Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
The Leiden University research master’s programme in Linguistics provides intensive and comprehensive training covering the entire range of present-day linguistic research. The end of the 20th century witnessed a return of the interest in the diversity of human languages in virtually all existing approaches to linguistics. While descriptive, historical, and anthropological linguists have traditionally emphasised the variability of languages, scholars working in structuralist traditions aiming to uncover specific linguistic universal themes have also recognised the challenge posed by the immense variation between and within languages, and have started to develop theories and methods in attempts to meet it. Students in the research masters Linguistics programme receive education and training that introduces them to and prepares them for innovative research at the front line of present-day linguistic investigation along the lines presented above.
Completion of a research master’s degree in Linguistics qualifies graduates for the pursuit of a PhD research project. At the same time, graduates will have acquired good credentials for working as a consultant or employee for an international or governmental agency, multinational business enterprise or non-governmental organisation. Because of the unique curriculum of the programme and the research experience accrued, graduates are an asset to any undertaking in the areas of sustainable development, investigative journalism, social engineering, education planning, and human resource management in a multicultural and multilingual context.
Also see: http://hum.leiden.edu/students/regulations
Students need to earn 120 ECTS in total. The basic programme consists of three compulsory core courses, each worth 10 ECTS. Students also follow optional components for a total of 60 ECTS. The degree courses are completed with a thesis of 30 ECTS and a final examination. The thesis is a small-scale, original research project, submitted by the student as a contribution to scholarly debate. In principle, the thesis should be suitable for publication in a scientific journal.
Selection takes place by considering not only the final mark for the Bachelor’s thesis and the level of command of the English language, but several other aspects as well. Important factors are motivation and eagerness to carry out scientific research, as should be demonstrated in the documents required for the admission procedure and/or interview with the candidate.
All students admitted to the programme participate in a common set of courses providing them with the necessary foundations for further training and research, through confrontation with research methods and results in different approaches to linguistic diversity, presented by specialists in the field. By choosing a particular composition of courses within this common framework, a student may opt for an established or personalised study track, also aimed at a specific type of career. Tracks may also be characterised by special emphasis on the combination of studied languages.
ResMA thesis and requirements for graduation
In order to graduate, students must have completed 90 ECTS worth of courses and have written a research master’s thesis. The thesis needs to be written under the supervision of a lecturer affiliated with the LUCL (Leiden University Centre for Linguistics) and evaluated by the supervisor and a second reader (selected by the supervisor). It must show that the student is capable of analysing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. Moreover, this process must be recorded in an academically sound report. A research master’s thesis is worth 30 ECTS. It should consist of max. 30,000 words.
Choosing a Topic
Students should choose a supervisor and a general thesis area no later than at the end of the second semester. Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, based on a course that they followed. They should approach the relevant lecturer, discuss with him/her the chosen topic and potential research question, and ask for supervision. The supervisor, or ‘the first reader’, will point to relevant literature. A second reader is chosen in consultation with the supervisor. At this point, clear agreements should be made concerning the supervision procedure.
At the heart of a thesis lies a research question, together with the answer to that question. Before a research question can be formulated, the student first has to do some preparatory reading. Formulating the research question is one of the most important components of research because this question forms the basis for all further activities. Half the time reserved for writing a thesis should be spent on reading literature and formulating a research question.
Handing in the thesis
The first chapter is handed in to the supervisor and discussed. It is not advisable to hand in the entire thesis in one piece. Once the entire thesis is completed, the student should hand in three copies: one to each reader and one to the secretary (for the department’s archives). Their comments must be integrated into the final version.
In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:
• Formulating and analysing the research question;
• Structure of the thesis;
• Integration of secondary literature into the argument;
• Good formulation of student’s own arguments;
• Style, use of language and lay-out.
Also see: http://hum.leiden.edu/students/regulations
The Research track Language Change and Variation comprises courses that deal with language variation in both the present day and within a socio-historical context. For specific information about this track, please contact the track coordinator, Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, or +31 (0)71 527 2163.
The Research Track Descriptive Linguistics seeks to unify the questions and expertise in descriptive projects carried out in a wide variety of regions around the world. For specific information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinator Marian Klamer, or +31 (0)71 527 2783.
The Research Track Amerindian Linguistics combines the expertise in Leiden in the area of Amerindian Linguistics. For specific information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinator Willem Adelaar, or +31 (0)71 527 2511.
The Research track Formal Linguistics offers a research and training programme in the classical topics of formal linguistics. For specific information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinator Vincent van Heuven, or +31 (0)71 527 2319.
The Research Track Indo-European Linguistics capitalises on the world-renowned expertise in comparative Indo-European linguistics in Leiden. For more information on this track, please contact track co-ordinator Michiel de Vaan, or +31 (0)71 527 2051.
The Research track African Linguistics combines the expertise in Leiden on African Linguistics. For specific information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinator Maarten Kossmann, or +31 (0)71 527 2649.
The Research track Dutch Linguistics combines the expertise in Leiden on Dutch Linguistics. For specific information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinator Henrike Jansen, or +31 (0)71 527 2131.
The Research track English Linguistics capitalises on the spectrum of knowledge in English Linguistics in Leiden. For specific information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinators, Bert Botma, or +31 (0)71 527 2150; and Marion Elenbaas, or +31 (0)71 527 2957.
The Research track Romance Linguistics capitalises on the broad knowledge on Romance Linguistics in Leiden. For specific information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinator Jenny Doetjes, or +31 (0)71 527 2181.
The Research track Slavic Linguistics capitalises on the broad knowledge on Slavic linguistics in Leiden, for more information on this track, please contact the track co-ordinator Egbert Fortuin, or +31 (0)71 527 2075.