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Pandemic (EN)

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How does the coronavirus pandemic fit into the big picture?

The COVID-19 crisis shows us that plagues are clearly not ‘something from the past', and that infectious disease outbreaks continue to form a global threat. How did the world react to previous pandemics and which lessons can be learned for the future?

This highly interdisciplinary course tries to answer these questions by bringing together and connecting insights from a wide range of disciplines, from medicine to mathematics, evolutionary biology, various social and behavioural
sciences, and more.

Each week you will be provided two videos that have been recorded by experts especially for this course: one that discusses our understanding of an aspect of the current coronavirus pandemic, and one that places that understanding in a broad historical or futuristic perspective. Based on the videos, you will work in online groups on questions for these experts, which they will answers during a weekly live Q&A session.  One evening we will mimic a pandemic response team.


Ms. Mariska Leeflang

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Summarise what we know about the coronavirus pandemic on scales ranging from the cellular to the global level;
  • Summarise what we know about the history of pandemics and their effects on scales ranging from the cellular to the global level;
  • Critically examine the evidence these ideas are based on;
  • Creatively connect ideas about the coronavirus, viruses in general and their effects across a number of spatial and temporal scales;
  • Reflect on how the current coronavirus pandemic fits into the big picture;
  • Reflect on what this means for the future.

Teaching format

  • Seminar
  • Self-study
  • Work independently on project/ thesis
  • Guidance / feedback moment
  • Serious game

Please note: This course is taught exclusively online.


  • Questions document (30%)
  • Draft assignment (20%)
  • Final assignment (50%)

Entry requirements

Open to second-year and third-year Bachelor’s students.

Master’ students can also participate. After registering on the course code in SIS (see below), they will be registered on another course code on which the grades will be processed. The course will be made more challenging for Master’s students.

Study material

The online syllabus includes a variety of videos and reading.


You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Number of participants



UvA-students can register from 7 June 2021 (look for code 5512PAND6Y in SIS) until one week prior to the start of the course. If you have any trouble while registering, please contact us at keuzeonderwijs-iis@uva.nl.

Other interested parties, such as contract students or students from other institutions, can register from 7 June 2021 until one week prior to the start of the course by completing the registration form.


Since this course is taught exclusively online, the lower fee applies, which can be found on the website.

SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes, and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website.

Facts & Figures
Mode Short-term, open uva courses
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in September