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Leiden Observatory

Teaching

This page contains all relevant information for lecturers teaching in the Astronomy bachelor's and/or master's curriculum at Leiden University.

Organisation and contacts

Please find below more information and contact information of departments and committees relevant to the Astronomy education programme. If you can't find what you are looking for, always contact the Astronomy programme coordinator at eduster@strw.leidenuniv.nl.

The education administration for the Astronomy bachelor's and master's programme is managed by the Education Office Astronomy. Click here for more information and contact details.

The Astronomy education programme is supported by the Education Committee, Board of Examiners, Board of Admissions and Public Relations Committee, including Contact.VWO. Click here for more information, current memberships and contact details.

The Leiden Observatory staff has monthly lunch meetings. Several times a year one of these meetings is devoted to teaching matters. In addition, the Education Office Astronomy organises a meeting with all the teaching staff twice a year, chaired by the Director of Studies. This way, we keep all teaching staff members fully informed on and involved in developments in the teaching program, and generate feedback by the staff on these issues to the Director of Studies and the Astronomy programme coordinator.

Registration of grades, study results,  exam procedures, binding study advice (BSA) and requesting diplomas is managed by the Science Student Administration (previously known as Graduate School Office and Educatief Centrum). Click here for more information and contact details.

To guarantee the quality of education in the Astronomy programme, the University Teaching Qualification (Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs, BKO) is compulsory for all lecturers, university lecturers (UD), senior university lecturers (UHD) and professors. Click here for more information, training programmes, schedules and contact persons.

All information relevant for current students can be found on the Leiden University student websites:

Click here for instructions on using the student website. If you can't find what you are looking for on this website, please contact the Coordinator PR & Education at pr-education@strw.leidenuniv.nl.

All information for prospective students can be found on the Leiden University recruitment websites:

The contact person for student recruitment activities and PR-materials is the Coordinator PR & Education, who can be reached at pr-education@strw.leidenuniv.nl.

Arranging internships abroad and requesting funds for studying abroad is managed by the International Office of the Faculty of Science. More information and contact details can be found through the links below.

If you can't find what you are looking for, please contact the Astronomy study advisor at studyadvisor@strw.leidenuniv.nl.

Preparing your course

Teaching your course in the Astronomy curriculum requires proper preparation. Please find below the platforms and guidelines we have in place for sharing course information and documents with students. Make sure to start well in advance with preparations for teaching your course.

The e-Prospectus contains an online overview of studies and subjects that can be followed at Leiden University. The e-Prospectus is a formal and legally binding appendix of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER) and includes all Astronomy bachelor's and master's programmes and courses:

If you can't find what you are looking for in the e-Prospectus, please contact the Coordinator PR & Education at pr-education@strw.leidenuniv.nl.

Every year around May-June, the Astronomy PR coordinator will send a request to all teachers to check if your course description in the e-Prospectus is up to date for the upcoming academic year. Please respond to this request before the end of July. Always double-check the description of your course before the start of the academic year.

Course descriptions are subject to a fixed template. Administrative elements (timetables, registration information and contact information) are taken care of by the Education Office Astronomy. Other elements need your input as a teacher. These include the admission requirements, course description, course objectives, soft skills, mode of instruction, assessment methods and reading list. Please think about these in advance. Moreover, the course objectives need to match your exam questions and should be set up according to Bloom's taxonomy. Please use the following resources:

Examples of good course descriptions:

If you have any questions about (setting up) the description for your course in the e-Prospectus, please contact the Coordinator PR & Education at pr-education@strw.leidenuniv.nl.

Blackboard is the online learning environment used at Leiden University. It is used to improve and manage student learning and as a communication platform between student and instructor. Blackboard is the standard online learning tool for displaying course material, for secure registration of grades for homework assignments and for communication with students in line with privacy guidelines. As a teacher, you are highly encouraged to set up an online learning environment for your course in the Astronomy curriculum.

1. Request your course in Blackboard

First, make sure that your course is available in Blackboard. To do so, send an email to the Astronomy programme coordinator requesting a new course in Blackboard. In your e-mail, include the complete course name and the full names of all course instructors, including teaching assistants or second instructors.

2. Getting access to Blackboard

Next, get access to Blackboard to start setting up the contents of your online course environment.

3. Activate your course in Blackboard

Your course is either a newly introduced course or an existing course which has been copied from the previous year. In both cases, please ensure that your documents are up to date before you set it to the availability mode for students to access. In the left menu in Blackboard, go to control panel > customization > properties > set availability (working screen) on yes > submit.

Teaching your course

After setting up your academic course according to all guidelines, teaching it to academic students is the next step. Whether you are just starting as a junior staff member or an experienced teacher, we are here to support you and offer resources. Please find below an overview of available training and practical information you need to know when teaching an Astronomy course.

University Teaching Qualification (Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs, BKO)

To guarantee the quality of education in the Astronomy programme, the University Teaching Qualification (Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs, BKO) is compulsory for all lecturers, university lecturers (UD), senior university lecturers (UHD) and professors. Click here for more information, training programmes, schedules and contact persons.

Teacher training at Leiden University

The Higher Education Development department of Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching (ICLON) is the education expertise centre of Leiden University. They offer various training programmes for Leiden University staff members, ranging from one-hour sessions to courses over multiple days, as well as individual coaching sessions. These are not limited to the UTQ/BKO modules mentioned above, but also include the following courses:

  • How to give a lecture
  • Blended learning
  • Supervising thesis students

Click here for an overview of all available training and coaching options for higher education teaching at ICLON.

Additional resources

Course and examination schedules for the Astronomy programmes are prepared around March-April each year. In this period, you will receive an email from the programme coordinator with the request to provide your preferences, number of sessions, changes or improvements concerning the planning of your course. The latest version of the schedules are always published on the Astronomy student websites:

Course locations are scheduled at the faculty level. Astronomy courses are generally located in classrooms at the Science Campus, including the Huygens Laboratory, Gorlaeus Lecture HallSnellius Building and Van Steenis Building, but can also include more distant locations such as the Lipsius Building and Kamerligh Onnes Building in the center of Leiden.

Locations for lectures, practical classes and examinations are communicated through the course and examination schedules. Always make sure you know where your course is located. If you find a location you don't know yet, make sure to visit the room in advance to get acquainted with the room and its equipment.

Location changes

If a location for your lecture, practical class or examination is rescheduled, you will be contacted by the programme coordinator or faculty planner. Vice versa, if you want to reschedule or cancel a session, always inform the programme coordinator, who will administrate the change and will help you find an alternative room or cancel out the reservation.

The availability of audiovisual equipment varies per classroom. Make sure to visit the room scheduled for your course well in advance to get familiar with the equipment.

  • Learn about audiovisual equipment with our free tutorials for the De Sitterzaal and other classrooms.
  • Wireless microphones for classrooms in the Huygens Laboratory can be picked up at the reception.
  • Every classroom has a phone installed on the lecture desk to contact the AV services if needed.

Concluding your course

All courses in the Astronomy curriculum are concluded with an examination of some type, followed by registration of grades and evaluation of the course. Please find below the procedures and tips for setting up exams and grading for your course.

Written exams

Oral exams

Research projects

See below for details on examination and grading of research projects in the Astronomy curriculum.

Download guide with examination tips

Tips for Tests (in English)

Download handleiding voor toetsen

Tips bij Toetsen (Nederlands)

General instructions

  • Grading is by a number between 1 and 10. Half integers are also permitted with the exception of 5,5!
  • Grading a research project has to be done with a special form: see Research projects.
  • Students are instructed to enrol for all exams, resits and practicals and to cancel their enrolment timely (click here for more information).
  • One week before the exam date you will receive an e-mail with the list of students who have enrolled for your exam from the grade administration officer (cijfersSTRW@science.leidenuniv.nl).
  • Enter the exam grades on the list. If a student has taken the exam but is not on the list, please add the student to the list. If a student is on the list but has not taken the exam, leave the grade field open.
  • Some courses have 'open' exam dates, which means that the exam is not scheduled. Please request a list of enrolled students via cijfersSTRW@science.leidenuniv.nl.

Grade communication to students

  • As an instructor or examiner, you have 15 working days after the date of examination to review the exam and publish the results in a written document.
  • When publishing the grade list on your website, on Blackboard or through e-mail, make sure to remove the column with student names for privacy reasons.

Grade communication to the Education Office Astronomy

Written exam

Enter the grades, sign the list and send it to cijfersSTRW@science.leidenuniv.nl and eduassist@strw.leidenuniv.nl for registration in uSis. Hand in the original signed grading form at the Education Office Astronomy in room 564 of the Oort Building.

