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Linguistics: Linguistics

This is a specialisation within the MA Linguistics

This specialisation consists of several suggested thematic routes. Each route focuses on a different research area, and consists of a selection of obligatory theme courses and suggested elective courses.

Students take the following courses:

20 EC: (At least) Theme courses

20 EC: Electives (Elective courses, internship, individual project) and/or extra theme courses

20 EC: MA thesis on a topic fitting the thematic route

All routes

1. Theoretical Linguistics

Semester 1: Advanced Syntax 1, Advanced Syntax 2, Cross-Linguistic Variation in Semantics, Advanced Phonology 1
Semester 2: Comparative Syntax, Advanced Phonology 2, Advanced Morphology
Suggested Electives: Advanced Typology, Pragmatics, Statistics in Linguistics, Cognitive Neuroscience of Language, Field Methods, Advanced topics in Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing, Machine learning for NLP, The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition, Individual Project (FGW)

2. Language Processing and Cognition

Semester 1: Experimental Phonetics, Cognitive Neuroscience of Language, Methods in Speech Processing
Semester 2: Methods in Experimental Linguistics, Forensic Speech Science, The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition
Suggested Electives: Second Language Acquisition, Statistics in Linguistics, The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition, Machine learning for NLP, Statistics in Linguistics, Individual Project (FGW)

3. Language Description and Documentation

Semester 1: Diversity Linguistics: Africa, Asia and the Americas, Advanced Typology, Field methods, Language Documentation, Language, Culture and Cognition
Semester 2: Issues in Language Endangerment and Documentation, Fieldwork Internship/practicum
Suggested Electives: Language Contact, Oral Traditions, Individual Project (FGW), Internship Linguistics

4. Theoretical Approaches to Linguistic Diversity

Semester 1: Diversity Linguistics: Africa, Asia and the Americas, Experimental Phonetics, Advanced Syntax 1, Advanced Phonology 1
Semester 2: Fieldwork Internship/practicum, Comparative Syntax, Advanced Morphology
Suggested Electives: Advanced Typology, Advanced Morphology, Methods in Speech Processing, Field Methods, Advanced Phonology 2, Individual Project (FGW)

5. Comparative Indo-European Linguistics

Semester 1: Indo-European Linguistics I, Indo-European Linguistics II (Noun), Advanced Indo-European Morphology (Noun), Methodology of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics
Semester 2: Indo-European Linguistics II (Verb), Advanced Indo-European Phonology
Suggested Electives: Anatolian Languages: Hittite and Luwian,Vedic Sanskrit for Indo-Europeanists, Ancient Greek for Indo-Europeanists, Mycenaean World: Language, Introduction to Tocharian B, Individual Project (FGW)

6. Language and Communication

Semester 1: Pragmatics, Approaches to Argumentative Discourse, Language, Culture and Cognition
Semester 2: Argumentative and Rhetorical Practices, Oral Traditions, Sociolinguistics
Suggested Electives:
De Sturende Kracht van Taal,Qualitative Methods in Linguistics, Communication in Africa: the Power of Language & Media, Individual Project (FGW)

7. Applied Linguistics

Semester 1: Second Language Acquisition, Experimental Phonetics, pragmatics
Semester 2: Forensic Speech Science, Sociolinguistics
Suggested Electives: Statistics in Linguistics, Qualitative Methods in Linguistics, Methods in Speech Processing, Field Methods, Methods in Experimental Linguistics, Didactiek van het Nederlands als tweede taal, The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition, Machine learning for NLP, Individual Project (FGW)

8. Computational Linguistics

Semester 1: Machine learning for NLP
Semester 2: Computational Corpus Analysis, Methods in Speech Processing, Advanced topics in Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing
Suggested Electives: Evolutionary Algorithms, Social Network Analysis for Computer Scientists, Text Mining, Computational Models and Semantics, Individual Project (FGW)

1.

Theoretical Linguistics

Theoretical linguistics seeks to understand the underlying principles of the nature of human language. Through investigating the (morpho-)syntax, phonology and semantics of linguistic structures, we come closer to explain the similarities and differences between languages as well as dialects. Theoretical linguistics in Leiden pays special attention to interface between subfields such as syntax-phonology interface, syntax-semantics interface, and syntax-processing interface. Through various electives, students of theoretical linguistics in Leiden also get connected with other subfields of linguistics such as experimental linguistics, descriptive linguistics, etc

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses

Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Advanced Syntax 1 5
Advanced Phonology 1 5
Cross-linguistic Variation in Semantics 10
Advanced Syntax 2 5

Semester 2

Advanced Phonology 2 5
Comparative Syntax 10
Advanced Morphology 5

Suggested electives

Machine learning for NLP 10
Cognitive Neuroscience of Language 10
Advanced Typology 10
Statistics in Linguistics 5
Field Methods 10
Pragmatics 10
Advanced topics in Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing 10
The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition 10
Internship Linguistics 10
Individual Project (FGW) 10

2.

Language Processing and Cognition

Using the language system in real time - i.e. speaking and listening, or signing and watching sign - requires fast processing of information at different levels in our cognitive system. How do we do this? How is linguistic information activated, processed and integrated, and where in the brain do these processes take place? How can we device experiments that give us insight in the workings of our language processing system? The theme "Language processing and cognition" combines courses that center around these questions.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses

Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Cognitive Neuroscience of Language 10
Experimental Phonetics 10
Methods in Speech Processing 5

Semester 2

The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition 10
Forensic Speech Science 10/5
Methods in Experimental Linguistics 10

Suggested electives

Second Language Acquisition 10
Statistics in Linguistics 5
Machine learning for NLP 10
The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition 10
Individual Project (FGW) 10

3.

Language Description and Documentation

Languages spoken around the world differ vastly from the more familiar Indo-European languages. The courses in this theme aim to introduce you to the immense linguistic diversity still found in the world today. You will learn from experts who regularly carry out research in Africa, Asia and the Americas, and benefit from their knowledge of the many interesting features found in each of these regions. For example, you will learn how the perspective of the speaker determines syntax in languages of the Americas, the function of serial verb constructions in Africa, and special ways to connect sentences in Asia. You will learn how to compare and evaluate key research directions in descriptive linguistics and documentation, ultimately equipping you with the insights and skills required to carry out independent research in the field.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses

Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Diversity Linguistics: Africa, Asia and the Americas 10
Language Documentation 5
Advanced Typology 10
Field Methods 10
Language, Culture and Cognition 10

Semester 2

Issues in Language Endangerment and Documentation 5
Fieldwork Internship/Practicum 5/10

Suggested electives

Individual Project (FGW) 10
Oral Traditions 10
Language Contact 10

4.

Theoretical Approaches to Linguistic Diversity

Describing a new language for the first time is an exciting and challenging intellectual experience. It is best done against a solid background in linguistic typology, as that helps us to recognize patterns in the language that are common versus those that are rare or unique among the world’s languages. In addition, theories of phonetics, phonology, morphology or syntax enable us to formulate research questions that can lead to a more detailed understanding and more insightful analysis of primary data in those various subfields. At the same time, the primary data can be used to modify or refine typological categorizations and theoretical models. The theme “Theoretical approaches to Linguistic Diversity” provides you tools to combine the study of primary data with typology and theory.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses

Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Advanced Syntax 1 5
Advanced Phonology 1 5
Diversity Linguistics: Africa, Asia and the Americas 10
Experimental Phonetics 10

Semester 2

Advanced Morphology 5
Fieldwork Internship/Practicum 5/10

Suggested electives

Methods in Speech Processing 5
Advanced Typology 10
Field Methods 10
Advanced Phonology 2 5
Advanced Morphology 5
Individual Project (FGW) 10

5.

Comparative Indo-European Linguistics

Almost all languages of Europe and of a large part of western Asia belong to a single language family, which is called Indo-European, and which includes modern languages like English, Dutch, Russian, Farsi, but also ancient ones like Ancient Greek, Latin, Hittite and Sanskrit. All these languages ultimately derive from a single ancestor language, which was spoken more than 5000 years ago. But how do we know that these languages are related in the first place? In what way is it possible to reconstruct the grammar and lexicon of the Proto-Indo-European mother language? By which mechanisms did Proto-Indo-European split up and why did all the daughter languages develop in different ways? What kind of linguistic changes can be reconstructed for the prehistories of all these languages? The theme ‘Comparative Indo-European linguistics’ combines courses that deal with all these questions.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses

Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Indo-European Linguistics I 5
Methodology of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics 5
Indo-European linguistics II (Noun) 5
Advanced Indo-European Morphology (Noun) 10

Semester 2

Indo-European linguistics II (Verb) 5
Advanced Topics in Indo-European Phonology 10

Suggested electives

Anatolian Languages: Hittite and Luwian 5
The Mycenaean World: Language 5
Ancient Greek for Indo-Europeanists 5
Vedic Sanskrit for Indo-Europeanists 5
Individual Project (FGW) 10
Introduction to Tocharian B 5

6.

Language and Communication

To make successful communication possible, people need much more than their knowledge of the language system. In the theme “Language and Communication” we study language-in-use. How can we understand each other if we often intend more, or something else, than we are literally saying? How do people strategically use language to achieve certain effects? When is argumentation reasonable? How is our view of the world and the different groups we belong to reflected in the language that we use? This theme uniquely combines courses in pragmatics, sociolinguistics and argumentation/rhetorics.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses

Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Language, Culture and Cognition 10
Approaches to Argumentative Discourse 10
Pragmatics 10

Semester 2

Argumentative and Rhetorical Practices 10
Sociolinguistics 10
Oral Traditions 10

Suggested electives

Qualitative Methods in Linguistics 5
Communication in Africa: the Power of Language & Media 5
De Sturende Kracht van Taal 10

7.

Applied Linguistics

The goal of the field of Applied Linguistics is to apply the findings and the techniques from research in linguistics to solve practical language-related problems in society. Within the theme 'Applied Linguistics' in our program you can focus on one of two such 'problems', namely Forensic Linguistics or Second Language Acquisition. For the direction Forensic Linguistics a combination of the courses Forensic Speech Science, Experimental Phonetics, and Sociolinguistics is recommended, while for Second Language Acquisition, we recommend to combine the similarly named course Second Language Acquisition with Bilingual Acquisition and Sociolinguistics.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses
Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Pragmatics 10
Second Language Acquisition 10
Experimental Phonetics 10

Semester 2

Forensic Speech Science 10/5
Sociolinguistics 10

Suggested electives

Didactiek van het Nederlands als tweede taal 10
Statistics in Linguistics 5
Qualitative Methods in Linguistics 5
Field Methods 10
Methods in Speech Processing 5
Machine learning for NLP 10
The Communicative Mind: Investigating the Interplay between Language and Social Cognition 10
Methods in Experimental Linguistics 10
Individual Project (FGW) 10

8.

Computational Linguistics

The computational linguistics master track offers students who aspire to become Natural Language Processing (NLP) experts a solid background in various important sub-disciplines of this field. The track has 4 core courses and 6 electives. The core courses span the center field of computational linguistics, addressing corpus linguistics (5 EC), speech analysis and synthesis (5EC), machine learning-based NLP (10 EC), and a literature analysis course on deep learning-based approaches to NLP (10 EC). The 5 EC electives address text mining, machine translation (from 2023), evolutionary algorithms, computational semantics, social network analysis and statistics in linguistics.

Bachelor students who have taken the BA course on deep learning for NLP (LIACS & LUCL) will be able to pursue a deep learning-oriented pathway through this master. A corpus linguistics-oriented pathway, or a pathway with emphasis on machine translation and machine learning are likewise possible, in addition to other trajectories.

All in all, this master track will supply students with a firm background in the core of current computational linguistics and additionally provides them with a solid comprehension of its neighboring fields.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Obligatory course

MA Thesis Linguistics 20

Theme courses

Choose 20 EC

Semester 1

Machine learning for NLP 10

Semester 2

Advanced topics in Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing 10
Computational Corpus Analysis 5

Suggested electives

Methods in Speech Processing 5
Evolutionary Algorithms 6
Text Mining 6
Social Network Analysis for Computer Scientists 6
Statistics in Linguistics 5
Computational Models and Semantics 6

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in Linguistics

The programme

The curriculum of Linguistics offers a wide range of perspectives on the history, structure and use of language. The programme has three specialisations.
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 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?’.

Activities

You will be notified via the Faculty 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:

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 study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of [Linguistics] 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

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

  • Analytical skills

Internships

During your studies you have ample opportunity to gain experience studying, working, or conducting research at an organisation or institution. This experience is highly valued within international organisations. Many of our students choose to do an internship during their study. Internships are a great way to gain invaluable first-hand experience in your area of interest before you decide on making it a career. More information about finding and arranging an internship can be found on this website.

In recent years, students from Linguistics (specialisation) have participated in internships at:

  • Leiden University Centre for Linguistics

  • Koninklijke Brill NV

  • Transnational Consulting S.L.

  • Taalmuseum Leiden

  • Meertens Instituut

  • Ambassade van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden Rome

  • Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

  • KERN B.V. Vertaal- en Tolkservice

  • LiBC Babylab voor taalverwerving

  • Europees Parlement

  • Pro Comunidades Indigenas

  • Instituut voor Gebaren, Taal & Dovenstudies

Contact

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 Coordinator of Studies.

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