Universiteit Leiden

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English Language and Culture (BA)

In today’s world English is everywhere – from literature to films, from trade to international politics. Would you like to know more about this fascinating language and the cultures it represents, while learning to speak, write and read English at an advanced near-native level? Our English Language and Culture BA programme covers English in all its aspects, from the early middle ages to the present day.

Why English Language and Culture?

English is a truly global language, the mother tongue of approximately 380 million people and spoken as a second language by over a billion more. As an English bachelor’s student in Leiden, you will acquire an excellent command of spoken and written English, while also learning to understand the language structure and the mechanics behind language acquisition. Moreover, you will have the chance to study the culture of Great Britain and other English-speaking countries in-depth, while analysing the relation between language changes and societal changes over the ages. Our programme offers plenty of opportunities to read and study the rich literatures of the English-speaking world, from Shakespeare to Derek Walcott, and from Beowulf to Zadie Smith. You will also get a taste of the Middle Ages while exploring texts in their original Old and Middle English.

Tailor-made programme

In the second and third year, you will be able to tailor the programme according to your interests by taking several specialisation courses. Also, in the third year, you will have the opportunity to choose a minor, do an internship or study abroad. This will allow you to prepare in the best possible way for the job market or for the next step in your academic career.

Why English Language and Culture at Leiden University?

  • Our bachelor’s programme is unique in the Netherlands for the width of its scope. It covers English in all its varieties, from the earliest beginning in the Middle Ages to the present day.
  • By studying the English language and culture over the ages, you will develop an understanding of why and how society in the English-speaking world changed over time.
  • The entire programme is taught in English, which will support you in developing your language skills.
  • Our lecturers belong to the top of their field, whose current research is reflected in their teaching.
  • This is a programme with a personal approach, prioritising work in small groups and in close contact with the lecturers.
  • We have excellent facilities in Leiden, while Amsterdam and The Hague are within travelling distance. All three cities regularly feature events with international authors and thinkers.
  • You will be part of a lively international community of students and teachers.
  • Our programme is the perfect preparation for a career in academia, the public or private sector.

Tatum Meijer


Tatum Meijer

"Since I visited the Open Day at Leiden University, I knew that I wanted to study English Language and Culture. I was intrigued by the language, but the programme discusses so much more than that, ranging from literature to philology. The atmosphere at Leiden University felt good, I experienced a lot of personal attention, and the fact that it’s quite a broad programme fascinated me. It is very different from the subject English that is taught at high school as the programme is linked to a lot of different areas."

Sander Stolk


Sander Stolk

“English really is a world language; whatever the US President does and everything that happens in the UK is reported in the media here. If you are interested in what people say in English and how the English language works, then this programme is definitely for you.”

Dr. Mo Gordon

University Lecturer

Dr. Mo Gordon

"I teach about the English language. There tend to be a lot of negative attitudes towards non-standard varieties of English and I think students of English can have an important role in changing this. By teaching them about variation they will be able to explain why we find variation in language and why that isn’t necessarily a problem. They will also learn that there is use for other varieties – besides the use of the standard variety. In my courses, I also discuss colonial histories and the language varieties that sprang from them. Some of these histories can lead to difficult and painful conversations, but at the same time, it is important to address the dark aspects of colonial history."

Is English Language and Culture the programme for you?

  • Do you want to study English from multiple angles, learning the language, looking at its structure, as well as the culture of English-speaking countries?
  • Do you love reading and do you like English-language literature?
  • Do you want to be challenged into exploring all aspects of English language and culture?
  • Would you like to get close to the thinking and culture of the Anglo-Saxon middle ages?
  • Are you interested in acquiring not only in-depth knowledge about English and the English-speaking world, but in also developing academic and professional skills?

If the answer to these questions is 'yes', then our programme may be perfect for you.

Check out the programme structure

Get a real taste of what the first year may look like

Do you want to know if English Language and Culture is right for you? Check out our Online Experience, which consists of online mini-courses, including some assignments. This allows you to get a real taste of the first year of our programme.
Take the online experience!

Chat with a student

Do you have questions about studying at Leiden University or student life in Leiden? Would you like to have more information about the English Language and Culture programme? Chat with a current student for answers to your questions!

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