Career Preparation in Linguistics
Career Preparation in Linguistics
The BA in Linguistics develops your knowledge on one of the most intriguing aspects of human knowledge and behaviour: language. Studying linguistics means learning about the fundamentals of human language, from its many sounds and sentence structures to the ways in which language influences how we think about the world.
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 and by 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:
Mentor Network with students and alumni
Leiden University actively seeks to prepare students for the labour market and wants to help young alumni at the start of their careers. For this we like to use the knowledge and experience of Leiden alumni. To bring these students and young alumni who have questions about their career in contact with experienced alumni, Leiden University has created the Mentor network.
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.
It is possible to go a semester abroad as a part of your bachelor’s in Linguistics. This is usually done in the third year of the programme. Please contact the coordinator of studies in time, because you will need to draw up an adjusted study plan.
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. Application deadline: 1 December in the academic year prior to the semester abroad.
2. University-wide exchange programme with partner universities outside Europe. Application deadline: 15 February in the academic year prior to the semester abroad.
More information? Please check this website on studying abroad.
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
conducting research, critical thinking and argumentation skills, intrapersonal skills such as creative thinking, self-directed learning and interpersonal skills such as effective communication, persuasion, and teamwork. In short: what you need to function well in a responsible position.
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.
- Learning objectives
- Binding Study Advice (BSA)
- Mandatory attendance
- First year: propedaedeutic phase
- Second and third year
- Elective choice
- Obligatory sequence
- Full-time and part-time
- BA thesis and graduation requirements
- Subsequent degree programmes
1. Learning objectives
Graduates of the bachelor’s in Linguistics:
have advanced knowledge, analytical skills and insight in the field of linguistics;
are able to investigate a well-defined problem independently or in collaboration with others in each of these areas;
are able to report clearly in an oral or written form;
can apply knowledge and insight in the field of linguistics in cognitive and / or computational analysis.
Please also consult the Course and examination regulations and the Faculty Regulations.
2. Binding Study Advice (BSA)
In the first year, the Linguistics program issues a Binding Study Advice (BSA). This means that you must have obtained a minimum number of crefdits to be allowed to proceed to the next academic year. Read more about the regulations on the BSA on the website
3. Mandatory attendance
Seminar attendance is compulsory. You may miss a maximum of two of the thirteen meetings per course (if you have a valid reason and provided you notify the lecturer before the seminar). If you miss more than two seminars, you must contact the study coordinator. Only if the study coordinator believes that special circumstances apply to your situation, you might be exempted from the mandatory attendance. The study coordinator will consult your lecturer(s) and inform you of their decision. An extra assignment can be given to compensate for the missed lectures.
4. First Year: Propaedeutic phase
The first year of the programme offers a broad orientation on the phenomenon of human language and the study of language and provides students insight into the diversity of languages. Students will learn about the various, including interdisciplinary, areas of linguistic research and be taught methodes of linguistic analysis. This way you can explore which track you want to specialise in.
During lectures and tutorials books and articles will be used that will, together with the discussed materials, explain the field of study and way of reasoning.Tutorials will also be used for requiring oral and written skills, practicing techniques en solving problems, individually as well as in small groups. This way you lay a solid foundation for the rest of your Bachelor programme.
During the second semester of your first year, students will select and follow two out of eight courses that relate to their chosen track. This choice is also based on the track that students will choose in their second and third year. Also consult the paragraph ‘Elective choices’
5. Second and third year
During your second and third year students will improve their research and general academic skills (such as analysis, writing and presenting). Students will take courses related to their chosen track. Four tracks are available from which students choose one:
Language and Cognition: Language is a system, and this system is what we study in linguistics. In the Language and Cognition track, we explore language models that try to explain how language is represented in the brain, how children develop language systems and how brain damage can affect these systems. This track touches on numerous research fields such as psychology, neuroscience and computer science.
Taal en Communicatie (only taught in Dutch): People mainly use language to inform, entertain or convince. Yet whilst we know it has a functional use, which principles and rules do people apply when they use language in this way? Taught in Dutch, the track Taal en Communicatie is about language in use, and explores the similarities and differences between languages and their associated cultures. This track also looks at the way in which linguistic and non-linguistic communication interacts, and how culture plays an important role.
Descriptive Linguistics: All languages have a grammatical structure, but of the roughly six thousand languages in the world, only about five hundred have been documented to a reasonable extent. Thousands of languages are still waiting for an eager linguist to discover and document their structures before they are lost to extinction. Many others are currently spoken by vast numbers of people yet remain undocumented. Descriptive Linguistics focuses on this important and highly relevant aspect of the linguistics field.
Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: Indo-European was spoken more than five thousand years ago by people who probably lived north of the Black Sea. Languages such as Sanskrit, Greek and Latin originate from this language, as do Dutch, English, French and Russian. Yet the Indo-Europeans did not leave behind any written sources. In Comparative Indo-European Linguistics, we try to reconstruct the language of the Indo-Europeans by learning, analysing and comparing many different languages.
6. Elective choice
Next to the compulsory courses within each track, students have a lot of freedom to design their own programme with the elective choices on offer. Electives within the different tracks can be used for other tracks as well. Please consult the programme of the track of your choice to read more about the possibilities.
The choice starts in the second semester of the first year. You then choose two preparatory courses for the track that starts in the second year. These first year’s courses are meant as an orientation on the tracks:
Psycholinguistics | Language and Cognition
Experimental phonetics | Language and Cognition
Word and meaning | Descriptive Linguistics
Structure course Non-western Languages (Quechua) | Descriptive Linguistics
Lithuanian | Comparative Indo-European Linguistics
Gothic | Comparative Indo-European Linguistics
Argumenteren en overtuigen | Taal & Communicatie
Word and meaning | Taal & Communicatie
Please note: In order to complete a track, it is mandatory to have successfully completed the correct preparatory courses belonging to this track!
Half of your third year is discretionary space (30 EC, 15 EC per semester): you can choose to do an internship, follow a fixed minor programme, or creating and following a personalised ‘study package’ comprising electives from another programme. For more information about the discretionary space click here.
7. Obligatory Sequence
Be aware that some courses can only be attended after succesful completion of a previous course in the programme. The obligatory sequence can be found in the Course and examination regulations
8. Full-time and Part-time
The bachelor Linguistics programme is fulltime.
9. BA thesis and graduation requirements
To be able to graduate students need to have obtained 180 EC, meet the requirements of their track and discretionary space and, as part of their programme, have succesfully finished their BA thesis. In order to graduate within one of the four tracks, the two corresponding preparatory courses from the first year must also be completed.
Students are free to choose the subject of their thesis, as long as this is related to their track. The BA thesis is the largest and most important assignment of the bachelor's programme. It is a written report of research carried out by the student under the supervision of one of his lecturers and serves as the final and concluding assignment of his degree. In general the thesis contains a maximum of 10.000 words (including footnotes, bibliography and attachments). The regulations and procedures concerning the BA thesis can be found here.
10. Subsequent degree programmes
If you successfully complete the bachelor’s in Linguistics, you are eligible to choose one of the one-year master's in Linguistics that corresponds with the track of your BA (more information). Depending on your results, you may also be granted access to a two-year research master’s programme in Linguistics at Leiden University (more information).
Certain master’s programmes have additional admission requirements which can be met by taking a specific minor in the third year of your linguistics programme, possibly with a pre-master's programme. For more information about the different master's programmes and the application procedures, click here.