Oral exam

Enter the grade on the Astronomy oral examination form, sign the form and send it to cijfersSTRW@science.leidenuniv.nl and eduassist@strw.leidenuniv.nl. Hand in the original signed grading form at the Education Office Astronomy in room 564 of the Oort Building.

Evaluation forms

  • Towards the end of your course, you will receive a set of evaluation forms. For evaluation of the research projects, see the section Research Projects below.
  • The evaluation forms need to be hand out after the exam or, if there is no exam, during the last class.
  • Always use the evaluation forms that have been provided to you. If you have insufficient evaluation forms, please make copies of the form you have.
  • The student member of the Astronomy Education Committee is responsible for submitting the forms to the Education Office Astronomy in room 564 of the Oort Building. The student member will contact you in advance about the practical procedures.
  • Within a few weeks, you will receive an electronic report of the evaluation of your course from ICLON. You will also receive a copy of all the filled out evaluation forms by e-mail.
  • You are requested to briefly respond to the results of the evaluation. Please be brief and factual. Return your comments within a week to the Education Office Astronomy support officer and to the Director of Studies.

Semester response system

  • Four times a year, an oral evaluation of all Astronomy courses takes place.
  • Evaluation sessions are open and plenary and embedded in the course schedules of students.
  • The evaluation sessions are led by the chair of the Astronomy Education Committee, with all teaching staff involved present. Feedback on lectures is provided by the student members of the Education Committee, as well as by other students.
  • First, all current lecture series are evaluated approximately four weeks after the start of a semester. This early evaluation enables timely and effective adjustments, should these be necessary.
  • A second evaluation takes place after the end of each semester, and may lead to recommendations for future improvements.

Bachelor Research Project

Each year starting in February, a cohort of bachelor students will do their Bachelor Research project (BRP) to conclude their Astronomy bachelor's programme. Students following a double bachelor's programme in Astronomy & Physics or Astronomy & Mathematics are subject to different guidelines. Click here for an overview of all details and procedures communicated to students. Please find below all you need to know about the Bachelor Research Project as a supervisor.

  • In September of each year, the Bachelor Research Project coordinator (a Leiden Observatory staff member) will ask each staff member to provide at least one project for bachelor students to work on.
  • Students will typically work in pairs, from the beginning of February to the end of June. They should be able to spend at least half of their time on the project.
  • Students doing a double bachelor's programme in Astronomy & Physics have to choose between an Astronomy or Physics project and supervision.
  • Regular meetings with the whole cohort will be organised by the BRP coordinator and appointed assistants to monitor progress, help with practical items, and to provide advice. However, direct supervision of the research is expected from the supervisor. Many postdocs have done an excellent job here in the past.
  • Students MUST have permission from the Astronomy study advisor to start with their  Bachelor Research Project. Usually this means that the practicals are finished and most courses (except for 1-2) have been completed before starting the project in February.
  • In order to start with their BRP, students must complete and hand in the Bachelor Research Project Registration Form (available on the student's website). When supervising a project, the student will ask you to sign the form as well.
  • Students are ONLY allowed to start with the project after you have received a fully signed registration form. Upon receipt of the Bachelor Research Project Registration Form, all those involved will receive a confirmation from the Astronomy study advisor.

Master Research Project

Each Astronomy master's student carries out at least one research project during the two year Astronomy master's programme. The First Research Project (30 EC) is of a preparatory nature, resulting in a thesis. This project is done by all students in the research-oriented Astronomy master's specialisations (Research, Cosmology, Data Science and Instrumentation). The Master's Research Project (30 EC) is done by all Astronomy master's students and results in the formal Astronomy master's thesis. In addition, the Master's Research Project will be presented in a formal colloquium.

Click here for an overview of all details and procedures communicated to students. Please find below all you need to know about the Master Research Projects as a supervisor.

