Universiteit Leiden

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English Language and Culture (BA)

Programme structure

The English Language and Culture programme focuses on four areas: language acquisition, literature, philology and linguistics. The electives in the second and third year allow you to follow you interests and specialise in one or more of our four fields of study.

What you will learn

Your existing English language skills will be substantially developed, both in terms of your spoken and written English. In the area of linguistics, you will delve deeper into language as a system. In the literature classes, you will become familiar with the rich world of English literature, while in the philology courses you will study Old English and Middle English literature and the earliest stages of the English language.

During the course of the programme, you will also develop academic and professional skills such as writing, presenting, problem solving, conducting research, working in teams and critical assessment of information. Many of those skills are sought after by employers and will be of use to you in your further career.

Some of our courses

Language Acquisition 1: The Spoken Word

In this course, you will acquire and develop the skills that will enable you to express yourself accurately and fluently in spoken English. Your active vocabulary will be increased, enabling you to speak comfortably about everyday things, as well as academic, social and cultural topics.

Linguistics 1: The Phonetics of English

An introduction to the phonetics, or pronunciation, of modern English. In this course, you will learn how sounds are formed, how they can be described, classified and combined and how they influence one another. You will also learn how to transcribe phonemically.

Introduction to Old English Language and Literature

This course introduces you to the language, culture and history of early medieval England. At the end of the course, you will be able to read, translate and understand short texts, including saints' lives, riddles and heroic poetry. Leiden's course offerings for Old English are unique within the Netherlands.

Language Acquisition 3: Grammar in Writing

The emphasis of this series of courses in the second year lies on the use of correct language, in terms of vocabulary, grammar and style. The aim is to give students knowledge and insights into English written grammar, knowledge of the terminology used in traditional English grammar and the capacity to apply it all when writing English texts.

Language and Linguistics: Tools and Methods

In this course, you will be familiarised with the different ways in which language can be studied. Among other things, you will learn about several important sub-disciplines and common research methods in the field of linguistics. You will also acquire experience in summarising relevant background literature and recent research findings.

Literature 3A: The American Renaissance, American Literature, 1620-1865

The main focus of the course will be on the American Renaissance (1836-1861). With the publication of The Scarlet Letter (1850), Moby-Dick (1851), and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), the literature of the new American republic came to rank with the classics of world literature for the first time. The period also marked the beginning of an African American literary tradition, as fugitive slaves published autobiographical narratives that had a great impact on black writers in the following centuries.

Language Acquisition 5: Writing a Research Report in Applied Linguistics

This course will show you how research reports function and it will team you up with other students to conduct research in applied linguistics and write a report. The course will develop your knowledge of theory and research in applied linguistics, teach you methods of collecting and analysing data, improve your academic writing in English and prepare you for your thesis.

Literature 5: Introduction to American Film

This course explores the breadth of mid-twentieth-century film, and includes examining the relationship between the cinema and other modes of performance, whether in the theatre, radio or television. This course considers these works of art in their cultural context, and scrutinises the ways in which popular film expressed, critiqued or questioned developments within American society.

Language Acquisition 6: Contemporary Literatures in English

This course offers a selection of texts from the various literatures in English of the period 1969-2019, with an emphasis on the last 15 years. We will study the work of authors like John Fowles, Salman Rushdie, J.M. Coetzee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Philip Roth, Ali Smith and Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche in relation to the great shifts taking place within late 20th-century literature (e.g. Postmodernism and Postcolonialism), but also in relation to the social, political and cultural changes after World War II (with themes such as ‘feminism’, ‘race’, ‘migration and globalisation’).

Thesis in English language and Culture

Your thesis, comprising between 7,500 and 10,000 words, will be written in the final semester of the third year. Its assessment includes the student’s ability to devise and clearly define a research topic, the processing of the secondary literature and source material, and the use of language, structure and layout.

Lectures as well as helpful videos

Lecturer Thijs Porck makes short videos to support his lectures. In this video, he talks not only about case and gender in Old English, but also about the 'Old English magic sheet'.

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Detailed programme

See below for an overview of the curriculum. For a detailed description of the courses, check the Prospectus. Please note that this Prospectus applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

The English Language and Culture programme can be followed full-time as well as part-time. Both versions of the programme do not differ in content, they only differ in length and workload.

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More information

Tailored to your personal interests

In the third year, you will have several options to tailor the programme to your personal interests. You can choose to do the programme’s electives, but you can also create your own electives package. Additionally, there is the option to do an internship with an international company or NGO, or to participate in an international exchange programme. In spite of Brexit, there are still more than enough options to study at a university in an English-speaking country, such as Ireland, Canada or the US.

For excellent students, there is the prestigious Harting programme. Even after Brexit, this programme will still enable students to study at the University of York and other British universities. Alternatively, you may choose to combine your programme with courses offered at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts in The Hague. Finally, if you are a Dutch-speaking student you can follow an educational minor, which will qualify you to teach at junior level in Dutch secondary schools.

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