Universiteit Leiden

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English Language and Culture (BA)

About the programme

English Language and Culture is a multi-faceted programme in which you’ll study the language in all its variaties, from Old English to the many different pronunciations currently in use. You’ll also be shown British, American and Canadian literature in their cultural-historical context.

Programme overview

In the first year, English language skills will play a particularly important role. You’ll practice your English writing, listening and pronunciation skills, discuss phonetics and syntax, why English words are pronounced as they are and the structure of English sentences. Starting with an introductory course, you will also acquire basic skills for studying (English) literature, after which you will read and analyse texts. You will also learn how to carry out academic research and report on it in writing.

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. Thanks to electives, you’ll be able to delve deeper into the areas that interest you and tailor the programme to your needs. In year three you’ll conclude your bachelor’s with a thesis on a subject of your own choice. In it you will be demonstrating that you are an academic, by 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."

Jitse Brouwer

senior student

Jitse Brouwer

“I really enjoy the literature and culture courses, such as one on popular culture. Every week we discuss a film or a TV series, such as the original British version of House of Cards, for example. Viewers often don’t realise what a series like this says about British culture.”

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.”


If you take on the English Language and Culture programme, be prepared to put in a full working week of about 40 hours. Of this, an average of 15 hours will be spent in the classroom and in workgroups, for example, and the rest will be spent on independent study. During lectures you will be given the main framework and you can take notes and ask questions. You can then flesh out the subjects in tutorial sessions, by discussing translations you’ve done from Middle English with your fellow students, for example. You’ll also be expected to give oral presentations.

Studying English at Leiden University Q&A.

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Student support services

You can rely on receiving plenty of support during the programme. A mentor/tutor will be on hand to offer the necessary help and in a first year mentoring group you can practice your academic skills.

Furthermore, the coordinator of studies can provide advice about the programme, arrange all kinds of practical things, or help you if you have personal issues.

A student psychologist can also be consulted and, in the event of chronic illness, dyslexia or a physical or psychological disability, you can contact the Fenestra Disability Centre.

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