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Heterogeneous Catalysis (HET)


Admission requirements

Core course in MSc Chemistry – Energy and Sustainability, elective course in MSc Chemistry - Chemical Biology
For students with a BSc degree in MST or equivalent. Other candidates should have a solid background in physical chemistry and catalysis.


In this course the art and science of heterogeneous catalysis will be treated. Heterogeneous catalysis is a crucial technology in modern society. Approximately 90% of all chemicals and materials around us are produced using catalysis and catalysis impacts around one-quarter of the world’s gross domestic product. The following topics will be discussed: The two common research approaches in heterogeneous catalysis; the chemical and physical processes at solid surfaces taking place during heterogeneous catalysis, e.g. adsorption, diffusion, desorption; the kinetics and thermodynamics of catalysis; the preparation and characterization of catalysts; the activity, selectivity, and stability of catalysts; and examples of industrially important heterogeneously catalyzed chemical reactions, e.g. automotive catalysis, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and hydrodesulfurization. We also visit laboratories at the LIC that are active in heterogeneous catalysis studies and directly related research. Every lecture, a new subject is introduced by a 45-minute lecture and one or two of the participants present papers from the recent scientific literature in relation to a previously discussed topic.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students:

  • will have knowledge of fundamental principles of heterogeneous catalysis

  • will understand physical and chemical phenomena taking place at solid surfaces during heterogeneous catalysis processes

  • will have knowledge of common methods for preparation and characterization of (model) catalysts

  • can describe the most common industrial processes involving heterogeneous catalysis

  • can describe the two common research approaches in heterogeneous catalysis

  • can solve problems regarding the kinetics and thermodynamics of heterogeneous catalysis

  • can solve problems regarding the activity, selectivity, and stability of catalysts

  • can digest and present a summary of scientific articles from the literature


Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, exercises, and discussion meetings.

Assessment method

Active participation in the discussions following the presentation of scientific articles and peer-review of presentations (10%)
Presentation by students (40%)
Written examination (50%)
All three assessments have to be passed with a 6.0 or higher.

Presence at the lectures and discussion meetings is obligatory.

Reading list

The course is based on the following books: John Meurig Thomas and W. John Thomas, Principles and Practice of Heterogeneous Catalysis, 2nd edition, Wiley 2014; Ulf Haneveld and Leon Lefferts (Eds.), Catalysis, An Integrated Textbook for Students, Wiley-VCH 2018. In addition, articles from the primary literature are used.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Dr. I.M.N. Groot


Assignment deadlines are communicated via Brightspace.

According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.