Academic Core

The Academic Core of the AUC programme is designed to ensure that you develop strong academic skills in a number of essential areas, and to prepare you for your choice of theme and major. You take Academic Core courses across all three years of your programme, ensuring an ongoing development of your skills.

Big Questions

A special feature of the Academic Core are the Big Questions courses: there are six courses offered, from which you choose a minimum of one in your first year. You can choose from Big Data, Big Books, Big Books World Literature, Big Questions in Future Society, Big Questions in Science and Big History. These courses approach big questions in science and society from a variety of different and challenging perspectives, and the aim is to stimulate debate from day one of your programme. You are encouraged to reflect on your own position with respect to these big questions, and how you can engage with them on a personal level. They also help to inspire and prepare you for your choice of theme and major.

Logic, Information Flow and Argumentation

Scientific reasoning is an essential skill when debating ‘big questions' and it is the focus of this course,  during which you analyse and discuss patterns of reasoning and the validity of reasoning and information flow in a variety of contexts. This course develops analytical skills which will be of use to all AUC students, whatever their major, making this is a mandatory course in the first year of studies.

Academic Writing Skills and Advanced Research Writing

You are expected to enter AUC with good written and spoken English, but specific training is planned early in the Academic Core in order to help you with understanding and writing texts at an academic level, giving presentations and participating in academic debates. Later in your programme you follow a more advanced course that will help you prepare for your capstone project (Bachelor thesis). All AUC students (including native English speakers) are expected to take both courses. A Writing Centre has also been set up for all AUC students to help with academic writing across the curriculum (Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences majors).

Foreign languages

In today's globalising world, language skills are essential. You are, therefore, expected to reach a certain level of competence in a foreign language during your studies at AUC (other than English and your native language). The current options include courses in Dutch, French, German Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin) and Arabic. 


You are expected to enter AUC with good skills in maths (up to examination level at secondary school, with a good grade) but, depending on the more advanced courses that you want to include in your individual study programme, you will take up to two maths courses as part of your Academic Core. These courses cover subjects such as research methods and statistics, calculus and linear algebra. Please be aware that the specific courses and requirements regarding mathematics vary per major. 

The Global Identity Experience

AUC is an international institution, located in a cosmopolitan city, and prepares its graduates for a globalised world. This course is designed to open your eyes to issues arising in an international, multicultural context, and to equip you with intercultural (communication) skills. Part of the course will involve a group research project in the city of Amsterdam.

Beyond the basics of the Academic Core

Other interesting optional courses in the Academic Core first year curriculum include History of Philosophy and Performing Arts. In the second year, options include courses covering Gastronomy, the Dutch Golden Age and Global Leadership. Third year options include Advanced Creative Writing, Moral Dilemmas in Medical Practice, Existentialism in Philosophy and Literature, Modern Philosophical Texts, Ancient Philosophical Texts and Legal and Social Philosophy, in addition to more advanced research methods classes. All these courses are cross-listed  for one or more majors.

Published by  Amsterdam University College

3 November 2017