University Minor

Laura Ietswaart

Minor: Rhetorics

Study year: 2019-2020

In the first semester of my third year I participated in the Rhetorics Minor. This year, the minor was available for the first time, which made the experience even more special. I chose this minor in order to improve my talking and presentation skills. When studying history, we are often expected to present our research. However, we do not get an efficient explanation on how to do this well. That is why the Rhetorics Minor is a very useful addition to the History bachelor. 

The minor is given in English, although Dutch students can choose to present in Dutch. This year, the group of students was very mixed in studies and nationalities. The teachers come from different parts of the university as well, and they have a lot of knowledge about rhetoric. So, in this minor you will get an abundant mix of theory and practice. During the minor, there will also be visits from specialists who will give masterclasses. For example, we had masterclasses by a speech therapist, actors and a specialist on Shakespeare. 

During the minor you will have three classes, each worth 15 points. During the Secrets of Rherotic class, you will learn the theory and history behind rhetoric, and you will also practice your skills by presenting a lot and performing a TED-talk. In the second block you get to choose between two classes: Politics and Media, and Science Communication. I chose the latter and during this class you will learn the art of presenting your academic research to a wider audience. During the entire semester, you will be busy with the Rhetoric Lab. This class consists of a group project. This project will be an assignment for a client outside the university. My group gave a beginners rhetorics course at a secondary school in Leeuwarden. Others did projects for museums or political parties for example. You are free to do whatever you like, and the teachers have a lot of contacts you can make use of. 

The first year a minor is given is never perfect. As we were the gunny pigs, we gave a lot of feedback. That’s why the second time around the minor will probably be even better, which makes this minor a very good choice! You will gain a lot of knowledge and experience, and you will also get to know your fellow classmates very well due to the many presentations and various dinners and evenings out which are included in the minor. That is why I highly recommend the Rhetorics Minor!

Thom Schuring

Minor: Development Studies

Study year: 2018-2019

The minor I followed is called ‘development studies’ and is a minor consisting of two times three courses (with elective options) that can be followed separately or combined. The courses range from lectures on the impact of environment on development including things like the carbon and water footprint till ‘Ethnicity, culture and politics’ where you have a change to attend lectures with voluntary seminars where you can discuss the topics. The second half of the minor is more demanding because you will need to write a (short) essay and present in English. If you are decent in speaking English and the first two years of your bachelor history weren’t that big of a deal this minor won’t be a problem for you. While this minor might not be the best way to a successful career, I found the topics that are thought very interesting and would recommend this minor to everybody that’s interested in the environment and why some regions are rich, and others are poor.

Elvira Ambrosius

Minor: Philosophy

Study year: 2018-2019

During the first semester of the academic year 2018/2019, I was enrolled in the University Minor Philosophy. I have been fascinated with philosophy since high school. But truth to be told, it sounded very appealing to me to not be focused on history for half a year. Eventually you could say that I had a ‘love-hate relationship’ with this minor.

First of all, I loved being busy with philosophy again: I had enough of collecting facts and most of all the objective approach with history. During the minor Philosophy you come in touch with a large number of philosophers and their ideas, you are sort of ‘forced’ to think on your own. The material is processed on high speed in eight weeks (one week longer than the history period). This results in the fact you have a short period time where you will receive a lot of information.

You get to experience some difficult theories (especially during the courses of History of Philosophurses of History of Philosophy) where you read the original transcripts of the philosophers. Courses such as Logic and Philosophy of Science are less focused on the transcripts and tend to be more beta sciences. I was really scared for the finals of the minor: there were three in one week! In the end the finals were not too bad, and the results were higher, in my case, than at history.

In contrast of the minor has no appealing setting. The switch from the history seminars during the afternoon to evening seminars of philosophy was hard to adjust to. This minor only has lectures: a full lecture hall (which became emptier after each lecture…) with just a teacher who was speaking, is not the best way to ‘philosophize’.

Overall it is a hard minor that you can only endure if you truly find philosophy interesting (it has a lot more deepening than theory courses at history). So if you can’t get enough of Marx, and also consider Plato to be a fun guy, you will most likely have great evenings during the philosophy lectures.

Reinder Klinkhamer

Minor: Philosophy

Study year: 2018-2019

My first semester this year was completely dominated by philosophy, you guessed it, I chose the Philosophy minor. For me this choice was predominately based on the fact that this minor, combined with 30 more points of philosophy courses, will earn you a second bachelor’s degree.

Considering the fact that when I am writing this, I will just have finished my minor, I will not elaborate on the possibility of a second bachelor’s degree. Instead, I will write down what I learned about the Philosophy minor, starting with the fact that it is heavier than expected. As history students we are used to a system that divides a block into seven weeks of lectures and three weeks of exams. For the Philosophy minor however, things are completely different, and not for the better. Each block here consists of nine weeks of lectures and just one week to complete all three exams. This schedule, combined with the fact that for each course you will have to study substantial amounts of material, makes that the minor philosophy is far heavier than I, at first, expected.

But a lot of stress is not the only thing you will get from this minor, already during the first course of Theory III, after finishing my minor, a lot of the material discussed seemed familiar. During the Philosophy minor, you will learn the basis of western philosophy, all about argumentation and logic and to reflect critically on your own science. All of this will be very useful for the rest of your history studies, writing history and conducting research in particular.

In short, the Philosophy minor is a very heavy program. It will, however, contribute to your understanding of philosophy, history and of doing research in general. To end on a positive note, I have to add that if you are willing to take on the stress, to be present at all lectures and to study the material hard enough your results will be surprisingly good. 

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