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Core: Research Methods in Linguistics


This course is only open to students of the Research Master in Linguistics.


Linguistics represents a single discipline to the extent that it shares a single object of analysis, but is otherwise quite heterogeneous. Linguists affiliate with fields as divergent as logics, anthropology, biology, mathematics, and archaeology - to name but a few disciplines that are ‘neighbours’ to linguistics. This has given rise to a situation where creative synergies between linguists of various subdisciplines and scholars of other disciplines have lead to exciting new collaborations and innovations in methodologies.

The linguistic research carried out at Leiden University reflects a rich variety of subdisciplines, each which their own methodologies - sometimes overlapping, sometimes contrasting. The aim of this course is to present the student with an overview of six subfields of linguistics that Leiden linguists work in and the methodologies they apply.

For 2017-2018 these are: Theoretical Linguistics, Experimental Linguistics, Language Acquisition, Historical Linguistics, Language in Society, and Language Use & Discourse Studies. (The methodology of Descriptive Linguistics is discussed in the core course in the second semester, Samples of Linguistic Structures.)

Each of these six subfields will be introduced in a 2-weeks block, by a leading Leiden scholar who discusses a seminal work in their own subfield, paying particular attention to the methodology applied. There will be two 2-hour lectures per week, one on Monday, the other on Friday. In each block, students will do one assignment to apply the methodology discussed. In addition to the readings selected by the lecturers, students study a number of chapters from a textbook.

Course objectives

In this course, students learn

  • the various research methods employed in Linguistics

  • the variety of linguistic subfields present in Leiden, and the scholars who work in these fields

  • how to recognize the methodology that has been applied in seminal papers

  • how to apply the methodologies through practical research assignments


Linguistics research

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total time: 280 hours

Of which:

  • Classes: 50 h

  • Preparation of classes; reading compulsory literature: 6 blocks x 20 h = 120 h

  • Preparing assignments: 6 assignments x 15 h = 90 h

  • Preparing final examination: 20 h

Assessment method

Six assignments throughout the course (one for each block). All blocks are obligatory.
In the last class there will be a written examination.
The final mark for the course is the average of all marks.
Only assignments with marks below 6 can be sat again.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used to share literature and to submit assignments

Reading list

Readings will be distributed during the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Prof. dr. M.A.F. Klamer

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk