Curriculum

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 receive 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
Eurolit 1: Antiquity and Middle Ages
Eurolit modules 1-4 provide an overview of the history of literature. This particular module deals with classical antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Introduction to Literary Studies
You are introduced to scientific research about the role of literature in society. You learn how to link literature to culture and history and how to write about it scientifically.
Study period 2
Eurolit 2: Early Modern Literature
This general module teaches you to understand, analyse, and reflect on historical literature from the Renaissance until the Age of Reason.
Close reading
You will learn everything there is to know about close reading, which is a way of reading and analysing texts. You will read stories and poems to practise this method. You will be working in groups and expected to give a presentation.
Study period 3
Eurolit 3: 1789-1914
In Eurolit 3, we focus on literature from the period between 1789 (the French Revolution) and 1914 (the start of the First World War). We shall study the changes and developments in literature and society by examining three themes (media, genre, and social impact) which run through the module.
Cultural Criticism
You will learn everything about Western European theories of criticism. How does literature reflect our world and its balances of power? You will examine some important examples of the theories of criticism and analyse a number of texts yourself.
Study period 4
Eurolit 4: 1914-now (including new media)
The fourth and final course in the survey of European literary history covers the period from 1914 to the present. The main literary and artistic movements of this turbulent period will be discussed, including modernism and the avant garde (expressionism, futurism, surrealism, dada), existentialism and absurdism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, and current developments like posthumanism.
Current Theories and World Literature
This course introduces you to the phenomenon of world literature. You will read works from Japan, the Arabic World, China, India and Nigeria and discuss their circulation, translation and the role of authors, states and publishers
Year 2
Compulsory
Study period 3: Literary Toolbox
How can you develop new knowledge about and through literature? What kind of knowledge is that? What does the study of literature have in common with the other sciences and humanities? These questions form the focus of the Literary Toolbox.
Study period 1: The Shakespeare Industry (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. This course gives you the opportunity to study the immense industry that has been developed around Shakespeare and to get acquainted with a number of intriguing traditions related to the life and work of Shakespeare.
Study period 2: Literatuur en filosofie (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. In 2019-2020 this course will be taught in Dutch. In deze cursus bestuderen we de relatie tussen literatuur en filosofie aan de hand van een tiental schrijvers/filosofen en van stromingen die zowel in de literatuur als de filosofie van doorslaggevend belang zijn geweest.
Study period 2: Adapting (to) the Novel (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. Analyse adaptations of English novels as films, plays, other books or musical compositions.
Study period 2: Irish Literature 1850-Present (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. This course offers an introduction to Anglo-Irish literature from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present.
Study perdiod 3: This American Life: Gender, Media and Theory in Contemporary American Literature (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. This course focusses on the most important texts of contemporary American literature. The following questions are addressed: How does contemporary American literature deal with other forms of media? In what way are conversations about the role of gender and sexuality in American life constructed? Which theories about literature, gender and media are relevant to this course?
Study period 3: Mythos en logos (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. In 2019-2020 this course will be taught in Dutch. Hoe zien wij Griekse mythen terug in hedendaagse verhalen? Je bestudeert moderne teksten waarin klassieke mythen verwerkt zijn en ontdekt hoe de Griekse mythologie voortleeft.
Study period 4: Retorica (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. In 2019-2020 this course will be taught in Dutch. Bij de cursus Retorica (de kunst van het overtuigen) bestudeer je de retorische traditie van de Oudheid tot op heden intensief. Daarnaast ga je in werkgroepen onder leiding van een acteur zelf aan de slag met je welbespraaktheid.
Study period 4: From Táin to Tolkien (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. In-depth unit on Interpretation and Reinterpretation of Medieval Celtic Texts. You study how medieval Celtic literature lives on in later forms of artistic expression such as books, theatre plays, films, television series and games.
Study period 4: Creative writing (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. Learn to write creative works for adults in English. You may write fiction or non-fiction, or even poetry.
Study peroid 4: Civil War to Civil Rights: American Literature 1860s-1960s (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. This course introduces some of the key literary works of American literature written or set during the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century (1860s to 1960s).
Study period 4: Great Medieval Heroes (elective)
It is compulsory to choose one of these eleven electives. Study representations of English and Celtic heroes, for example, Robin Hood and Owain Glyndwr.
Specialisation World Literature
Study period 1: Postcolonial Theory
In this course you look at literature and culture from the perspective of Postcolonial Theory. We focus on debates and developments in post-colonialism.
Study period 2: Migration and diaspora in Europe
This is part of the World Literature specialisation. How do stories of migrants enrich the corpus of literature? How can stories and poems contribute to the development of and the cohesion within political and cultural groups?
Study period 3: Utopian Imagination
This is part of the World Literature specialisation. You'll investigate how literature ponders and fantasises about the future, through narratives of imagined spaces enshrining notions of the good or desired (utopia) and the bad or dreaded (dystopia). What do these images of the future tell us about the time in which they were written?
Study period 4: Human Rights and Bildung
This is part of both the Literature in Conflict and the World Literature specialisations. The concept of 'Bildung' refers to the ideal of an individual’s self-development in society. You'll examine how literature and the concept of Bildung influence our ideas about human rights.
Specialisation Literature in Conflict
Study period 1: Banned books
This is part of the Literature in Conflict specialisation. You will examine a number of texts which caused controversy in the past and investigate how the authorities tried to prevent these texts from publication or circulation. Among the authors to be discussed are Erasmus, Montaigne, Voltaire, and Rushdie. How did they and other authors get around the censors?
Study period 2: Contesting the past
This is part of the Literature in Conflict specialisation. Which memories from our cultural past keep resurfacing and which remain hidden? You'll study how literature has struggled to interpret our past.
Study period 3: Literature and Dissent
This is part of the Literature in Conflict specialisation. You'll study literature which criticises society or politics to a lesser or greater extent. In addition, you'll investigate the relationship between critical literature and various other forms of resistance against the establishment.
Study period 4: Human rights and bildung
This is part of both the Literature in Conflict and the World Literature specialisations. The concept of 'Bildung' refers to the ideal of an individual’s self-development in society. You'll examine how literature and the concept of Bildung influence our ideas about human rights.
Year 3
Study period 1
The Republic of Letters
This course re-unites the Literary Studies students after their specialisation in Year 2. It focuses on the way literature is organised and produced, discussing the role of publishing houses, literary festivals and prizes, and exploring the job opportunities in the cultural field.
Study period 1-4
Elective
One third of the programme is filled with optional courses that may interest you. For example, you can choose to do a second track within your programme or you can do a selection of courses from a different programme. As a result, you can shape your own study path within the curriculum.
Bachelor’s thesis
You will complete the Bachelor’s programme by writing a thesis about a topic of your choice

