Universiteit Leiden

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Linguistics (BA)

About the Programme

How does the human mind work? Why are some speeches so persuasive, and others less so? How do children acquire language so effortlessly? During your BA in Linguistics you will be immersed in the intellectual universe of language and communication and its profound implications for every aspect of everyday life.


The Bachelor’s in Linguistics is a three-year programme, taught in Dutch or English depending upon the specialisation you choose.

The first year of the programme focuses different aspects of linguistics. In courses such as Phonology, Historical Linguistics and Sociolinguistics, you will learn about the various research methods used in linguistics. Courses include lectures, seminars and tutorials. During the second semester, you will select and follow two courses that relate to your chosen specialisation.

During your second year you will take courses related to your chosen area of specialisation. Four specialised tracks are available: Descriptive Linguistics, Language and Cognition, Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (all taught in English) or Taal en Communicatie (taught in Dutch). You may also take courses from other specialisations. You will improve your research and general academic skills (such as analysis, writing and presenting).

Half of your third year is discretionary space: you can choose to do an internship, follow a fixed minor programme, or creating and following a personalised ‘study package’ comprising electives from another programme. This is an opportunity for you to further tailor your degree to suit your goals. During the final semester of the programme you write your academic thesis. You can choose the subject of your thesis together with your supervisor.

Luuk Suurmeijer


Luuk Suurmeijer

“For me the most interesting subject is syntax, but phonology really appeals as well.  What’s great about Leiden is that in the first year you build an extremely broad basis thanks to the huge range of courses available. A lot of students from other universities come here to follow specific courses that nowhere else offers.”

Alwin Kloekhorst

University Lecturer

Alwin Kloekhorst

“What I find so fascinating about my field is that you can make new discoveries using very old language data. We analyse ancient language sources that are close to the Indo-European ancestral language, such as Hittite, which helps us understand modern languages. You are often the first person in about 3500 years to study and understand a certain text! I can transmit my research findings from last week directly to my students. There is so much still to be discovered, and I try to teach my students how to make those discoveries.”

Educational methods

As a student of the BA in Linguistics, you can expect a full working week of about 40 hours. You will spend an average of 14 hours in lectures or tutorials, and the rest of your time on independent study. Lectures focus upon a particular topic, while tutorials explore material in greater depth and with more student input, for example through solo or group presentations.

Student support services

The Coordinator of Studies of the programme advises students about their programme, arranges all kinds of practical things (such as the schedule) and help students in case of personal issues.

You have support beyond your programme too, from the dean of students or student psychologist. And if you experience chronic illness, physical or psychological disabilities or dyslexia you can contact Fenestra Disability Centre for personal advice before or early in your application process.

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