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English Language and Culture

The bachelor programme English language and culture consists of four main subjects: Philology, Literature, Linguistics and Language Acquisition. The duration of the BA programme is three years and equals 180 EC. Those 180 EC are divided as follows: 140 EC for the main subject, 30 EC counts towards the minor and the remaining 10 EC for two general subjects called the core curriculum (Philosophy of Science and Introduction to Linguistics).

In the first year of the programme (the propedeuse) there are no optional courses. In the second year most of the programme is obligatory, although students can specialise in a certain field of Literature and Philology. The core curriculum courses are also to be completed in this year. In the third year, Language Acquisition 5 and 6 are obligatory; in addition students choose their specialisation. The bachelor thesis is written in the second semester of the third year. Additionally, students are able to choose a minor or can e.g. take an internship.

First year

The first year (propaedeuse) of the bachelor’s programme consists entirely of courses in the main subjects.

The propaedeuse comprises courses that provide a general overview to orient you to the study of English. The four main subjects of Philology, Literature, Linguistics and Language Acquisition are taught in both semesters in the form of lectures, seminars and language laboratories. The lectures provide the big picture, while the seminars address specific topics and use texts to explore these.

Alongside the lectures and seminars, mentoring is a compulsory part of the propaedeuse. Here you receive more information on matters such as how the programme works. Within the framework of the mentoring, you also follow the research skills course at the Expertise Centre for Academic Skills (EAV).

The propaedeuse ends with a propaedeutic exam. You must pass (a mark of 6.0 or higher) all the components to pass the propaedeutic exam.

Extra teaching hours are scheduled for the entire propaedeuse: six hours for the introduction day and a one-hour introductory meeting/progress meeting with the coordinator of studies. In addition, a question and answer session is held at the end of each semester for each course to prepare you for the exams.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Language Acquisition 1: From Scratch to Print 5
Linguistics 1: Analyzing English Sounds and Words 5
Literature 1A: Introduction to Literary Studies in English 10
Literature 1B: The Classical and Christian Legacies in Literatures in English 5
Philology 1: Introduction to Middle English Language and Literature 5
BA English: Mentoring Sessions 0

Second semester

Language Acquisition 2: The Spoken Word 5
Linguistics 2: English Phonetics and Syntax 10
Literature 2: English Literature, ca. 1550-1700 5
Philology 2: Introduction to Old English Language and Literature 10

Second year

All four main subjects are covered in the second year (semesters three and four). In this year, you also follow two series of compulsory lectures and the core curriculum courses.

You have a number of options this year. In Literature you can specialise in American or British Literature. The options you choose in the first semester does not influence the options you have in the second semester. In the second semester you can also specialise within Philology in one of two possible periods.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Core Curriculum: Introduction to Linguistics 5
Language Acquisition 3: Grammar in Writing 5
Language and Linguistics: Tools and Methods 5
Linguistics 3: The Syntax of English: Present and Past 5
Philology 3: History of the English Language 5

Specialisation Literature 3

Literature 3A: American Literature, Beginnings to 1865 5
Literature 3B: British Literature in the Long Eighteenth Century 5

Second semester

Core: Philosophy of science 5
English-Language Popular Culture 5
Language Acquisition 4: Appropriate and Inappropriate Language: Dimensions of Text Analysis 5
Linguistics 4: The Phonology of English 5

Specialisation Literature 4:

Literature 4A: American Literature, 1865-1917: The Age of Realism 5
Literature 4B: British Literature: The Nineteenth Century 5

Specialisation Philology 4

Philology 4A: Highlights of Medieval English Literature 5
Philology 4B: Early Modern Everyday English 5

Third year

The third year is as follows:

Compulsory courses:

  • Language Acquisition 5

  • Language Acquisition 6

In addition, you choose one 10 EC specialisation in the first semester (in exceptional cases in the second semester) from:

  • Philology: one 10 EC course

  • Literature: one 10 EC course

  • Linguistics: one 10 EC cousre

In addition, you choose a minor and/or can do a placement or choose an individual package of electives worth 30 EC, which is distributed across both semesters. For more information, see the relevant course description.

