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Honoursmodule: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein

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* course also open for first year students

Albert Einstein


prof.dr. J.A.E.F. van Dongen

Entry requirements

First, second and third year bachelor students participating in an honours programme. 


  • Has acquired understanding of the science and life of Albert Einstein in the context of his time.
  • Can show the ability to display this understanding in written academic English or Dutch.


In this course we will discuss the science and life of Albert Einstein in the context of his time. Discussed will be the major innovations of his science, and his political involvement in the key developments in the societies that he was a member of. We will address his theory of relativity, his contributions to quantum mechanics, as well as his criticism of it, and his ideas about the existence of atoms, in relation to the scientific, philosophical and cultural context of the early 20th century. Addressed will further be his political involvement in the Weimar republic, his pacifism, Zionism and stance on nuclear armament. This will acquaint students in a novel manner with the history of the twentieth century, and introduce them to key issues in history and philosophy of science.

Teaching format

  • Lecture
  • Seminar
  • Work independently on project/thesis
  • Guidance/Feedback moment

Recommended prior knowledge

Knowledge of secondary school science curricula recommended. University level science is not required, but an open mind to the exact sciences is very much required. 


See Datanose

Min/max participants



Sit down exam (tentamen); writing assignment.


Walther Isaacson, Einstein. His Life and Universe, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2007.

Costs roughly 15 euro; otherwise literature that is available in library.


Registration is possible for students participating in an Honours programme via an online registration form which will be made available on December 1, 10 am till December 5, 11 pm on this website. 

Placement will be at random and within two weeks students will hear whether they are placed for a course. 

There is NO guarantee for placement if you register after December 5, so make sure you register on time! 

For questions about registration please email to: Honours-iis@uva.nl 


The teaching assistant will guide the writing assignments in three sessions. He will offer feedback and guide the choice of subject and literature. Writing assignment can be done in Dutch or English.

Facts & Figures
Mode Honours programme
Credits 6 ECTS, 8 weeks
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission Preliminary training necessary
Starts in February