1000 sign-ups a week from all over the world for Leiden's new free online law course

Leiden University is the first Dutch and fourth European university to offer a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Coursera. Since November, about 1000 people from all over the world have signed up each week, and more than 10,000 have now enrolled. This first Leiden MOOC is called The Law of the European Union: An Introduction and will start in May 2013.

Open to everyone

The Coursera platform, which was set up less than a year ago, already offers more than 200 courses at top international universities. Leiden is the first to offer a course in the field of International and European Law. The courses are free and thus make quality education without entry requirements or an entry examination available to all; all you need is an internet connection.

Gaining experience

The University is using this MOOC to gain experience of massive open online education. Leiden University – Campus The Hague and the Law Faculty – wants to find out how:

  • it can use MOOCs to spread knowledge and tackle the big issues of the 21st century

  • this form of online learning can help its own students succeed in their studies.

Active role for Leiden

Prof. Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Rector of Leiden University, comments: ‘Leiden University has identified MOOCs as a rapidly emerging new trend, a catalyst for educational reform, improving quality and sharing our research and teaching with new target groups across the world. Leiden is assuming an active role in the deliberations on what MOOCs mean for higher education in the Netherlands and Europe.’

Leiden recognised the new developments in education at an early stage and signed an agreement with Coursera in 2012. This platform allows Leiden to reach a global audience, which includes target groups that do not usually have access to high-quality education.

Advanced functionality

A MOOC is a free online course in which tens of thousands of people from all over the world can participate simultaneously. The Leiden MOOC ‘The Law of the European Union: An Introduction’ will last five weeks and requires a time investment of five to eight hours a week. Instead of lectures, there will be short video clips of about 10 minutes. Practice questions and case assignments will help participants become familiar with the material, and they will be able to discuss the material with other participants on discussion forums. If they pass the final examination, they will receive a Statement of Accomplishment. Leiden is also investigating new, advanced functionality on the Coursera platform. An example of this is automated peer grading, which allows students to assess each other’s written assignments in a well thought-out, automatic procedure.


Prof. Stefaan Van den Bogaert, Professor of European Law at Leiden University says: ‘If you consider that just under 5000 students study at the Faculty of Law, and that after two months, without any significant publicity, twice as many people have already registered for this online course, you will immediately see the potential of such a MOOC.’

(17 January 2013)

See also

Last Modified: 18-01-2013