Coherence

If you take Literary Studies 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.

Specialisations

In the second year, you will study literature in greater depth. You can choose from various specialisations. Every specialisation consists of four courses. In the subject overview, you can find course descriptions.
 

  • World Literature
    This specialisation teaches you everything about the state of the art regarding this international and interdisciplinary field. You'll read literature from and from beyond Western Europe, master a new and international body of texts and learn how the study of literature has developed into a true comparative science. You'll also hear about the intermediary role of the international publishing trade.
     
  • Literature in Conflict
    This specialisation consists of a reflection on the tensions, conflicts and controversies in the relationship between literature and society. You will familiarise yourself with the main current debates in this area and learn how to interpret the historical and theoretical connections between literature, law and politics through individual case studies.

Electives

One third of the programme is filled with optional courses that may interest you. For example, you can choose to do a second track within your programme or you can do a selection of courses from a different programme. You can also spend some time studying abroad. As a result, you can shape your own study path within the curriculum.

Internship

An internship allows to you gain practical experience: you get a taste of how you can apply the knowledge and skills you developed during your studies, in practice. An internship is also a great opportunity to see what kind of work you like and what type of organisations suit you. On top of that, it is a great way to start your professional network. The internship coordinator of the Literary Studies programme can help you to find an interesting internship.

Teaching methods

In the first year of your Literary Studies Bachelor's programme, tuition will be in the form of lectures and tutorials:

  • Lectures are a way of getting an overview of a large amount of information in a short of amount of time; you and your fellow students will be listening to an expert in the field.
  • Tutorials give you a chance to actively engage with historical issues yourself. You may have to give a presentation or discuss a topic amongst yourselves or work on an assignment. There are plenty of opportunities for interaction and for asking questions.

You will have an average of 12 to 18 contact hours per week. In addition to attending lectures, you will work independently (so without supervision) in the form of group work or independent study. The ratio between the forms of tuition in the first year is:

Lectures 10%
Tutorials 20%
Group study 25%
Independent study 45%

Group size

In 2018, 47 students started the Literary Studies Bachelor's programme (Dutch and English). In the tutorials you will work alongside approximately 20–25 fellow students. 

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 Recommendation Regarding the Continuation of Studies

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 Literary Studies, 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.

Tutor

During each year of the study programme you have 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. Your tutor also advises you on how to make the most of your studies and how to best develop your CV.