What is TOM?

Modular education

The University of Twente wants to prompt students to take control of their own learning process and to maximize their involvement in the campus community. An education is something our students do everything for. Our bachelor's programmes consist of twelve modules of ten weeks each (15 ECTS) that have to be completed in full. The first two years (eight modules) represent the core of the programme. For modules 9 and 10, the students choose elective modules to broaden or deepen their knowledge. The last semester of the programme, worth 30 ECTS, is the graduating semester. This may consist of two separate modules of 15 ECTS given in sequence, two modules of 15 ECTS given simultaneously or a single large module worth 30 ECTS.

Modules allow for the flexible deployment of a variety of teaching methods, such as inspiring lectures, practicals, tutorials, discussion platforms and review sessions or, for example, working full-time on one subject for several days and then switching to a different subject.

Mandatory contact hours

Students can be challenged to work on their study full-time by providing well thought-out and stimulating assignments. However, studying full-time is not the same as filling up the entire schedule with forty hours of mandatory presence on campus. We prefer to leave room for personal planning available, which is why weeks should not be filled up full-time with contact hours. Starting in the 2015-2016 academic year, bachelor students in their first year need to be offered at least twenty contact hours with a teacher, tutor or student assistant per academic week. This is one of the performance agreements made with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (see www.utwente.nl/bestuur/publicaties)

Variety in teaching methods

Variety in teaching methods keeps students alert and increases the chance that students with different learning styles can still succeed. The different educational activities are all designed around one carefully defined theme, which ensures there is internal coherence. The module becomes more meaningful because of it: students understand the bigger picture. Because all module units are required to achieve the learning objectives of the project, the module is an integrated whole and can be viewed as one large course in a project setting.


In a Student-Driven module, students can determine for themselves whether they need the offered sources and learning activities to achieve the learning objectives - where proper tutoring is of the essence. Some people think that such open modules are better suited further along in the degree programme, rather than during the first year. However, it is important that there exists an upward trend in the programme, which increases the control the student is expected to take of their own learning process.

Others believe that the first module can already be this open in nature. However, having a proper safety net is important. The intensity of the tutoring decreases as the student progresses through the programme. In both cases, coordination on this aspect between the various module teams within the programme is necessary.

Coherence and integration

One of the guiding principles of TOM is that we no longer have courses. An important TOM pillar is a strong coherence between the module-units mutually and with the project. The module is one unit. Knowledge and skills that are offered in the module units are integrated with each other and essential for completing the project.

Courses of learning

All bachelor’s programmes offer 15 ECTS of reflective education (academic development course of learning). The programme management chooses and determines in which module or modules this subject is incorporated.

The technical degree programmes participate in a joint mathematics course of learning. Its content and design can be found on Blackboard (EWI-TOMLEERLIJN-MATHABCD). Every year, the programme director of mathematics and the programme directors of the participating programmes ensure that the mathematics course of learning is tailored to the contents of the programmes as much as possible. The same goes for the joint Methods and Technologies course of learning for the social sciences.

Shared Modules

Some programmes share module units or entire modules with each other. This can be done for efficiency reasons, but it can also be interesting because of the module’s contents. For example, Technische Bedrijfskunde (Industrial Engineering Management), Business & IT and Technische Informatica (Technical Computer Sciences) share the first introductory module (module 1) to give students an impression of the scope of this cluster. To give another example, module 4 of their programme has students of Technische Natuurkunde (Technical Physics) working together with students of Technische Wiskunde (Technical Mathematics) to reproduce historic experiments. They need each other’s expertise to complete the project.

The Module Map shows which modules are shared.