  • All projects are carried out under close supervision by a member of the scientific staff.
  • The First Research Project and the Master's Research Project must be of a different nature and must be supervised by different staff members.
  • The Master's Research Project can be started only after the First Research Project is completed.
  • To monitor the progression of Astronomy research projects, student will receive periodic emails at so-called milestones. These milestone notifications occur at the start of the project and at 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the allotted duration of the project. The emails contain information about the remaining time until the end date (at 100%).
  • Student and supervisor should monitor progress with this schedule in mind. Regular meetings with your student are important, but make sure you meet up at each notification date. That way, you’ll be in time to notice and any problems and prevent delay.
  • Report problems or delays to the Astronomy study advisor, who will also monitor progress.
  • If the project has not been completed by the final date (100%), a grade will be given based on the available material.
  • All Astronomy Master's Research Projects are concluded with a public presentation, referred to as Student Colloquium.
  •  This presentation will be graded by the Student Colloquium coordinator for presentation skills and not for the scientific content or the way the research was conducted, as these elements are assessed in the Master's Research Project.
  • Each year, three sessions will be planned in the form of an Astronomy master's colloquium conference.
  • Students need to make their own reservation using the online Astronomy Student Colloquium registration form.
  • Students need to practice their talk before they present their colloquium. Make sure to support your student in doing so.
  • The grade will be given by the Student Colloquium coordinator (a Leiden Observatory staff member) and will be sent to you as the supervisor of Master's Research Project.
  • All Astronomy master's research projects conclude with a thesis and the Master's Research Project concludes with an additional colloquium.
  • The end date of each research project is fixed.
  • The supervisor needs to find a second reader for the thesis who is not directly connected to the same research project. Both the supervisor(s) and the second reader have to be approved staff members of Leiden Observatory with examination authority. Click here for the list of approved staff members for 2018-2019.
  • The student needs to hand in the final thesis by the end date.
  • A digital copy of the final thesis needs to be sent to the Astronomy programme coordinator at eduster@strw.leidenuniv.nl for a plagiarism check. A paper copy needs to be handed in at the Education Office Astronomy in room 564 of the Oort Building.
  • The grade for the project must be given within 15 working days from the end date. Please note that for graduates other deadlines are set.
  • For assessment and grading, use the Master Research Project Grading Form (available at the student's website).
  • The student needs to hand in the Master Research Project Grading Form and a paper copy of the final thesis to the Astronomy programme coordinator in room 564 of the Oort Building.
  • The Master Research Project is evaluated using the online form available at the student's website.

Graduation

The Astronomy programme is set up  to result in an academic bachelor's or master's diploma. For graduation to take place, many arrangements need to be made. Most of this is the responsibility of the student, but as a supervisor of the student's final research project you also have a role to play. Please find below all information relevant to you as a supervisor and teaching staff member of Leiden Observatory.

General

  • The full procedure for the Astronomy bachelor's graduation can be found on the student's website.
  • Please note that there are two relevant dates around graduation: the certification date and the ceremony date:
    • Certification date: the formal exam date, which is stated on the bachelor's certificate that will be handed out during the graduation ceremony.
    • Ceremony date: a fixed date that will take place once a year, usually on the last Friday of August. In 2018, the Astronomy bachelor's ceremony date is 31 August 2018.
  • The Astronomy bachelor's graduation ceremony takes places in the Huygens Laboratory.
  • The ceremony  is led by the chair of the Astronomy Board of Examiners.
  • All graduates and their guests are invited to join the full ceremony.
  • The ceremony starts with an informal part, in which the supervisors of the Bachelor Research Project have role (see next section for guidelines). The formal part is led by the chair of the Board of Examiners.
  • The graduation ceremony will be concluded with drinks for all Astronomy and Physics bachelor graduates, their guests and supervisors.

Guidelines for supervisors

Supervisors of the Bachelor Research Projects are expected to speak a few words about their students. You may talk about:

  • The content and results of the research performed by the student
  • Your impression of the research skills of the student
  • Your impression of the social, communication or teamworking skills of your student
  • Anecdotes (interesting or amusing incidents)

If you are not available to join the ceremony, please send a written speech for your student to the Astronomy programme coordinator at eduster@strw.leidenuniv.nl well in advance of the ceremony.

Formal obligations

In the formal part of the ceremony, the Astronomy bachelor's diploma will be handed over to the student accompanied by a small gift from the Education Office Astronomy. All paperwork has been signed beforehand, except for the exam form, which will be signed at the ceremony by the chair of the Board of Examiners and the student. The exam form is the proof of handing over the diploma from the Board of Examiners to the student. Signed exam forms need to be returned to the Astronomy programme coordinator in room 564 of the Oort Building.

