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The UvA Create a Course Challenge

Do you have a great idea for a new course? Join the UvA Create a Course Challenge! We challenge you to submit an idea for a course and to develop it together with the curriculum experts of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS). Who knows – next year, you may get to work as a student assistant in your own course!

Think along with us about the education at the UvA

The IIS challenges all UvA students to help think about how teaching should be organised, what courses should be taught, the kinds of methods that should be used and the roles students and lecturers should play. The UvA Create a Course Challenge is calling for students to explore uncharted terrain and to think about ways to make education fun, challenging and meaningful. The winning course will be launched in September the following year.

With this challenge, the IIS wants to give students a say in the way education is organised at the institute and within the university. This is your chance to make your vision on education a reality.


Students without borders

Crossing boundaries is what this challenge is all about: not just between students and lecturers and between faculties and disciplines, but also between academia and society.

  • How does it work?

    The UvA Create a Course Challenge consists of four rounds. In the final round, the winner is chosen by a jury. The IIS and the winner will work together to develop the course. The Challenge is open to all UvA students, Bachelor’s and Master’s alike.

    Round 1: Submit your idea

    Deadline: 8 October 2021
    Submit the first draft of an idea for your course by filling in the form below. Or take a picture of your beer coaster if you've written it down and email it to Be creative in both content and form!

    Round 2: Develop your idea

    Deadline: 2 November 2021 9 AM (CET)

    As soon as we receive your idea through one of the channels above, we’ll send you a form you can use to further develop your idea. Which teaching methods will be used in your course? What will the students learn? Which lecturers will be involved? What study material will the students use, and how will they be assessed?

    Round 3: Nominate your favourite idea

    Between 9 and 17 November 2021
    All UvA students and staff may vote once on their favourite course idea. The five ideas with the most votes will continue in the challenge and will go to round 4. 

    Round 4: Pitch your idea to a jury

    Thursday 25 November 2021 5 - 7 PM (CET)
    During the grand finale at the UvA Roeterseiland campus, the jury decides which idea will be rewarded with the realisation of the course. 

    The members of the jury are prof. Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus of the UvA, and Lucy Wenting, the academic director of the IIS. The student jury member is Manish Jhinkoe-Rai, chairman of the Central Student Council of the UvA.

  • Conditions

    When developing your idea, keep in mind the following requirements and guidelines.


    • The course must be suited for second and third-year UvA Bachelor’s students
    • The course must be designed for a minimum of 20 participants
    • Number of credits: 6 (ECTS)
    • The course may be either in English or in Dutch
    • The course must be interdisciplinary in nature.

    Your course will be assessed on the following criteria:

    • Interdisciplinarity
    • Societal relevance: the course contributes to the knowledge and skills that are necessary to make a contribution to the complex challenges our society is faced with.
    • Originality: the course is innovative.
    • Innovative teaching methods: think outside the box of lectures and tutorials.
    • Lecturers: think about which lecturers you want to be involved in your course. Keep in mind that the course should be interdisciplinary in nature, which means the lecturers must have different academic backgrounds.
    • Assessment format: learning objectives and the way these can be assessed.
  • The finalists of 2020

    Ableism in Amsterdam: other-abled citizens, urban design and policies  

    By: Salma Belmoussa, master student Urban Sociology 

    Did you ever think about how the city is designed with a specific user in mind? How the traffic light buttons are positioned at an average height? How the public transportation system is attuned to its many users? What if you and your bodily characteristics are not the baseline (anymore) for all the urban design you daily encounter in a city? What if you are other-abled (i.e. have a mobility impairment) and the current networks, designs and systems are not (independently) usable for you? Does this mean you are less of a citizen than your fellow citizens? As a future policy maker or (academic) researcher, you will discover how many domains of the city are intertwined in enabling or disabling a citizen with a physical disability in everyday life. You will dissect the quest for accessible cities, forces that enable or disable this process, and come up with solutions to improve urban accessibility. You will learn what an accessible city is, how an (in)accessible city influences the daily life of an other-abled body, and how policy and the reality do or do not coincide. 

    (Anti-)Racism – An Interdisciplinary Approach 

    By: Paulina von Hardenberg and Carolin Lubosch, bachelor students Psychology 

    The aim of the course is to teach students about the historical background of current debates, about societal developments and the corresponding research in an academic surrounding. Here, the goal is not to simply “educate about what has been going on for centuries”, but to approach this topic from an interdisciplinary and scientific point of view, which goes beyond googling it. Furthermore, students will be encouraged to (critically) reflect on their own behavior and thoughts by creating a journal about their own experiences. We would like to invite teachers from different disciplines to speak about topics such as history, psychology, education, politics, and many more. In addition, there will be working groups in which topics such as communication, empathy and thinking about identity will be discussed. Racism is a sensitive and complex topic, which is why it will be very important in this course that a trusted environment is created, and that everyone feels safe to speak and make mistakes. 

    Communication in Times of Crisis 

    By: Emilia Berenyi, master student Political Science (International Relations) 

    This course critically analyses the relevant actors’ (e.g. the media, politicians, NGOs, corporate business-owners, etc.) communication on the contemporary global crises of climate change, global warming, terrorism and pandemics. This course aims to engage students with critical thinking through ongoing examples in the world. By the end of the course, students should be able to identify, analyse and critically assess elements of populism, pessimism, optimism, conservativism, liberalism, scapegoating and protection in the communication of biased media, politicians, corporate non-state actors, international organizations, influencers and NGOs. As a result, students will be able to overcome the contemporary issue of ‘alternative facts and one-sided information, as in the era of the internet, it is easy to follow and listen to voices and perspectives we are comfortable with, ignoring the questions and criticism. Students will be able to critically analyse speeches, statements, news, reports and they will do so by looking for elements of bias, unsupported fictive data, scapegoating, prejudice and political party-positions in their discourse analysis. 

    Digital Warfare: The future of conflict and order in the twenty-first century  (Winner 2020)

    By: Thijs Rebel, master student Middle Eastern Studies and Matthijs de Gooijer, master student Finance

    The Internet has become more important than ever. Digital communication is deeply woven into our society, ranging from the financial sector to the operations of our healthcare system. Increasing dependence on its functioning, however, comes with vulnerability. Even the smallest failures have an enormous impact on the economic, political and social stability of our world. This is why numerous countries have started to develop a military response to possible cyber-attacks. Instead of workouts in the mud, soldiers of tomorrow are trained to fight in the depths of cyberspace. This course is about the future of digital warfare and will consider the following questions: How do cyber-attacks work? What are the psychological effects of having an invisible enemy? And, what are the consequences of the lack of a comprehensive legal framework for digital warfare?

    Sissies, Dykes, and Leather: A Queer History of Amsterdam (1950–2020) 

    By: Diego Galdo, bachelor student Sociology 

    This course examines the past, present, and future(s) of queer cultures in Amsterdam between 1950 and 2020. Our search starts with queers in the Red Light District in the fifties, moves into the sexual revolution in the sixties, examines the leather and disco scenes in the seventies, mourns the AIDS crisis in the eighties, and hops on board of the touristified boats in the Amsterdam Pride in the 21st century. We visit De Odeon Kelder – the most renowned gay venue in the world before Stonewall – and Café t’Mandje – one of the longest-running queer bars in the world – among other iconic establishments. We scrutinize the pleasures and desires of post-war “nicht” (sissies) and “potten” (dykes) over sailors and soldiers. The COVID-19 crisis and the closure of all queer nightlife conclude the course. Will queer venues survive another pandemic or will alternative, digital spaces fulfill their role?