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

Linguistics 1: Analyzing English Sounds and Words

This is an introduction to modern English phonetics (pronunciation and intonation) and morphology. You will learn how speech sounds are made and how they can be transcribed phonemically. You will also learn about word-formation rules of English.

Language Acquisition 2: 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.

Philology 2: 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: Functional Grammar

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 course focuses on accuracy, providing in-depth knowledge and understanding of how grammar, but also punctuation, spelling and lexicogrammar and collocation are used as register and stylistic tools to create meaning in writing.

Literature 3A: American Literature, Beginnings to 1865

This seminar surveys the development of a distinctly American literary culture and history from the first encounters between Native Americans and Europeans to the mid-nineteenth century. In exploring this expanding terrain, we will encounter new genres and media, consider the impact of race and gender on ideas of freedom and democracy, and assess the formation of an American literary canon.

English-Language Popular Culture

Since the rise of Cultural Studies in the 1970s, research and analysis into cinema, television, popual music and popular fiction has become a staple part of the field of English Studies at universities. This course gives students an introduction to English-language popular-culture studies. The case studies in the analysis of pop-culture texts focus on the production, reception and cultural impact of various forms of English-language popular culture. The course also covers in more detail specific critical methodologies for the study of popular culture, from Stuart Hall’s classic “encoding/decoding” theory to structuralist approaches to popular genres and the cultural politics of popular music.

Language Acquisition 5: Theories and Research Methods in Applied Linguistics

This course introduces you to some of the frameworks, methodologies, and tools that applied linguists use to analyze language use and development. The course provides you with the opportunity to explore a selection of methodologies such as discourse analysis, computational linguistics, and language ethnography. It introduces you to some of the associated methods that linguists use to collect and analyze data, such as interview and observation protocols, concordance software programs, and abductive coding procedures.

Literature 5D: 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.

Philology 6: Middle English Literature and Culture

In this course, students will be introduced to a selection of literary forms and genres from the Middle English period (c. 1100 to c. 1500), including lyric, Breton lai, courtly romance, beast fable, mock epic, fabliau, dream vision, and allegory.

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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