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Culture Studies for Translators


Admission requirements

Students should be sufficiently proficient in English and Dutch. This course is part of the minor Translation and cannot be taken separately.


Why do Albanians have 27 different words for moustache? Why is there no word for “understatement” in the Dutch language? Whatever the answer to these questions may be, it can surely not be denied that language is inextricably bound up with culture. There are countless examples of concepts in one language that simply do not exist in the other, such as the British phenomenon of “opting-out schools”, or concepts that have no exact equivalent in other languages, like the Dutch word “notaris”, or the American word “ranger”. The above are just a few xamples to illustrate the problems a translator has to tackle every day. In order to be able to produce correct and readable translations, a translator must have a comprehensive knowledge not only of the source and target languages themselves, but also of the cultures of both the source and target language. In this course, you will not only learn many things about the United Kingdom and the United States, but you will also learn how to apply your knowledge about the cultures of the Netherlands, the UK and the US to translation problems that may result from cultural differences between these countries.

Course objectives

  • comprehensive knowledge of American and British culture

  • insight into the differences between source and target cultures

  • ability to apply the above knowledge and insight in translations, and tackle translation problems resulting from differences between source and target cultures


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

The course load of this course is 140 hours.

  • 28 hours: attending seminars;

  • 70 hours: studying compulsory literature;

  • 42 hours: preparation for the exam and/or assignments (including reading / research)

Assessment method

  • written examination (including essay questions)

If the final grade is 5 or less students may resit the exam.

Attendance is compulsory. Unauthorized absence will mean that you cannot take part in the relevant exam(s).


There will be a Blackboard module for the course, which contains relevant course information such as the weekly reading and assignments. Since Blackboard makes use of umail for communication, students are advised to forward their umail to their regular email address:

Reading list

  • Reader Culture Studies for Translators. Blackboard

  • Oakland, John. (2013) American Civilization. New York: Routledge. (6th edition)

  • Oakland, John. (2015) British Civilization. London: Routledge. (8th edition)


Enrollement trough uSis is mandatory.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


English Language and Culture student administration, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Coordinator of studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.


Routledge, the publisher of American Civilization and British Civilization, regularly publishes new editions. You are recommended to buy the latest edition available.