You also write a bachelor’s thesis in the third year. For more information see the course description and the website of the English programme.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Minor or Electives BA Engels 15
Language Acquisition 5: Theories and Research Methods in Applied Linguistics 5

Specialisation Philology 5

Philology 5A: Old English Literature and Culture 10
Philology 5B: Late Modern English 10

Specialisation Literature 5

Literature 5A: American Literature, 1917 to the present 10
Literature 5B: Anglo-American Modernism 10
Literature 5D: Introduction to American Film 10

Specialisation Linguistics 5

Linguistics 5B: English Words and Phrases: Structure and Interaction 10

Second semester

Minor or Electives BA Engels 15
Language Acquisition 6: Dimensions of Composition and Text Analysis 5
BA Thesis English Language and Culture 10

Specialisation Philology 6

Philology 6: Middle English Literature and Culture 10

Specialisation Literature 6

Literature 6: Contemporary Literatures in English 10

Specialisation Linguistics 6

Linguistics 6A: Language Change 10
Linguistics 6B: Abbreviation in Digital Language 10


Instead of a minor, you can choose your own package of electives. This can comprise courses from your own (deepening) or another (broadening) programme.

If you are studying English Language and Culture and want to put together a deepening package of optional courses, you can choose from the courses below (except for those courses that are part of the regular curriculum). You can register through uSis but must first have your chosen package approved by the coordinator of studies and the Board of Examiners. For the latter, see the procedure on the website under electives.

If you are studying another programme, you must first contact the coordinator of studies to discuss the possibilities and how to register.

The coordinator of studies can also help you put together a deepening or broadening package of electives.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

English Linguistics

Semester 1

Semester 2

British Literature

Semester 1

Semester 2

History of the English language and literature

Semester 1

Philology 1: Introduction to Middle English Language and Literature 5
Philology 5A: Old English Literature and Culture 10

Semester 2

Philology 2: Introduction to Old English Language and Literature 10
Philology 6: Middle English Literature and Culture 10

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in English Language and Culture

The programme

The curriculum of English Language and Culture offers you a multi-faceted programme in which you’ll study the language in all its varieties, from Old English, through its intermediate stages, down to the many different forms of the language currently in use. You’ll also be studying British and American literature in their cultural-historical context.
How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and why? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you’d like to do after graduation?
These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.


You will be notified via the Humanities website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

First year

Second year

Third year

Study abroad

Studying abroad is a great way to broaden your horizons. It’s beneficial for both your academic and personal development. Not only will you gain new experiences, but you’ll also learn to get by in a different environment. A period of study abroad is an asset on your CV. With the increasing internationalisation of job markets, many employers regard international experience as a real advantage.

Exchange programmes

Exchange programmes offer an easy way to study abroad. You’ll study at a university that has an agreement with Leiden University and, in return, a student from that university will come to study here.

You can apply for a spot through two different programmes:

  1. Erasmus+ with partner universities within Europe
  2. University-wide exchange programme with partner universities outside Europe

More information? Please check this website on studying abroad.


Harting is a selective programme that offers ambitious students of English language and culture with good grades an opportunity to study a full academic year in Britain or Ireland. Participating universities include Newcastle University, University College London, University of Southampton, University of York, University College Dublin and the National University of Ireland Galway. For more information about the programme or the selection procedure, please contact Dr. Michael Newton. More information can also be found on this website.

Summer and winter schools

Summer and winter schools are short programmes that you can follow during the holidays, which means your studies won’t be effected. Some summer and winter schools award credits, others don’t. In general, you will have to pay a fee.
More information? Please check this website on studying abroad.

Other options

Going abroad independently:

Instead of going on exchange, you could choose to go abroad independently. This is an option if you want to go to a destination that doesn’t have an exchange agreement with Leiden University, or if you missed out on an exchange place.


An internship or research project abroad is not only a fun and educational experience, it's also a great asset to your CV. As job markets are becoming increasingly international, employers tend to view international experience as a big advantage. Read more about how to arrange an internship or project abroad.

More information? Please check this website on studying abroad.


Are you a Leiden University student (thinking of) studying in the UK? On this webpage you can find out more about the impact of Brexit for current and prospective EU students of Leiden University studying abroad in the UK.

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your studies you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but that you are also aware of any general skills you have gained in the process and the further skills you still want to acquire. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of English Language and Culture include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.
The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

  • Doing research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

The BA English programme does not include any courses that specifically prepare for the job market. For all that, you will encounter all the above-mentioned skills in the courses you will be taking. You just need to identify them, but they are all there. In addition, there is the possibility for students to do internships (for credits): these will give you a good idea about particular sectors on the job market you might be interested in – or not, as the case maybe. Find out more about this on the website of the Leiden University Career Zone (see link above), but we will also announce placement offers on the English Language and Culture Facebook page.

And then there are a number of job related minors, such as the educational minor (if you want to be a teacher), or the translation minor (if translation is something you are interested in), but there are various others as well. You will find a full list here. So, plenty of opportunities for you to prepare for a career after you finish you studies!

Two more tips: read the report on the 2016 employment survey our Faculty’s career service produced, and join the university’s mentor network. There are a lot of people in the network very eager to help you find your way onto the job market. They specifically joined the network to help people like you!


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your coordinators of studies.

More info


Learning outcomes of the programme

Bachelor’s in English Language and Culture:

  • possess general knowledge of and insight into English Language and Culture, that is to say knowledge of (a) the system and global historic development of the English language, (b) the development of English literature in a cultural-historical perspective, and (c) an active (writing, speaking) knowledge of the English language at CEFR level C1 and a passive (reading, listening) knowledge of the English language at CEFR level C2;

  • are able, on the basis of the acquired knowledge and insight, to develop a correct, well-argued and critical oral and written report of the current status of topics within one or more areas of English Language and Literature and draw sound conclusions from the findings;

  • are able, in one or more areas of English Language and Culture, to collect and interpret relevant data based on the specialist literature studied and the application of common methods and terms from the discipline, with the aim of forming a judgment on the topic that they have studied;

  • are able to communicate, orally and in writing, information, ideas and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences;

  • possess such knowledge and skills concerning the discipline of English Language and Culture that they can be considered able to apply these in the performance of employment for which a degree in English Language and Culture is necessary or useful.

At the end of the three-year degree programme, bachelor’s students also possess skills and knowledge that are further tailored to their field of specialisation. For more details see:

Binding Study Advice (BSA)

For further information on the BSA Regulation and the associated study guidance plan, see:
Please note: the course Language Acquisition 1: From Scratch to Print is an additional requirement to the BSA.

The programme

The English Language and Culture programme has four specialisations: Philology, Literature, Linguistics and Language Acquisition.

First year: propaedeuse
The first year of the bachelor’s programme consists of mentoring and courses in the main subjects, i.e. the above disciplines. All full-time students also take part in the compulsory mentoring.

In the first year, you are assigned to a mentor group that has two student-mentors. In addition, two lecturer-mentors supervise the mentoring. The lecturer-mentors are generally also lecturers in one of your seminars or lectures. The student-mentors are students from the more advanced years of the bachelor’s programme.

The mentor group is identical to the seminar group and the meetings are scheduled in the timetable. In the different mentor meetings, you can ask informal questions about various topics associated with studying. You also learn about important matters such as how to avoid plagiarism. The student-mentors can help you by sharing their own experiences, and can also show you around the University and city. There is also time for social activities to help you get to know the other students better outside classes.

If you receive negative study advice in January, you follow a compulsory course provided by EAV in the second semester. This helps you improve your study skills. You will receive further information about this from study coordinator before the second semester.

Second year
Most departments expect you to meet certain conditions before you can take their second-year courses. If you have not met all the requirements for the propaedeuse, take good note of the entry requirements for the second-year courses. In the second year, you also look at how to develop your study plan, which is compulsory from the second year.

In both semesters of the second year, you follow compulsory courses in the four main subjects. You also follow two culture courses that span the main subjects. Within Literature you can choose American or British literature in the first and second semester. In the second semester of Philology, you can choose one of two specialisations. You have to decide which options you will choose before the start of the semester. You do so in your study plan and register through uSis.

In the second year, you also follow the Introduction to Literary Theory and Philosophy of Science courses together with students from other Humanities programmes.

Third year
In the third year, you can specialise in one of the courses (10 EC total) offered by the different departments. In addition, you follow the compulsory Language Acquisition course in both semesters. You write your bachelor’s thesis in the second semester and attend a compulsory thesis seminar.

You also need to earn 30 EC of elective credits in your third year.

Mandatory attendance
Seminar attendance is compulsory. You may miss a maximum of two of the 13 meetings per subject (if you have a valid reason and provided younotify the lecturer and the study coordinator before the seminar that you will miss). If you have not prepared, do not participate and/or fail to bring the course material for a particular week, this may also count as absence.

If you miss more than two seminars, you must contact the study coordinator. If the study coordinator believes there are special circumstances, they may decide that the maximum two absences do not apply. The study coordinator will consult your lecturer(s) and inform you and your lecturer(s) of their decision.

If you fail to meet the attendance requirement, you will be excluded from attending the course. This may mean that you will not receive a final mark or that your final mark will be a fail for the participation or presentation part, for example, and/or any other exams that you sit during the seminar.

Please note: if you have been absent for a valid reason, you may still be barred from attending the course if it is likely that you will no longer be able to successfully complete the course. This could be if you have missed important deadlines or have simply missed too many meetings.

You may request an exemption from apply to the Board of Examiners for exemption from a course on the basis of a previously completed equivalent course, with one exception: no exemptions are granted for Language Acquisition courses. For the procedure, please contact the teaching administration and/or coordinator of studies.

Exam resits
Each course provides an explanation of the form of examination and any resits.
You must always resit any exams for which your final mark is a fail (that is to say, lower than 5.5). In principle, you may not resit exams that you have passed, with the following exception:

You may resit a passed exam or partial exam three times during your entire bachelor’s degree programme. You must take the resit in the same academic year in which you passed the exam or partial exam that you are resitting.
You must submit a request to the Board of Examiners in good time if you wish to resit a passed exam or partial exam.


In the third year of the bachelor’s programme, you have a 30 EC (15 EC per semester) of discretionary/elective space. For more information see: []

Full-time and part-time

The Bachelor’s degree programme in English Language and Culture is a full-time or part-time programme. The description of the part-time programme can be found in this e-Prospectus.

Bachelor’s thesis and graduation requirements

To graduate, you must have passed the programme of 180 EC, met the requirements for the elective credits and successfully completed your bachelor’s thesis.

The bachelor’s thesis is a paper worth 10 EC. It must tie in with a second- or third-year course (not an introductory course). You develop two possible topics and submit these to the Board of Examiners before the start of the semester in which you will write the thesis. The Board of Examiners appoints a supervisor for one of the two topics. The supervisor then helps you write a thesis proposal, which you submit to the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners uses the thesis application form to evaluate your proposal and appoints a second reader. Then you attend a compulsory thesis seminar. For more information, see the course description for the third year.

The regulations and important deadlines for the BA thesis can be found at:

Subsequent degree programmes

A Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture grants you direct access to the one-year Master’s programme in Linguistics, English Language and Linguistics track, or the one-year Master’s programme in Literary Studies, English Language and Culture track. If you hold a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture and have completed the minor in Translation, you have direct access to the one-year Master’s programme in Linguistics, Translation in Theory and Practice track, but will have to request admission.

Depending on your results, you may also be granted access to a two-year research master’s programme, for instance Literary Studies or Linguistics. You can also apply for admission to another related master’s programme such as the Master’s programme in Media Studies, Book and Digital Media Studies track, or the Master’s programme in Linguistics, Language and Communication track, or the Master’ s programme in North American Studies.

After graduating from the one-year Master’s programme in English Literature and Culture or English Language and Linguistics, you may wish to train as a secondary-school teacher. You can choose to follow the Master’s degree in Education at ICLON (one year full-time, two years part-time), which qualifies you to teach in all types of secondary education. If you have followed the Minor in Education during your bachelor’s degree (only possible if you pass the first and second year) and have already earned a master’s degree, you can follow the shorter teaching training programme (30 EC instead of 60 EC).

For more information on the various master’s programmes and the application procedure, see: