The full Bachelor's programme takes three years. Each year comprises four 10-week periods. Each period concludes with a week of examinations. In your first year, you will have an average of 12 contact hours per week.

Below the course overview, you will find an explanation of the study programme. 

Year 1
Study period 1
From Language to Linguistics
You will investigate the structure of language as a central part of human cognition. You will focus on English and Dutch, but sometimes you will look at other languages as well.
Psychology of Language
Is there a difference between how children and adults learn language? What goes on in our head when we try to understand language? Everything about language in our brain.
Study period 2
Language Meaning and Language Use
You will learn about the meaning of words and sentences and the role of aspects such as reference, concepts, truth, and context.
Phonetics is about spoken language: how do people produce speech sounds and how do they recognise them?
Study period 3
Everything about the relationship between language and society. How do language variants, such as dialects, develop? You will learn to form an opinion about the relationship between language and society and how you can express this opinion in a scholarly manner.
Methods and Statistics 1
In this course you will learn the basic principles and methods of empirical research, especially the types of research that uses statistics.
Study period 4
Language Development
Small children learn their mother tongue with great ease, almost automatically. Exactly what rules and characteristics of language do children learn? And what rules or principles do children know from birth?
Linguistic Invariance and Language Variation
You will learn more about formal linguistics and investigate the structural similarities and differences between natural languages. What do these differences and similarities mean for how we mentally learn or process a language?
Year 2
Study period 1: Digital Tools and Methods
Research in linguistics relies increasingly on the analysis of large quantities of language data with a computer. For example, a linguist might be interested in studying variation in a very large text corpus. This course will introduce you to digital tools and methods used for research in linguistics and Humanities.
Study period 3: Language and Computation
Language can be seen as a formal system that can be approached from a computer perspective. Using the skills that you learned in the course Digital tools and methods, you will learn about the computational complexity, modeling and processing of language.
Specialisation Language variation (fully taught in Dutch)
Study period 1: Languages in contact
What happens when people with different languages start interacting? This course is about the way in which languages influence each other when there is language contact.
Study period 2: Melody and Rhythm in Languages
We will look at melody and rhythm in spoken language. How do melody and rhythm relate to language structures and meanings?
Study period 3: Multilingualism
Everything about the coexistence of multiple languages in society and in individuals. Which people are multilingual, how do you become multilingual, and can multilingualism be socially or politically influenced?
Study period 4: Variation and change
You will learn which variants of languages are spoken in the Dutch-speaking world and how these languages are changing. This will involve looking at speech, sentence structure, and words.
Specialisation The human language faculty (fully taught in English)
Study period 1: Experimental Psycholinguistics
You will learn about the mental processes which enable us to speak, comprehend, and read and write, and how we can examine these processes.
Study period 2: Words in the mind
What are words, how does our brain process them, how do you acquire them, and what is their relation to culture?
Study period 3: Semantics and pragmatics
You will investigate the relationship between text and meaning, and how this depends on the context in which they are used.
Study period 4: Language acquisition and language structure
You will study the acquisition of a language or a topic of language theory.
Year 3
Study period 1 or 3
Capstone Course: Research, Writing and Reflection
This course will prepare you for writing your Bachelor’s thesis.
Study period 1-4
One third of your programme is composed of electives, where you are free to choose the subjects that interest you the most. You can put together a second package to give you a more in-depth understanding of your main area of interest, for instance, or you can opt for a package of related subjects from another programme. This freedom of choice allows you to specialise as you see fit. You can also choose courses that fit in with your preferred Master’s programme.
Bachelor's Thesis
You will complete your Bachelor’s programme with a final project.


If you take Linguistics at Utrecht, you will study subjects in coherent units. This ensures a sound structure. Because you will study the units of a subject together with the same fellow students, you will get to know each other well.


In the second year, you study Linguistics in greater depth. You can also choose from various specialisations. Each specialisation consists of four courses; you can find course descriptions in the subject overview.

  • Language variation
    Theory and research on variation and change in speech and language. This track is fully taught in Dutch.
  • The human language faculty
    What are speech and language as part of our cognitive system based on, and how is that expressed in language acts? This package is fully taught in English.


One third of your programme is composed of electives, where you are free to choose the subjects that interest you the most. You can put together a second package to give you a more in-depth understanding of your main area of interest, for instance, or you can opt for a package of related subjects from another programme. The other courses are completely up to you. This freedom of choice allows you to specialise as you see fit. It may be wise to choose courses that fit in with your preferred Master’s programme.


An internship allows to you gain practical experience during your studies in the field of your studies, at a research institute, company, or government organization.

Teaching Methods

In the first year of the Bachelor’s programme in Linguistics, tuition will be provided by way of lectures, tutorials and practicals:

  • A lecture is where you and your fellow students will listen to a lecturer talk about a particular subject in a large lecture hall.
  • You yourself will get to play an active role as well – that’s what tutorials are for. These may involve delivering a presentation or taking part in a group discussion or assignment. You will have plenty of room for interaction and for asking the lecturer questions.
  • The practicals are focused on the analysis of speech and studying collections of texts.

You will have an average of 12 to 18 contact hours a week. Besides attending classes, you will also work independently (i.e. without supervision) in working groups and through self-study. The ratio between the different formats in the first year is as follows:

Lectures 10%
Tutorials 20%
Practicals 5%
Group study 20%
Independent study 45%

Group size

In 2018, there were 18 new students in the Dutch Linguistics programme (Taalwetenschappen). The average group size for lectures is larger in the first year because you will attend lectures with students from other programmes. Tutorials will have about 20-25 students.

Teaching Language

You have your choice between a dual-language (Dutch/English) track and a track taught entirely in English. Combining Dutch and English, the dual-language track offers the option of a completely Dutch in-depth track (Language variation) or one taught completely in English (The human language faculty).


 Fully taught in English in the first year, thereafter depending on choice of package


 Mixture of Dutch and English, thereafter depending on choice of packages

In the track taught in English, your tutorials will be taught in English as well.

Academic Year Calendar

Check out the Academic Year Calendar (PDF) here for the start and end dates of the terms and non-teaching weeks.

Binding Study Advice

As with all other Dutch universities, we at Utrecht University use a binding recommendation regarding the continuation of studies (BSA). This means that you must attain a minimum number of credits to be allowed to continue your programme. For Linguistics, this minimum is 45 credits (of the total of 60 credits that can be awarded). If you do not achieve this, you will have to end your programme. The Study Advisor or tutor will help you find a programme that is more suitable for you.

Grading system

The grading system in the Netherlands might differ significantly from the grading system you are used to. See here for more information.


From the start of the study programme, each student has an individual tutor. The tutor is an academic staff member, who helps you with questions regarding the study programme and advises you on the various options within the course. The tutor also advises students on how to make the most of their studies.