Universiteit Leiden

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English Language and Culture (BA)

Programme structure

The English Language and Culture programme focuses on four areas, namely: philology, literature, linguistics and language acquisition. It also offers several specialisation options, ranging from renaissance literature to the use of metaphors.

Programme outline

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, among other things learning how to transcribe phonemically and about the syntax of English sentences. In chronological sequence you’ll become familiar with the rich world of English literature, and in the philology courses you’ll study old English literature and the earliest versions of the English language.

Some of the courses

Language Acquisition 1: The Spoken Word

In this course you’ll acquire and develop the skills that will enable you to express yourself accurately and fluently in spoken English, with the emphasis resting on the former. 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 made, how they can be described, classified and combined and the influence they then have on each other. 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 pieces of texts, including saint's lifes, 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’ll also acquire experience in summarising relevant background literature and writing a paper with a fellow student.

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 then 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.

Language Acquisition 6: Writing a Review of Literature

With its focus on academic sourcing, this course will help you prepare for your thesis. In it you’ll learn things like writing academic essays at the appropriate level, carrying out independent research, integrating source material into coherent compositions using sound citation practice, and reading and analysing academic source material.

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. It will be assessed on the adequacy of the formulation and operationalisation of the premise, the processing of the secondary literature and source material, and its use of language, structure and layout. 

Old English grammar

Lecturer Thijs Porck makes short videos to support his lectures. In this video, he talks about case and gender in Old English. 

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Detailed programme

Below you can find an overview of the curriculum. For a detailed description of the courses, see the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

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Part-time degree programme

The English language and culture programme can be followed part-time as well.

Courses and workload

The part-time programme only differs in length to the full-time programme. The duration of the course is 4,5 years. Each year consists of approximately 40 EC. Except for the first year, which consists of 45 EC. The average amount of workload is 20-30 hours per week.

Daytime or evening

The programme is taught during office hours. In exceptional cases higher year courses take place early in the evening. All courses are taught Monday to Thursday. Friday is usually free of classes.

More information


In addition to regular programme electives, you’ll have several options in the third year. You could, for example, create your own electives package, or do an internship with an international company or development organisation or an internship or exchange abroad. Alternatively, you could combine your programme with courses given by the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts in The Hague. Finally, if you are a Dutch speaking student you could follow an educational minor, which, in addition to being excellent preparation for a master’s degree, will qualify you to give lessons at junior level in Dutch high schools.

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