange students spending the months of September until December at our faculty will usually take part in the first three blocks.

As an exception to this, block 1 and 2 are mostly connected. In this period, third year Dutch students choose their minor. Each minor is a cluster of courses related to a certain topic and equals 15 ECTS. The courses within the minor are interrelated and do not overlap in schedule. 


The workload of courses is indicated by the number of credits. The European Credit Transfer System was implemented throughout Europe in order to provide a common framework of reference.1 EC is the equivalent of 28 hours and includes lectures, reading, preparation for exams, independent study and the writing of papers. As a result, an academic year consists of 60 EC.

The fulltime workload during the exchange programme is 30 EC per semester (around 7 EC per block), which equals 840 student working hours. Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences does not require a minimum or maximum of EC, but advises students to check their home university’s requirements. Usually, students participating in ERASMUS+ Programme are required to take 30 EC in order to receive the Erasmus scholarship.

Teaching / Learning format

At Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences courses are taught in different formats. The departments of Pedagogy, Psychology and Sociology use the Problem Based Learning system. This means that students actively participate in tutorials consisting up to 15 students. During class, students have an active role and are to a large degree responsible for their learning process. During the week, they prepare for the next tutorial with the learning goals they set during the previous tutorial.

Work is done in small groups or in private study. Learn more about the Problem Based Learning system.


Exams are scheduled at the end of each block. The assessment of a student’s progress and performance differs per course. There is usually a written exam, while a presentation and class participation might also part of the grade. At the beginning of the course, the rules of assessment will be explained.

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