MA in Literary Studies - Literature in Society: Europe and Beyond


What will I learn?

In Leiden University’s master’s programme Literature in Society. Europe and Beyond you will develop your knowledge of the interactive relationship between literature and society, focusing on key political and social issues from a transnational perspective.

Why study Literature in Society. Europe and Beyond at Leiden University?

The master in Literature in Society. Europe and Beyond offers specialised knowledge on the role and impact of literature in society. Novels, poetry, theatre and new literary media from both 'high’ and ‘popular’ culture reflect social issues but also shape them. Your studies thus take a thematic approach to the study of literature, exploring literature from the point of view of political and social issues like identity, migration, memory, and the metropolis.

A transnational perspective

Studying the impact of literature on society involves a series of questions: how does literature affect (or sometimes threaten) ways of life and moral standards? How do literary strategies such as story-telling shape the fields of politics and law? How does literature help shape individual and collective identity and memory? Conversely, society also shapes literature.

This involves questions about the embeddedness of literature in culture and society; about the cultural capital of individual texts, genres and oeuvres: why are certain works and authors classified as classics and others as popular or ‘cult’? Much modern literature in Western Europe stands at the crossroads of European and non-European cultures. A transnational perspective is thus an important part of this Master.

Programme structure

The Literature in Society. Europe and Beyond master's programme includes a total of four courses divided into two semesters. All tuition is given in the form of seminars. One course is obligatory, the other three are electives. One of the courses may be replaced by an internship; the final thesis is based on a topic of your own choosing.

Core course

‘Literature in Society. Narrative, Fiction and Voice’: Focusses on the various ways in which literature impacts the social, juridical and political dynamics of Europe today.

Electives specifically developed for Literature in Society

Gothic Transformations

Remapping the City in Modern Literature and Visual Cultures

Related electives

More electives may be chosen from a list of related courses belonging to other specialisations of Literary Studies: English, French, German, Italian Literature and Culture, or to Dutch Studies, Latin-American Studies, North American Studies or Comparative Literature.

Career prospects

Create new opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University.

As a graduate of the master in Literature in Society. Europe and Beyond, you are prepared for a career in a wide variety of fields, including journalism, teaching and communication. Our graduates find opportunities in the fields of archiving, publishing and other media industries, as well within the cultural public domain, the art-trade and public relations.

A Leiden University degree

Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA in Literary Studies.

Which department am I in?

Faculty of Humanities

Study options

Full Time (1 Year)

Tuition fees
€17,716.00 (15,70,428) per year
Application deadline

Expected October 2023

More details

Start date

Expected September 2023


Leiden University

Rapenburg 70,



2311, Netherlands

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Applicants need a BA or BSc degree (or equivalent) to be admitted to any of Leiden University’s master’s programmes. English-language proficiency: IELTS - 6.0; Toefl (internet based): 80 (component score: 20); Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE), or C1 Advanced (CAE): Cambridge component score of 169.

For international students

  • A copy of a valid passport or ID card
  • A copy of a Dutch residence permit (if applicable)
  • CV (résumé)
  • Language proficiency (if applicable)
  • Copies of diplomas and transcripts
  • Letter of motivation

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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