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Cultural Studies


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


One often hears the complaint that ‘cultural differences’ stand in the way of a frictionless communication between nations, and that they complicate processes of political, diplomatic and commercial negotiations. But what, exactly, is meant by this phrase? Indeed, what is ‘culture,’ and what would it mean to truly ‘understand’ a culture? This course offers an overview of different theoretical and historical approaches to culture and cultural representations. The assumption behind the course is that cultures are never monolithic – there are always tensions between elite and mass culture, between high art and lowbrow entertainment, and between what is available in the mainstream and what is produced by subcultures. The course focuses on the present situation. Special emphasis will be put on processes of globalization, urbanization, and the role of linguistic and non-linguistic communicative practices as the carriers and expression of cultural identities, and the role of new electronic media in the production and dissemination of cultural products.

Course objectives

Students will

  • learn to understand culture as a dynamic field;

  • gain insight in current discussions in the field of cultural studies and sociolinguistics;

  • learn to apply concepts and methods developed in these fields in their analyses of cultural phenomena;

  • develop the cultural-analytical skills.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture every week.
One two hour tutorial every three weeks.

Assessment method

Writing assignments (30%), exam (70%)


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

  • Chris Barker, Cultural Studies; Theory and Practice (Fourth Edition) (London: Sage, 2012);

  • Mesthrie, Swann, Deumert and Leap, Introducing Sociolinguistics (Second Edition) (Edinburgh: University Press 2009)


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable