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Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Choose three courses

Marvellous Worlds: The Literary Fantastic 10
Approaches to Literature 10
Literature and Theory: Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Butler 10
Modern/Contemp. Studies: Eco-criticism/biopolitics 10

Second semester

Choose one course

Literature, art and the political after 9/11 10
Methodological Concepts in Art and Literature 10
Literary translation 10
MA Thesis Literary Studies 20

Additional courses

Apart from the courses mentioned above, students may choose from the following courses: (taught within the Research Master Study of Art and Literature ) Interculturality 2 and The Sixties, Literature and Art in the Expanded Field.

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Programme Details

Title: Master of Arts
Duration: 1 year, full-time; 1,5 year part-time
Start dates: September and February
Language of instruction: English


The Master’s programme in Literary Studies aims at further in-depth study of the four
components of the Bachelor’s programme. First of all, these include the two
fields of study which traditionally constitute the core of our discipline: Literary Theory and
Comparative Literature. In addition, the Leiden Bachelor’s programme also
concentrates on two other themes: Interculturality and Intermediality. Thanks to this
in-depth approach, graduates not only qualify for various positions in the cultural sector,
but also for a PhD position.

Graduates have acquired knowledge of and insight into the following:

  • the contents of the field, including its central concepts and theories, research methods and development;

  • important literary movements, in particular after 1800.

Graduates are able to:

  • study and judge the quality and reliability of the literature in the field independently;

  • collect literature in the field independently;

  • critically analyse literary texts;

  • formulate a clear research problem, and turn it into a viable research project, under expert guidance;

  • report on their research results, both orally and in writing.

The Master’s programme aims to raise students to a level of knowledge and skills that allows them
to proceed to PhD research. Alternatively, graduates qualify for positions outside the
university that require an academic level of thinking.


The programme consists of two semesters of 30 ects each, 20 ects of which are devoted
to the writing of a Master thesis in the second semester. In practical terms, this means
that the first semester consists of three courses worth 10 ects each, while in the second
semester students only take one course of 10 ects.
Unlike the Bachelor programme, the four courses offered specially for our one-year
Master vary each year. However, each course corresponds to one of four fixed categories
defined in the programme. The categories are as follows:

  • Tropes and Other Rhetorical Topics. In the coming year, this theme will be dealt with in a course on irony, but the subject of the course may vary and be replaced by, for instance, theory of metaphor.

  • Canonical Theoreticians. In the academic year 2011-2012, this theme will be dealt with in a course on Roland Barthes, Mikhail Bakhtin and Michel Foucault. Each year, a selection is made of the work of three major theoreticians, such as Spivak, Butler, Blanchot, Deleuze, McLuhan, etc.

  • Genres/Text Types/Media. In the academic year 2011-2012, this course will focus on Marvellous Worlds: the Literary Fantastic. Other possible topics are narrative theory, drama theory or new media.

  • Rewriting of a Theme/Genre. This course, which combines a historical with a theoretical approach, concentrates on the study of primary sources, based on a theme or classical text. In the academic year 2011-2012, the courses will be organized around the themes of Eco-criticism, Literature, Art and the Political after 9/11 and The (Im)possibility of Literary Translation.

Additional Courses
Apart from the courses mentioned above, students may choose from the following courses: (taught within the Research Master Study of Art and Literature) Approaches, Methodological Concepts, Interculturality 1 & 2 and The Sixties, Literature and Art in the Expanded Field.

Courses outside Leiden University
There is an established collaboration agreement between the Leiden programme and
the Master’s programme in Literary Studies of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). As
a result, students are free to exchange one course in the Leiden curriculum for a course
taught in Amsterdam. The thesis supervisor, however, must be affiliated to Leiden

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have completed 60 ects of courses including the
writing of the thesis. The master’s thesis forms the last component in the master’s
programme, and it should include the results of the students’ individual research. The
thesis consists of approximately 17,000 words. It is evaluated by the relevant lecturer/
supervisor, assisted by a second reader.
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