Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Linguistics (MA)

About the Programme

The master's programme in Linguistics is a one-year programme that offers a wide range of perspectives on the history, structure and use of language, and teaches you to contribute to this broad field in your own area of interest.

Programme overview

The programme has three specialisations, and offers a wide range of courses that can be combined according to specific thematic or disciplinary routes, which allow you to tailor your study programme to your personal interests.

  • In the Modern Languages specialisation, you study one of the following languages: English, French, German, or Italian..Courses are offered in the language of study. In the elective part of the program you can focus on one of the thematic or disciplinary routes, Second Language Learning or Language and Literature. In addition to these two, there is the possibility of creating your own thematic or disciplinary route depending on your specific interests. This programme also prepares you for the educational Master at ICLON.
  • In the Linguistics specialisation, a linguistic theme forms the basis of the various thematic or disciplinary routes: Language Description and Documentation, Theoretical or Experimental Approaches to Linguistics, Language Use and Communication, Language Acquisition, and Forensic and Phonetic Speech Science. In addition, there is the possibility of creating your own thematic or disciplinary route depending on your specific interests.
  • In the Translation in Theory and Practice (Dutch/Engish) specialization, you receive a step-by-step academic training in the art of translation, its theoretical underpinning and practice.

The master's programme in Linguistics comprises 60 ECTS credits:

  • 40 credits for core courses, electives, or an internship
  • 20 credits for a Master's thesis (including a 5 EC methods course)

For a more detailed programme structure, please check the specialisation of your interest.

All specialisations are offered in Full-time. English Language and Linguistics, French Language and Linguistics, and Translation in Theory and Practice are offered in Part-time as well.

You can tailor the programme to your own interest through a range of electives that cater to various thematic and disciplinary interests.

In order to gain work experience or to explore the professional field, you can do an internship (10 EC) as part of your studies through the Career Service of the Humanities faculty. Within the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, it may be possible to do an internship at one of the Experimental Linguistics Labs, or to exploring the world of scientific research together with an experienced researcher is possible through an individual project.


The programme is concluded with a Master's thesis (20 EC), which reflects your thematic or disciplinary route. A thesis topic may require knowledge of a specific research method, so an additional course on this method (5 EC) may count towards the total 20 EC for the Master’s thesis.  Within the Modern Languages specialisation, the thesis can be written in the language of specialisation: English, French, German, or Italian. 

The thesis may reflect a wide range of topics, ranging from a linguistic analysis of a language, a linguistic comparison of languages, an experiment performed in one of the Linguistics Labs, an analysis of political speeches, a study of language policies, an annotated translation, to a language description, and more.

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Fieldwork
  • Internship
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays and reports
  • Oral presentations
  • MA thesis

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, see the e-Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Claartje Levelt


Claartje Levelt

"Studying linguistics always involves critical assessment: do the data confirm my hypothesis, what kind of data are necessary to distinguish between competing theories, what is the best way to set up an experiment that will provide informative data? How solid are the arguments presented in the existing literature? It really sharpens the mind!"

Claudio Di Felice

Researcher and University Lecturer

Claudio Di Felice

“The learning dynamics within this MA will help you build your curriculum, developing in you the language and editorial skills that employers are looking for, as well as the strong analytical skills needed for a career in research.”

Mark Rutgers


Mark Rutgers

“Many of our master’s students discover the quality of our programmes only after they join us. In the Netherlands, self-promotion is not a big part of our culture, yet Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty ranks alongside the most prestigious universities in the world, and is the established leader in continental Europe. What can our students expect from this programme? An education on par with the world’s best, with teaching by top researchers.”

Alumni: close-knit global community

“Your graduation from a master’s programme marks a new chapter in your relationship with Leiden University. Our alumni community is highly active in terms of network-building and development. They are valued by the university, and we support them with personal and professional development and free use of our facilities such as the Leiden University Library. This close-knit global community offers life-long support for all our former students in terms of reaching goals, maintaining friendships and expanding networks.”

Research: encouraging you to think beyond your own discipline

“Some of the most high-profile humanities research produced today is conducted at Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty. These faculty members are among a handful worldwide who can lay claim to such a depth and breadth of academic expertise. One example is our centre of excellence on Native American cultures, languages and history – a research group that is one of the best in the world. At Leiden, we can offer students expertise in most niche areas of interest. Our faculty members often work together across disciplines, and encourage students to think beyond the limits of their own discipline, which is where the future of innovative research lies.”

Careers: opportunities to develop your talent

Decisions made during your studies have a big impact on your future. We offer you many opportunities to develop your talents both within and outside of the classroom, including internships, study trips abroad, student committees, and minors. These opportunities help define your objectives for after your studies, and equip you with additional skills and experience.”

We use cookies. Read the terms and conditions.