General information

  • The full procedure for the Astronomy master's graduation can be found on the student's website.
  • Please note that there are two relevant dates around graduation: the certification date and the ceremony date:
  • The Astronomy master's graduation ceremony takes places in the Faculty of Science room of the Academy Building in the center of Leiden.
  • The ceremony  is led by the chair of the graduation committee, arranged by the student according to the procedure (Step 2). Guidelines for graduation committee members are described below.
  • Graduates and their guests are invited to join the ceremony.
  • The chair of the graduation committee will open the ceremony. Next, the candidate will give a short presentation, followed by questions from the audience. The ceremony will be concluded with the formal obligations of signing and handing over the Astronomy master's diploma.

Guidelines for graduation committee members

  1. The chair of the graduation committee has the following tasks:
    • Receive all documentation in advance and verify that all the paperwork is present.
    • Invite the candidate and associated guests into the Faculty of Science room of the Academy Building.
    • Opening the ceremony and explaining the procedure: the candidate will give a short presentation, followed by an invitation for questions from the audience. The ceremony is concluded by the formal obligation of signing and handing over the diploma.
  2. The candidate gives a short presentation (about 5-7 minutes) about his or her research project. For this, the candidate has to bring an own laptop.
     
  3. Following the presentation, the chair of the graduation committee invites the audience to ask questions. Questions from the graduation committee are also allowed, but only if there is still time left after questions from the audience. The presentation and questions together should take about 20 minutes.
     
  4. The candidate has now fulfilled the final obligations and the formal part of the ceremony will take plase, as described in the next section.
     
  5. After formalities, one of the committee members will address the candidate with a short speech. Please note that it is not necessary to speak prescribed words as in a PhD ceremony, but of course a certain formality is desired. If you wish to say something more formal, bear in mind that you are 'a formal graduation committee empowered by the Astronomy Board of Examiners'.
     
  6. The chair of the graduation committee closes the ceremony and will direct the audience to leave the room immediately to not delay the sequence of graduations. Congratulations to the graduate can be done outside the room.
     
  7. Astronomy master's graduates may sign their name on the walls of the 14th century room in the Academy Building, called Zweetkamertje (Sweat Room). For further instructions, please send the student to the attendant of the Academy Building.

Formal obligations

In the formal part of the ceremony, the Astronomy master's diploma will be handed over to the student accompanied by a small gift from the Education Office Astronomy. All paperwork has been signed beforehand, except for the exam form, which will be signed at the ceremony by the chair of the graduation committee and the student. The exam form is the proof of handing over the diploma to the student. Signed exam forms need to be returned to the Astronomy programme coordinator in room 564 of the Oort Building.

Quality control

Many procedures and systems are in place to safeguard and maintain the quality of education in the Astronomy programme of Leiden Observatory. Extended evaluation of all our study activities and ongoing professionalization of our teaching staff members are integral parts of our quality system.

All courses in the Astronomy curriculum are evalution afterwards by written evaluation forms. This is part of a central system managed and processed by the Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching (ICLON). In addition, oral semester response sessions are organised by the Astronomy Education Committee four times a year. These sessions allow for timely and effective adjustments during the curriculum and result in recommendations for the future.

Apart from the written and oral course evaluations described above, overall student satisfaction is evaluated annually in the Nationale Studenten Enquête (NSE). The results are discussed in the Astronomy Education Committee and always lead to recommendations.

To guarantee the quality of education in the Astronomy programme, the University Teaching Qualification (Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs, BKO) is compulsory for all teaching staff members of Leiden Observatory, offered by the Higher Education Development department of Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching (ICLON). In addition, various training programmes for Leiden University staff members are available, ranging from one-hour sessions to courses over multiple days, as well as individual coaching sessions.

The Leiden Observatory staff has monthly lunch meetings. Several times a year one of these meetings is devoted to teaching matters. In addition, the Education Office Astronomy organises a meeting with all the teaching staff twice a year, chaired by the Director of Studies. This way, we keep all teaching staff members fully informed on and involved in developments in the teaching program, and generate feedback by the staff on these issues to the Director of Studies and the Astronomy programme coordinator.

Furthermore, our Astronomy teaching staff is present in the evaluation sessions of the semester response system, led by the Astronomy Education Committee.

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