Universiteit Leiden

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Literary Studies (MA)

Career prospects

Create new opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University.

Where do our graduates work?

Because of the extensive curriculum and specialisations, the career opportunities after completing the Master's programme in Literary Studies are broad. Our graduates have landed jobs in various sectors of the job market, such as education, communication and marketing, government and cultural institutions. Examples of the diverse roles of our graduates include:

  • Language teacher
  • Author
  • Content marketeer
  • Speech writer

Laura den Boer

Graduated in French Literature and Culture (MA Literary Studies)

Laura den Boer

"I very much enjoyed doing the Master’s in French Literature and Culture of the Literary Studies degree programme. I chose this master’s because the selection of subjects on offer appealed to me enormously."

Personal

"I took the master’s together with a small group of students, which encouraged me to take an active role in the tutorial discussions. Taking part in the discussions helped to improve my French oral skills, as well as giving me personal contact with the teachers."

A teaching position

"After my master’s I am going to work in Lille for 6 months, where I will be a language assistant in a secondary school, helping French pupils with their Dutch. After those 6 months I plan to do the Educational Master’s in French Literature and Culture, which will afterwards hopefully provide me with a teaching position in a Dutch secondary school, in which I will be able to apply the knowledge I have gained during my French studies. In all, the degree programme at Leiden has given me a superb grounding for a job in education, because studying the many and varied subjects allowed me to acquire interesting and in-depth knowledge."

Ratna Lachmansingh

Graduated from the MA Literary Studies

Ratna Lachmansingh

Lachmansingh’s love for film runs deep. As a student, she wrote all her papers and theses on films – even though her degree was actually in Literary Studies. ‘During my gap year after high school, I went with a friend to a lecture by Frans Willem Korsten. He asked us to write down who we were. Then he said, “You probably wrote down your name, your age and your study programme, but those things aren’t what you are.” I thought that was wonderful, but also crazy. This was Literary Studies, wasn’t it? So why was it about identity? Then I started looking more closely at the curriculum.’

The Literary Studies programme turned out to be broader than she expected. ‘Through books, films and paintings, you have the chance to look at biology, philosophy, economics. I thought it was fantastic to be able to study society in this way and not have to choose just one subject. This was even encouraged.” In Lachmansingh’s case, that meant a thesis on horror films, like Night of the Living Dead, The Fly and Alien Resurrection. ‘It was so much fun!’ 

Alongside her studies, she was also involved in film. She soon started volunteering at what was then called the Leids Filmfestival. ‘It was a kind of exploration of what I was good at and what I enjoyed. It turned out that I really liked production: making sure that everything works out fine.’ 

Lachmansingh was eventually advanced to the position of general director of the Leiden International Film Festival (LIFF). ‘It’s interesting to think more broadly about the festival. Who are we? Where do we want to go? And what do we need to achieve it?’

The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA Literary Studies 2016-2020.

In which sectors do students find jobs?

  • 36 % Education
  • 14 % Communication and marketing
  • 9 % Government and semi-government organisations
  • 8 % IT
  • 6 % Financial institutions
  • 5 % Publishing
  • 5 % Media and journalism
  • 3 % Research
  • 3 % Consultancy
  • 3 % Business services
  • 8 % Other

Teacher qualification

If you are interested in a career in teaching, you can apply for the Dutch-taught teacher-training MA at the ICLON Graduate School of Education after graduating from the master’s programme. To be admitted, you need to have a master’s degree in the  relevant discipline. Fluency in Dutch is mandatory, and additional entry requirements may apply.

Career preparation

Find out how this programme prepares you for your future career and check our career preparation activities.

The Master's programme in Literary Studies at Leiden University equips you with a range of transferable skills and knowledge that will help you stand out in your future career. Your specialised knowledge is complemented by a broad and contextual understanding as well as critical-thinking skills that can be applied to complex conceptual problems. Other skills you may encounter in the various Literary Studies courses are:

  • Analysis
  • Oral and written communication
  • Research
  • Intercultural skills
  • Creative thinking

You have the opportunity to do an internship at an organisation in the Netherlands or abroad. Internships are a great way to gain first-hand experience in your area of interest and deepen your expertise. Organisations that our students have interned at include:

  • Royal Library The Hague, Koopman Collection
  • Dutch Embassy in Paris
  • Royal Brill Editions

Please note that you will need to find your own internship and have to follow an internship procedure for approval. Pursuing an internship may have consequences for the date of your graduation.

The Literary Studies Career Colloquium enables you to actively prepare your future career by providing you with information and inspiration. This programme, specially tailored for Literary Studies students, consists of a series of meetings over the year on your personal profile, academic and practical skills. It includes two career events where you can meet professionals and alumni, in order to clarify your personal career prospects and start building your network.

Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.

The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities

The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.

Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!

Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network

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