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Cultural Studies


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague takes about 45 minutes.


Culture plays an important role in how social groups (societies, communities, regions) and individuals understand themselves and the world; more specifically, culture is understood as the practices and activities through which people give meaning to the world, their community and themselves. So how can we understand and analyze these practices and activities? How can we gauge their relation to other social and individual domains and activities such as politics, economics and technological changes? And how has the emergence of a globalized world impacted the way we understand culture, cultural transference and the specificity of culture?

Cultural Studies offers students an overview of the most important theoretical and historical approaches to studying culture, cultural transference and cultural representation. During the course students will come to understand that culture is never monolithic and is always in flux: studying the difference between elite and mass culture, between high art and lowbrow entertainment, you will learn how you can study both high and low, both elite and mass culture to understand a society and its specificity. The course focuses on the present situation. Special emphasis will be on the relation of culture to economics, politics and technology.

Course objectives

By the end of the course:

  • students can recognize and recall the most important discussions on the nature and impact of culture;

  • students can accurately explain in their own words how culture relates to economics, politics or to technology according to the major theories in the field of cultural studies;

  • students can correctly define the most important methods and concepts within the field of Cultural Studies; and

  • they can apply these concepts and methods to describe the interaction between culture, politics, technology and economics in a cultural object of their own choosing.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every two weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 24 hours

  • Attending tutorials: 12 hours

  • Assessment hours (midterm and final exam): 4 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: (approximately 7 pages per hour): 50 hours

  • Preparing for tutorials: 25 hours

  • Preparing for exams: 20 hours

  • Other components: 5 hours

Assessment method


  • Tutorials: Collaborative writing assignments (+/- 1.500 words, in groups of three students), a Seminar Presentation (same group of three students and same topic as the collaborative writing assignment) and Participation in the tutorials (see tutorial guidelines for details).

  • Midterm exam: Written examination with three open essay questions

  • Final exam: 30 Multiple choice questions with four possible answers and 3 open questions.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of tutorial, midterm exam and final exam.

  • The weighted average of the midterm exam and final exam needs to be 5.5 or higher.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), or the weighted average of midterm- and final exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier midterm and final exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the resit exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • Chris Barker & Emma A. Jane, Cultural Studies. Theory and Practice (Fifth Edition). London: Sage, 2016.

  • Selected Readings available through blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

The student administration will register all first year students for the first semester courses in uSis, the registration system of Leiden University.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For tutorials
Dr. B.K. Ieven

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.