Universiteit Leiden

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Linguistics (BA)

About the Programme

How does the human mind work? Why are some speeches totally 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 programme’s first year focuses on a variety of aspects of linguistics. In courses such as Phonology, Historical Linguistics and Sociolinguistics, you will learn about the research methods used in linguistics. You will also be introduced to aspects of human communication and will learn to see the relation between various language-related disciplines. Courses include lectures, seminars and tutorials. During the second semester, you will select and follow two courses that will prepare you for your chosen specialisation. These courses can range from Psycholinguistics to Argumentation and Persuasion, and from Word and Meaning to Gothic.

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 in gebruik (taught in Dutch). You may also take courses from other specialisations, such as Old Norse or Introduction to the study of Sign languages and Gesture studies. During this year, you will also improve your research and general academic skills, such as analysing, writing, and presenting.

Half of your third year consists of elective space: you can choose to do an internship, follow a fixed minor programme, or a personalised ‘study package’ consisting of electives from another programme. If you wish, you could also spend a semester studying abroad. This is an opportunity for you to tailor your degree to suit your goals. In the second semester of your third year, you will conclude your BA with a thesis. This will give you the chance to apply what you have learned:  searching for specific information, critically analysing that information and reporting on it clearly.

English and Dutch

A major part of this programme is taught in English. The specialisation Taal in gebruik is taught in Dutch.

Isaac Eaton


Isaac Eaton

"Because of the amount of elective space in the Descriptive track, I got the chance to pick and choose courses from other tracks that also interest me. This programme give me the unique opportunity to follow courses on both Comparative and Descriptive Linguistics."

Levi Biesheuvel


Levi Biesheuvel

“My favourite course is Phonology, because it makes you think about the rules that come with the pronunciation of a language. This is something we automatically do, but the fact that you get to analyse how the underlying systems exactly work and how it differs between languages is really interesting. I definitely like the smaller parts of language more, so the sounds and syllables.”

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.”

Wout tells you everything about the Linguistics programme

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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 on 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 study advisor of the programme advises students about their programme, arranges all kinds of practical things (such as the schedule) and helps students in case of personal issues.

If necessary, you will have support beyond your programme 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.

The POPcorner is an accessible study support point with locations in Leiden and The Hague, focused on creating an inclusive and diverse learning environment. As well as organising POPtalks on D&I related topics, the POPcorner helps students develop study skills through workshops, create social and support networks, establish personal and academic goals, and connect them with university resources and services.

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