P41 int broch Linguistics option 2

Do you ever wonder how children acquire their native language? How did a language like English develop over the centuries? And how and why do language differ from one another? Linguistics has the answer to those questions. In this exciting programme you get to explore all aspects of languages. You will compare languages, study languages that are almost extinct and learn about language rules and structure.

Linguistics differs from academic language programmes. As a Linguistics student, you delve deeply into language structure, sounds and syntaxis. As a Linguistics graduate, you will possess knowledge of the many aspects of language.

Why study Linguistics in Leiden?

  • A linguistics qualification from top-ranking Leiden University is respected by organisations worldwide.
  • Over 65 languages are studied at Leiden University: whether you want to compare languages or find out something about a specific language, you can always find a specialist in Leiden.
Pag 47 int broch Isaac Eaton

Wilder Marsh
Second-year student

'I thought that the first semester of the first year was an easy transition into university life. It was nice to have some interdisciplinary courses to get settled in, and then in the second semester we chose our region – which is already a bit more complicated, but also more fun! I study Africa, and I could not be more excited about my choice. ‘Africa’ entails the entire continent, which is very culturally and linguistically diverse of course! Because of this, they give us a lot of opportunities to research what we find most interesting ourselves.'

Curriculum: Linguistics

Linguistics 2023

3 English-taught specialisations:

Descriptive Linguistics
Of the roughly six thousand languages in the world, only about five hundred have been documented to a reasonable extent. Therefore there are thousands of languages waiting for an eager linguist to discover, study and document their structures, possibly saving them from oblivion. This specialisation focuses on describing known and nearly forgotten languages.

Language and Cognition
We look at language models that try to explain how language is represented in the brain. This specialisation touches on research fields such as psychology, neuroscience and computer science.
What characterises Language and Cognition at Leiden is the focus on the interface between formal and experimental linguistics.

Comparative Indo-European Linguistics
Languages such as Sandskrit and Latin originate from the ancient Indo-European language, as do Dutch, English and Russian. We try to reconstruct the language of the Indo-Europeans by learning and comparing many languages. As the hunt for Indo-European is by no means complete, you can make an important contribution to this academic reconstruction.

Study or internship abroad

Interested in studying linguistics abroad? Or would you like to follow a course with a particular (international) specialist? You can do part of your studies abroad, and it is also possible to do an internship in the Netherlands or abroad.

Your future career

Linguistics graduates are attractive to a wide range of employers. Our alumni have gone on to such positions as researcher, consultant, policy officer, editor communications adviser. Others work in public relations, copywriting or education. Our graduates have, for example, found jobs at academic institutions such as Leiden University and The Netherlands Organisation for

Scientific Research (NWO), but also at commercial businesses such as Unilever and McKinsey & Company management consulting.


Part of the admission and application procedure is participation in the matching module. Matching helps you determine whether the focus and level of the programme are for you. You receive advice in order to solidify your decision to start this programme.

P31 linguistics

Location: Leiden


year programme, 180 ECTS


English-taught programme established




largest lecture size


maximum tutorial size