Switch to English
Cursus: 201900189
Semester 3: Living under extreme conditions
Cursus informatie
Studiepunten (ECTS)0
Contactpersoondr. I. Nota
VorigeVolgende 5
dr. J.A. Alvarez Chavez
drs. L. Bagur Marques
Docent F.J. Dijksterhuis
Docent M.A. van der Hoef
Docent J.J. Homminga
Inschrijven via OSIRISJa
At the end of semester 3, the student is able to:
  1. On an advanced level, demonstrate academic competencies in the domains of natural science, social science, and mathematics in various contexts.
  2. Demonstrate deepening of academic competencies in domains or fields that relate to your intended academic profile as a new engineer.
  3. Set up and execute empirical research and communicate the results.
  4. Describe the state-of-the-art theories and methods of a self-chosen research field and compare and contrast these with those of another research field.
  5. Demonstrate skill development in domains or fields that relate to your intended academic profile as a new engineer.
The semester goals aim at the development of academic competencies, research skills, and auxiliary professional skills.

Semester goal 1 invites you to develop over the complete range of competencies for a new engineer. It covers all three domains of natural and social science as well as mathematics.

The purpose of this goal is to develop the ability to understand and communicate with experts of all three domains, necessary to enable meaningful contributions to multidisciplinary projects. A necessary requirement for that is to have at least basic knowledge and skills on fields that are representative for each of the domains.

In order to facilitate the achievement of this goal, we have chosen a specific set of courses from each of the domains (more information on the courses is provided later in this document):
  • For the natural sciences: Classics of the natural sciences
  • For the social sciences: Research methodology
  • For mathematics: Probability theory and statistics
Deviating from the courses in this list is possible, and you could even think of taking completely different educational activities to reach this goal, but you have to provide a good motivation for that in your PDP, explaining why your approach also fulfills the purpose of this semester goal as stated above.

Semester goal 2 is related to your intended academic profile as a new engineer. The purpose is to narrow down your current, possibly still very broad, idea to where you want to go. As you recognize, key to achieving this goal is a description of your intended profile.
A common way to approach this goal is to select a number of electives. As your future foci will start to be more personal and specific, it is only rarely possible to develop ATLAS electives for these and most electives thus lay outside ATLAS. The electives coordinator and your mentor can help you find suitable electives (see also the provided list with opportunities).
Do not just scratch the surface in a wide range of electives. Explore the depths in a few! Exploring the depths in one area allows you to reach depth in another area quickly (due to analogies, similarities, etc.). You can take up to 27 EC in the semester (domains, electives and project combined); if you want to take on more than 27 EC’s, explain in your PDP why you need more than 27 EC, why you are convinced you can still explore the depths, and how you can manage and distribute the workload over the semester. Since this is your third semester in ATLAS, these elective choices will likely indicate some general academic direction that appeals to you. It is strongly recommended that you discuss your interests with your mentor who can likely help you to narrow down your choices.

Semester goal 3 and 4 invite you to obtain hands-on experience in doing empirical research. You will setup and execute an empirical study and communicate the results on a level that is up to current academic standards. Empirical studies are usually not done in isolation. Rather, they are connected to the current state of the art in a field and are designed using theories and methods that are tailored for the specific field. By studying two different fields, comparing and contrasting the research methods for each of these fields, you will get more acquainted to the art of doing research.
A typical way to approach these two semester goals is by means of the semester project which addresses the research cycle (details will be provided in a separate project syllabus). However, also the domain courses and other educational and extracurricular activities may provide opportunities for you to attain these goals.

Semester goal 5 aims at the development of professional skills other than academic competencies. You can think of design, leadership, management or entrepreneurial skills, improving communication or collaboration abilities, or something else. This goal can be as extensive and personalized as you want.
For this goal, you not only have to describe what you want to develop further, but also how you will do this, and what the level of your achievement will be. Furthermore, you also need to indicate the evidence you will be using in order to convince the assessment committee that you reached this level.

Qualitative and quantitative requirements

In order to pass the semester, students need to demonstrate that they
  1. Meet the semester goals
  2. Pass the quantitative requirement: obtain a minimum of 27 EC
  3. Pass the qualitative requirement, consisting oa.
    • 9 EC for domain course
    • 9 EC for elective courses on a sufficient level
    • 9 EC for the semester project.
  4. Obtain a positive evaluation of the SER
A student can only participate in the assessment if an approved PDP is in place and if a SER has been handed in in time. The EER provides more information about the exact procedures.

Personal development plan, midterm evaluation and self-evaluation report.

Writing a Personal Development Plan (PDP) facilitates you to take a moment of reflection to materialize your dreams into the best plan of action for the upcoming half-year, given available time and educational resources. This explicit plan enables the programme to guide you, and to make sure that your undertaking in the semester leads to results that have a sufficient educational quality. In order to safeguard the latter, your plan must at least aim at reaching the semester goals.
In a sense, the PDP can be considered as a mutual agreement and commitment about what the relationship between the student and the programme entails for the upcoming semester. In your self-evaluation report (SER) you evaluate whether your plans worked out and to what extend you have reached the semester goals. You will write a SER for your Midterm Evaluation (MTE) and at the end of the semester. In your midterm SER you only evaluate whether you are on track with your plans, at the end of the semester you evaluate whether you have reached your goals and provide evidence for your achievements. The SER not only serves as a means for evaluating how well you performed up until then, it is also the basis for the period to come. For your midterm SER, this means you evaluate whether you have to adapt your plans. For your SER at the end of the semester, this means that your SER is the basis of the PDP of next semester. The couple SER-PDP are in fact two sides of the same gate.
Since plans may change over time, it might occur that you want to change electives or other educational activities. Such major changes should always be discussed with the semester coordinator in order to safeguard whether it remains feasible to achieve the semester goals.
More detailed information on writing your PDP, MTE and SER will be published on CANVAS.
Project (9 EC)
The theme of the third semester project in ATLAS is “Living under extreme conditions”. You will consider the extremes of human existence, exploring new environments and high-stress situations. You will explore technologies that play a role in enabling or improving life under said conditions and consider approaches to (re)organize societies and accommodate individuals in order to live under difficult circumstances. 
In your research project, you will create an overview of scientific research (in the natural/engineering sciences, and in the social sciences, or interdisciplinary) that is being done in relation to living under extreme conditions. From this overview, you select a field that relates to your current interest and expertise. Executing the complete empirical research cycle, comprising modelling, reasoning, and experimental validation, you get hands-on experience on what “doing research” entails. You will experience both the joy and the frustrations, but also become aware of limitations on feasible research, both related to your current knowledge and skills and to available time, money, and equipment. 
Knowing that the perfect study is never practically feasible, you have to make justified choices. Of course, you will choose research that is “good” for the world under stress. But, what is “good”? You will learn to reason about the concept of “doing good for humanity”. With this experience of what it entails to do research, and with this ethical background, we re-visit the overview you created and turn it into a research agenda.
More detailed information can be found in a separate project syllabus.

Domain courses (9 EC)
  • Natural Sciences (3EC)
In semester 3, the natural science course is called ‘Classics of the Natural Sciences’. In this course we study classical papers that introduced and established key concepts and theories of modern natural science. Starting point is a close reading of original publications from thermo, relativity, QM, and so on. We analyze and discuss its content and meaning: what new science it contained, how this was developed and presented. In this way we get a feeling for the key elements of modern physics and how science works. Secondly we look at the context of the papers: the historical setting (who, what, where, and how; where did it come from and how was it received) and scientific legacy (what do we find in textbooks).

Activities: group discussions, presentation, written assignment.

Learning goals: after this course you…
  • can recognize and explain the content and meaning of key concepts and insights from modern natural sciences
  • can discuss the historical and scientific context and significance of key concepts and insights from modern natural sciences
  • can make an analysis of the reasoning and epistemic structure of scientific papers
  • Social Sciences (3 EC)*
In Semester 3, the social science domain course is about research methodology. In this course we will focus on scientific reasoning when conducting research in the social science domain. Scientific reasoning is the foundation supporting the entire structure of logic underpinning scientific research. Scientific reasoning (SR), broadly defined, includes the thinking skills involved in inquiry, experimentation, evidence evaluation, inference and argumentation that are done in the service of scientific understanding (Dunbar and Fugelsang, 2005). With use of classic and modern examples we will study the key methodological issues of various research methods commonly used in social science. Furthermore, you will be honing some of your research skills.
Activities: group discussions, workshops, presentations, small project(s).
Learning goals: after this course you…
  • can identify and describe key methodological issues relevant to a range of basic research methods used in social science.
  • can develop a research plan with use of the basic steps of the research cycle; afterwards you can critically reflect on the scientific reasoning and from this distil improvements.
  • can write a peer review report on the main methodological issues, relating to 1) data collection 2) data analysis, 3) quality criteria and 4) ethics, in a scientifically sound and constructive manner;
* This course description is a draft – minor changes may follow.
  • Mathematics (3 EC)
In semester 3, you learn about Probability Theory and Statistics (weeks 1 to 10). Learning goals: after this course you are…
knowledgeable on the fundamentals of probability models and the theory underlying statistical methods;
able to choose and apply appropriate statistical methods in various data analysis problems.

Offered activities:
  • The course consists of lectures (2 hours per week), with room for questions and discussions, plus tutorials / practical sessions (also 2 hours per week);
  • Q&A session in week 10;
  • The course will be concluded with an exam in week 10.
  • “Probability theory for engineers”, UT syllabus by Dick Meijer;
  • “Statistics for engineers”, UT syllabus by Dick Meijer.
  • Both syllabi can be bought at the Union Shop in the Bastille (they cost around € 10 each); the teacher can also provide PDFs of these syllabi.
Feedback opportunities:
Weekly interactions with the teachers at the tutorials;
Take-home test in week 7;
Final exam in week 10 with option to discuss results.
Electives (9 EC)
There is 9 EC reserved for electives of your own choice. Choices for electives should be argued in your PDP. How does following these electives provide evidence for reaching the semester goals and how does it fit your academic development as a new engineer? Evidence for the electives should be in before the SER deadline. This limits the number of electives outside ATLAS you can follow in the second half of the semester. Make sure you choose electives for which the evidence is available in time. Send evidence to
The schedule will soon be available in My Timetable and in Canvas. Generally, the weeks have the following structure and we can confirm these activities:
  • Monday and Thursday mornings: project workshops, group feedback and question hours;
  • Tuesday mornings: social science research methodology
  • Wednesday mornings: Classics of the natural sciences
  • Fridays: Probability Theory and Statistics (weeks 1 to 10);
  • Fridays at lunch: What’s on, BookBuzz, and Inspiring lectures.
  • You will also have planned activities related to your elective courses. Looking at the planning of domain courses (most are offered in the first half of the semester), you are advised to pick most of your elective credits in the second half of the semester.
Important deadlines:

PDP: initial 24 August, revised 27 September & update 8 November 2019
SER and evidence electives: midterm 29 October 2019, final 16 January 2020.
Participating study
Bachelor Technology and Liberal Arts & Sciences
Verplicht materiaal
Aanbevolen materiaal
Overig onderwijs


Switch to English