Universiteit Leiden

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English Language and Culture (BA)

About the programme

The English Language and Culture programme will give you a sound basis for further specialisation and the training of competences in the first and second year. In the third year, you will have elective options, allowing you to tailor the programme to your interests. Throughout the programme, you will work on your language skills, while at the same time perfecting your writing and presentation skills.

The programme's four main fields of study

  1. Language Acquisition
    You will learn to speak and write English at a (near-)native level. This language component includes academic writing and presentation skills.
  2. Literature
    You will read and study literature from the English-speaking world, from the middle ages to today, studying authors like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, James Joyce, Jhumpa Lahiri and Margaret Atwood.
  3. Linguistics
    You will explore the structure of the language and how it gradually changed throughout history to its present-day unique sound system and syntax. Furthermore, you will study the differences between language acquisition in the case of English as a first and as a second language.
  4. Philology
    You will learn to read fascinating Old and Middle English texts, including riddles, poetry and legends, bringing you right on the doorstep of England’s middle ages.

Programme overview

In the first year, English language skills will play an important role. You will practice your English writing, listening and pronunciation skills, discuss phonetics and syntax and the structure of English sentences. During this year, you will also be introduced to Old and Middle English. You will take an introductory course in Literary Studies, and start your study of English literature. Additionally, you will start developing basic academic skills such as researching, processing and critically assessing information, writing and presenting.

During the second and third year, your language skills, along with your research, essay-writing and presentation skills, will be further developed and you will have the option of doing a minor or an internship. The electives in this programme allow you to follow your interests and specialise in one or more of our four themes: language, literature, linguistics and philology. In the third year, you will conclude your bachelor’s with a thesis on a subject of your own choice. This will give you the chance to apply what you have learned, searching for specific information, critically analysing that information and then reporting on it clearly, both orally and in writing.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, please check the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Tahani Lalmahomed


Tahani Lalmahomed

"The courses on literature are my favourite. Each semester in the second year we choose between British or American literature. The books that you read depend on a certain period of time, and you learn about the history and culture of that period in parallel. That was the main reason for me to choose American literature: I find American history more interesting. Moreover, I am less familiar with American literature. Last semester we read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I was very impressed by that."

Muriël de Kroon


Muriël de Kroon

"I’m currently on exchange in Sydney and studying at the University of Sydney. The English programme is different here from Leiden. The Sydney programme's two main areas are literature and linguistics and they are almost completely separated programmes. I follow some courses of both, as well as some general Humanities courses. It’s really different from Leiden, because in Leiden everything is small and close by. Sydney, on the other hand, has a large university with a lot of students. Leiden has more of a community-feeling, which isn’t the case here. I do like it here though, because they focus on fields that are less highlighted in Leiden. This gives me the opportunity to expand my horizon in certain fields."

Evert van Leeuwen

University Lecturer

Evert van Leeuwen

“It’s so rewarding to witness how students can be moved by literature. In the first year, for example, we read Wise Blood (1952) by American author Flannery O’Connor. It’s an absurdist novel with grotesque characters, and it poses rather a substantial challenge.”

Nadien tells you everything about the English Language and Culture programme

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Study load

In order to successfully pass all of the courses, you can expect to spend approximately 40 hours a week on the three-year full-time English Language and Culture programme. This includes an average of 15 hours reserved for lectures and tutorials. The remainder is intended for independent study. The programme can also be completed part-time with the same contents but a longer duration. If you wish to follow the bachelor English Language and Culture simultaneously with another bachelor, please note that it can be challenging due to the mandatory attendance of the tutorials in the first year. If you would like to discuss your personal situation or your study plan, please contact the study advisors.

Educational methods

All our lecturers will encourage you to follow your curiosity, while challenging you on an intellectual level. To this end, our programme includes lectures and tutorials, as well as individual and group assignments. During the lectures, the lecturer discusses specific topics, which are tackled and further elaborated upon in tutorials in groups of about 15 to 20 students. During tutorials, you participate in group discussions. For some courses, you may also be asked to give oral presentations during tutorials.

Student support

Do you need support during your study? We make sure to offer our students the support they need. A mentor will be at hand to offer the help or advice that you need.

Should you have any questions about the programme, our coordinator of studies is available to provide advice or help you make practical arrangements if needed.

Apart from study advice, we offer many more support services. Our Career Services can help you arrange a study abroad or find an internship position.

In case of psychological issues, a university psychologist can be consulted. In the event of chronic illness, dyslexia or a physical or psychological disability, you can contact the university’s Fenestra Disability Centre.

The POPcorner is an accessible study support point with locations in Leiden and The Hague, focused on creating an inclusive and diverse learning environment. As well as organising POPtalks on D&I related topics, the POPcorner helps students develop study skills through workshops, create social and support networks, establish personal and academic goals, and connect them with university resources and services.

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