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Linguistics (Research): Structure and Variation in the Languages of the World

The Leiden University Research Master’s programme in Linguistics provides intensive and comprehensive training covering the entire range of present-day linguistic research.

Students need to earn 120 ECTS in total. The core programme consists of three compulsory core courses, each worth 10 ECTS. The core courses give a general overview of different linguistic disciplines and approaches.

In addition to the core programme a total of 60 ECTS needs to be obtained in one of the following ways:

  • Students who want to specialize in a subdiscipline offered by Leiden University, choose one of these tracks

  • Students who do not want to commit to a certain track, choose a free programme. They may choose any of the courses offered in the various tracks and/or any other linguistic courses in an MA programme (whether in Leiden or elsewhere; consult the websites and timetables of the programmes listed to the right). A free programme needs the prior approval of the Board of Examiners (contact coordinator Grace Rowicka for more information).

  • Students may arrange tutorials or small-scale classes (even individual instruction) worth 5 or 10 ECTS (subject to prior approval by the Board of Examiners). Students arrange tutorials by approaching the potential instructor(s) and consulting coordinator Grace Rowicka.

  • Students who follow courses at another university in the Netherlands or abroad need the prior approval from the Board of Examiners. The default upper limits on non-Leiden courses are 15 ECTS at another university in the Netherlands and 30 ECTS at universities abroad.

The programme is completed with a thesis of 30 ECTS.

Obligatory courses

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First year

Core: Approaches to Diversity 10
Core: Samples of Linguistic Structure I: Analysis 10
Core: Samples of Linguistic Structure II: Typology 5

Second year

MA Thesis Linguistics (RMA) 30

Tracks

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

African Linguistics

Berber Linguistics I + II 10
Language, Culture and Cognition 5
Tarifiyt Berber 5
Tashelhiyt Berber 5
African Language Structures I 5
African Language Structures II 5
Field Methods and Linguistic Analysis 5

Amerindian Linguistics

Linguistic Structures of Native America 10
World view and ritual 1 5
Field research or equivalent research activity 10
Andean Cultural History 5
Indigenous heritage in the Caribbean 5
Contemporary Native American Societies 5

Descriptive Linguistics

Linguistic Fieldwork 5
Berber Linguistics I + II 10
Language, Culture and Cognition 5
Tarifiyt Berber 5
Tashelhiyt Berber 5
Linguistic Area Study 10
Linguistic Structures of Native America 10
Field Methods and Linguistic Analysis 5
Linguistic Fieldwork 5

Dutch Linguistics

Strategische presentatie van argumentatie 10
Werkgroep Stilistiek 10
Brieven als buit: Op zoek naar de spreektaal van de gewone man en vrouw 10
De sturende kracht van taal: betekenis en communicatie 10
Retorisch vuurwerk in politiek Den Haag 10
Argumentatieve en retorische praktijken 10
Historische sociolinguïstiek: nieuwe bronnen, nieuwe benaderingen 10
Onderzoeksgroep Nederlands als Tweede Taal 10
Construction grammar and evolutionary linguistics 10

English Linguistics

Language Acquisition: Sociolinguistics 10
Linguistics: Historical English Phonology 10
Linguistics: Language Change: English and Beyond 10
Linguistics: Psycholinguistics: The acquisition and attrition of English as a first language 10
Language Acquisition: Language Shift, Maintenance, and Revitalisation 10
Linguistics: Topics in English Syntax 10

Formal Linguistics

Advanced Phonetics 10
Advanced Phonology 10
Advanced Semantics 10
Advanced Syntax 10
Elective: Analysis, Registration and Synthesis of Speech 5
Experimental Phonetics: Production, acoustics and perception of speech 5
Elective: Meaning between algebra and culture 10
History of Linguistics 5
Topics in Linguistics 1 10
Topics in Linguistics 2 10
Corpus Lexicography 10
Elective: Language Modeling: Exploiting Logical Form 10
Elective: Cognitive Neuroscience of Language 10
Elective: Microvariation: Phonology and Syntax 10
Elective: Morphological Theory 10
Elective: Statistics 5
Elective: Topics in Syntax-semantics 10
Field Methods and Linguistic Analysis 5
Topics in Linguistics 3 10
Topics in Linguistics 4 10

Indo-European Linguistics

Colloquium Capita Selecta I 5
Auxiliary subjects in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics
Klassiek Armeens 5
Colloquium Capita Selecta II 5
Auxiliary subjects in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics

Language Variation and Change

Brieven als buit: Op zoek naar de spreektaal van de gewone man en vrouw 10
Italiano (MA): L’italiano lingua d’Europa 10
Philology: Jane Austen's Language 10
Linguistics: Language Change: English and Beyond 10
Linguistics 4: Language and Society in Medieval Novgorod 10
Linguistic Structures of Native America 10
Language Acquisition: Sociolinguistics 10
Historische sociolinguïstiek: nieuwe bronnen, nieuwe benaderingen 10
Language Acquisition: Language Shift, Maintenance, and Revitalisation 10
Philology: The Language of Wills 10
Corpus Lexicography 10
Language Acquisition: Lend us a word: The lexicography and sociolinguistics of loanwords 10
Elective: Microvariation: Phonology and Syntax 10
Elective: Statistics 5

Slavic Linguistics

Linguistics 4: Language and Society in Medieval Novgorod 10
Overview of East-European Linguistics 10
Topics in Modern (Russian) Linguistics: Conditional sentences / aspect 10

Meer info

Objectives
Programme
Admission
Structure
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
Tracks

2011-2012

Objectives

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

Programme

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.

Admission

  • A BA-degree with a relevant specialisation and good results from a recognised university;

  • IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 600/250 for non-native speakers of English.

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.

Structure

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.

Assessment

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

Tracks

  • 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.