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Latin American Studies (research)

From 2017-2018 onwards the Research Master Latin American Studies concentrates on Latin American Modernities: Resistance, Revival and Change.

The programme focuses on ideas and practices of resistance and change in Latin America and the Caribbean. Students will learn how to conduct research on the different forms through which modernity is lived out and implemented in the Latin American region. From the theoretical mindset on modernities, the programme will train students to carry out research on three main themes:

  • Culture and identity: socio-symbolic constructions; everyday life; (im)material culture; social, collective and individual identities.

  • State-society relations: legitimacy; authority; governance and order.

  • Literature, arts and media: the produced culture circulating through the press, (audio)visual and electronic media.

The programme consists of a number of obligatory courses, which you can combine with electives in your chosen theme of interest and related research methodology.

Most courses are taught in Spanish and some electives in English or Portuguese. Students can write their papers and thesis in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

After the first year students go to Latin America for a research period of 8 – 12 weeks to gather materials for their thesis.

For more information on the course structure please see ‘More Info’.

Contact: Coordinator of Studies

First year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Resistance, Revival and Change; Mechanisms and Expressions 10
Theoretische benaderingen over de moderniteit van Latijns-Amerika 10

Thematic accent I, choose one of the following:

State-Society Relations:

Estado, Sociedad Civil y Políticas Públicas en América Latina 10

Literature, arts and media:

El lugar de lo político en la literatura y el cine latinoamericanos 10
Remapping the City in Modern Literature and Visual Cultures 10

Culture and identity:

Interculturality 1: Key Concepts 10
Brazil in the Portuguese Speaking World: Political and Cultural Dynamics 10

Second semester

Methods I:

Methods I: Research Seminar Latin American Modernities 10

Choose an elective from the Graduate School, for example:

Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities 10
Research School Course Latin American Studies 10

Thematic accent II, choose one of the following:

State-society relations:

Chile Visiting Chair 2022 10
Contemporary Brazil 10

Literature, arts and media:

Desplazamiento, memoria e identidad en la narrativa y el cine latinoamericanos 10
Nuevos Feminismos Latinoamericanos 10

Culture and identity:

Issues in Latin American Foreign Policies 10
State-Social Movement relations in the Andean Region 10

Second year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Thematic Accent III 10
Methods II: Research in Latin America 20

Second semester

Methods III: Writing Workshop 5
MA Thesis Latin American Studies (Research) 25


Career preparation

During your master’s programme, you will also be stimulated to think about your future career. We will encourage you to think about your ambitions and your potential, to reflect on the skills you have learnt and still want to learn, the subjects you’d like to specialize in and how to do that (f.ex. by enrolling for specific courses or choosing a subject for your thesis), the type of job you would like to do and how to prepare for it.


We’ll inform you by e-mail of events related to career orientation. It is advisable to keep an eye on the following activities that could be important for your orientation.

  • Seminar career orientation in November

  • Research abroad (in Latin America)

  • Humanities Career Event

  • Seminar career orientation in April

  • Various workshops

  • Research School Course Latin American Studies (ResMA)

  • Methods I: Research Seminar Latin American Modernities (ResMA)

  • Methods III: Writing Workshop (ResMA)

Soft skills

For future employers, not only the knowledge you have obtained during your studies is important, they might even pay more attention to ‘soft skills’, as they sometimes are called. These are different, behaviour-related skills that for example determine how you handle responsibilities, how good you are at planning and organizing, and how you solve problems.

This is why it is important that, during your studies, you focus both on obtaining as much knowledge as possible and on being conscious of which skills you have acquired and which skills you’d still like to learn. In the course descriptions of the master in Latin American Studies and the Research Master Latin American Studies you will encounter several of the following ‘soft skills’ that we will work on.

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)

  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence)

  • Project management (planning, scope, boundaries, result-orientation)

  • Responsibility (ownership, self-discipline, bear mistakes, accountability)

  • Motivation (commitment, pro-active attitude, initiative)

  • Self-regulation (independence, self-esteem, aware of own goals, motives and capacities)

  • Verbal communication (presenting, speaking, listening)

  • Written communication (writing skills, reporting, summarizing)

  • Collaboration (teamwork, group support, loyalty, attendance)

  • Flexibility (adaptability, dealing with change, teachability, eagerness to learn)

  • Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)

  • Creative thinking (resourcefulness, curiosity, thinking out of the box)

  • Integrity (honesty, moral, ethics, personal values)

  • Intercultural skills (communications between different cultures)


Questions about your (studie-related) career orientation? Make an appointment with the coordinator of Studies: Tim Sanders

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Leiden Elective Academic Periodical - Special Issue #2 "Nature" 10

More info


The programme has the following objectives: 1. to broaden and deepen the students’ knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the area of contemporary history, cultural and social analysis of Latin America; 2. to enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills: − the ability to solve academic problems independently, critically and creatively; − the ability to analyse complex problems; − the ability to clearly report academic results, both in writing and orally; 3. to prepare students for an academic career at a university for postgraduate programmes; 4. to prepare students for a non-academic career in the public or private sector for which advanced research skills and practical research experience are a prerequisite.

Programme structure

First year

Theoretical Core Courses – 20 EC In the first year of the programme you will take two core courses: ‘Modernities in Latin America and the Caribbean’ and ‘Resistance, Revival and Change: Mechanisms and Expressions’. These courses mark the start of the programme and allows you to acquire knowledge on theoretical debates centered around the concept of modernity.

Thematic Electives – 20 EC Throughout the programme you get three opportunities to select electives in your chosen theme of specialization. The themes are ‘State-society relations’, ‘Literature, arts and media’, and ‘Culture and identity’. The thematic electives combined with the core courses will help you to define your own research interest within the profile and expertise of the programme.

Research Seminar (Methodology 1) – 10 EC In this Research Master the acquisition of research methodologies is of central importance. In the second semester of your first year, you start preparing for your research in the second year. The course will teach you the basics of writing a research proposal.

Graduate School – 10 EC Research Schools courses offer training in both methodology and area specific knowledge. Research MA students choose courses at the Research Schools that relates most with their possible area of research.

Second year

Research in Latin America (Methodology 2) – 20 EC Based on the prepared proposal from your first year, you will start your second year by carrying out the research project in Latin America or the Caribbean under local supervision and with guidance from your supervisor in Leiden.

Thematic Elective – 10 EC In your second year you will also choose one thematic elective again. See description above.

Writing workshop (Methodology 3) – 5 EC The writing workshop will provide support in how to present your findings in different academic writing formats (for example: PhD research project; article publication; funding proposal).

Thesis – 25 EC Write your thesis based on the material you collected in Latin America or the Carribean.

Master thesis and requirements for graduation

The Research MA Latin American Studies is concluded by a 25 EC Research Master thesis. The thesis is based on original research in primary sources and will be ca. 30.000 words in size (excluding footnotes, literature or appendices). The thesis has to meet a high scholarly standard; it should be possible to rework the results of the thesis in to an article for an academic journal. Students are guided in writing their thesis by thesis supervisors.

Requirements for graduation are:

  • Successful completion of all courses (75 EC)

  • Successful completion of a research project (20 EC)

  • Successful completion of MA Thesis (25 EC)

Please note that you are also asked to fulfill certain administrative procedures, as can be found on the website of Latin American Studies.