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MA Thesis Literary Studies (track Literature in Society. Europe and Beyond)


Admission requirements

Students can start work on their thesis once they have earned at least 20 EC for MA courses. But of course you may start thinking about a topic during first term.


In order to graduate, students must have completed 40 EC worth of courses and have written the master’s thesis, consisting of approximately 17,000 words. The thesis needs to be written under the supervision of a lecturer affiliated with the LUCAS (Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society) and evaluated by the supervisor and a second reader (selected by the supervisor and approved by the Exam Board). Students are free to choose their supervisor and suggest a thesis topic, as long as it fits the profile of ‘Literature in Society’ (for details, see ‘Choosing a topic’)

Aim of the Master’s Thesis

A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with the supervisor. The thesis must show that the student is capable of summarizing and analyzing existing literature in a critical manner, formulating one or more well-defined and motivated research questions and of conducting independent research.

The roles of the supervisor and the advisory board

‘Literature in Society’ has a small advisory commission consisting of three members of staff. It is there to advise you especially in the first stage about the choice of a topic and help you find the right supervisor. And also after that, if you have any general questions on contents.
Once you have found your supervisor, you will elaborate the specific topic and the research method with him/her and write your thesis under his/her direction.

Choosing a Topic and submitting it to the advisory board

Students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, in accordance with the profile of ‘Literature in Society’. This means that:
1) The topic has a directly or indirect relation with a social and/or political issue.
This does not mean that you should work on Realist, ‘politically involved’ texts. A Surrealist text or film is a work of imagination but as such, it was meant to play a political role. Or, to take another example, detective stories root in a new awareness of urban space.
2) Topics directly or indirectly related to the interactions of European and non-European literature are welcomed. This second point is not a must, but you may take it into account when thinking about a topic. It may, but does not necessarily mean involving postcolonial literature.

The first step is to submit a provisional outline (your ideas about a topic and a corpus) on Blackboard. The advisory board will evaluate your outline and advise you about a possible supervisor. The board will organize an information meeting at the start of each term.

Click here for the Blackboard course.

List of supervisors

Visit the instructors' profile pages for information about their fields of expertise.

Dr. Carmen van den Bergh Dr. Sara Brandellero Prof. dr. Yra van Dijk Dr. Bram Ieven Dr. Joke Kardux Dr. Evert Jan van Leeuwen Prof. dr. Peter Liebregts Dr. Johannes Müller Dr. Michael Newton Dr. Esther Op de Beek Dr. Sara Polak Dr. Ksenia Robbe Dr. Annelies Schulte Nordholt Dr. Nanne Timmer Prof. dr. Anthonya Visser

In case a student wishes to have another supervisor permission from the exam board is required.

Timeframe and deadlines

Students are expected to complete their MA thesis within one semester. When planning your thesis, bear in mind that instructors have limited time allowed to supervision, and that there will be no thesis supervision in July and August and between 24 December and 2 January.
To guide you through the process of writing your thesis, a detailed schedule has been set up, which can be found on the Blackboard course.
For students who wish to graduate at the end of the 1st semester or at the end of the 2nd semester, the thesis submission dates are the following:

Submit final Thesis proposal to the Board of Exams: 1st February vs. 1st July
Submit complete draft version of the thesis: 1st June vs. 1st December
Submit Submit final version to supervisor: 21st June vs. 21st December

Submitting the Thesis Proposal

Once the student has selected a topic, formulated a research question and put together a provisional bibliography, the Thesis Proposal form can be completed (see Thesis Proposal). The Thesis Proposal form should include the title of the thesis and a description of the topic. The form must be submitted to the Board of Examiners no later than three months before the planned graduation date (see the deadlines stated in the form). The Board will then inspect the thesis proposal to ensure that it is of an appropriate academic level.

Individual supervision meetings on your research and writing

Meetings with your supervisor will first be about making a plan for the structure of the thesis. With your supervisor, you will set up a schedule for handing in the planned chapters, one by one. During meetings you will receive feedback about each of them.

Handing in the Thesis

Once the thesis is approved by the supervisor, the final version can be sent to the second reader for assessment. The supervisor and second reader have four weeks in total to assess the thesis, in July and August they have two weeks extra. Check with your supervisor for guidelines regarding format of thesis lay-out and style of bibliographic references. For practical information on the thesis repository and the graduation procedure, see the see the graduation page


The supervisor and second reader decide together about the final grade. In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:

  • The originality of the research question

  • Formulating and analyzing the research question;

  • The critical analysis of source materials;

  • Integration of secondary literature into the argument;

  • Language use, structure and style;

  • The degree of independence displayed during the research and supervision process.