Universiteit Leiden

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Literary Studies (research) (MA)

About the programme

Learn the newest insights from the researchers who uncover them.

The two-year master's programme in Literary Studies (research) at Leiden University consists of core courses, interdisciplinary and disciplinary seminars, research seminars and an MA thesis.

Semester 1

The first semester starts with the LUCAS Seminar ‘Cultural Theory for the 21st Century’, which offers an overview of theoretical approaches developed in this MA programme, and of the research interests of the staff. It is compulsory for all students in the Research MA programmes in Arts and Culture and Literary Studies. Parallel to this course you choose an interdisciplinary (period-bound) and a disciplinary seminar (in one of the domains).

In the first year – preferably in the first semester – you will need to take a 5 EC course within one of the national research schools.

Semester 2

Whereas the first semester presented a basic and disciplinary course for art history students, the second semester offers the interdisciplinary framework via the course ‘Methodological Concepts in Art and Literature’ (contemporary) or the Core Course Medieval and Early Modern Studies . This semester also contains an interdisciplinary (period-bound) and a disciplinary seminar.

Semester 3

The third semester offers an obligatory thesis seminar and research colloquium, which prepares you for writing your thesis. You again take two elective seminars. They can also opt to follow these electives at a university abroad or choose an internship in an affiliated Department, Museum, or other cultural institution in Europe or the United States. We have Erasmus and other exchange agreements with many European and American Universities.

Semester 4

The fourth semester is largely filled by writing your Research Master’s thesis. In the second year – preferably in the second semester – the students are again obliged to take a 5 EC course within one of the national research schools of their choice.

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Internship options
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports and final thesis
  • Oral presentations

Anthonya Visser

Professor of German Language and Literature

Anthonya Visser

“Literary Studies at Leiden University is unique primarily because of its interdisciplinary nature. Students are invited to choose their own specialisation, such as an approach to a specific issue or a particular topic.”

Yra van Dijk

Professor of Dutch Literature in a Global Perspective

Yra van Dijk

"In the MA, students arrive on another level, where they take themselves and their academic work more seriously. At that point, it motivates them (and myself) to explore together what the study of literature can bring them, as much as what they can bring to Literary Studies. Finding your discipline and deepening your knowledge is an amazing process of self-discovery, personally and professionaly."


"To prepare students for the job market, we have an ongoing conversation about what lays ahead. Once students really know their ambitions, I can bring them in contact with my network in the field of journalism, literature and in the academy, in order to find positions from editor at a Publishing House to PhD-positions."

Critical thinkers

"I turn my students into critical thinkers by letting them read crucial texts and taking time to discuss them together, asking them to weekly write essays with feedback. Most of all: they learn to critically analyse and interpret literary texts as being revelatory of the most painful truths in society."

Research & academic rigour

All courses are taught by academics who are active researchers. Content is regularly updated to reflect  research conducted by lecturers on the programme. The academically-rigorous design of the programme aims to develop in you essential skills in reasoning and critical thinking. An important focus of this programme is teaching you how to independently conduct scientific research and develop this data into an academic thesis.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, please 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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