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[1/4] Second Year: External Electives… what to do with all the free space

After your first semester in ATLAS, credit space is held free to fill with external electives. But why does this exist, and what exactly are external electives?

The ATLAS programme provides three types of ‘prepared’ education, namely mandatory courses, semester projects and ATLAS based electives. Mandatory courses are those providing necessary, fundamental knowledge and are specified to the theme of each semester. Semester projects are the large, interdisciplinary projects which set ATLAS apart from typical programs. Lastly, ATLAS electives are courses provided by ATLAS teachers either in their field of specialisation or as an integrative elective.


External electives are courses and modules provided by the University of Twente and are a part of other Bachelor programmes taught at the UT. The intention behind this is allowing ATLAS students to explore different interests and possibilities. For example, in your second semester you may explore a course in electrical engineering, industrial design and an introduction to business administration. Something technical, more creative and social, to figure out where your main interest lies. 


ATLAS students often use this opportunity in one of three ways.

  1. The student begins by exploring but soon finds themselves with a specific interest and following courses mainly in one particular programme, honing in on a specialisation.
  2. Other students may also have a specialisation, but chose to demonstrate abilities in a second field as well. For example, major in mechanical engineering but minor in human centred design. Whilst being in different fields, the directions relate to and compliment each other.
  3. Some find themselves with a broad interdisciplinary profile and therefore make use of the large variety of courses to choose from. Combining, for example, basic psychology, business administration but innovation dynamics courses with industrial engineering, a student can prepare themselves for a management role in an innovative design company.

These are just three main examples. It can be interesting and exciting to talk to different ATLAS students if you get the chance to hear about how they came to their specialisation, since the stories can vary greatly.

Thus, if you found yourself browsing the UT website, looking into different programmes and finding half the topics interesting and the other not, ATLAS allows you to combine them and explore new options.

University College Twente offers a unique bachelor’s programme, Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences, to top students. Visit the University College Twente website for more information about the college and Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences website for more information about the bachelor program. Or visit us during the open day, a student-for-a-day or an insight-day.

Grace Wachter
Writer, Class of 2021
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