Latin American Studies, 2018-2019

In the master’s programme in Latin American Studies at Leiden University you will focus on key social, political, linguistic and cultural developments which are currently shaping the complex reality of Latin America.

  • If you choose for Public Policies in Latin America (modern Latin American history), you will have the chance to study the fast changing nature of current state-civil society relations in this region.
  • When you want to study Latin American culture through literature and media in the broadest sense of the word you will choose a focus on Cultural Analysis. You will explore the ways present day modernization processes shape Latin American culture and identity.
  • Within the Language Variation and Bilingualism track you will study a series of current issues related bilingualism and language variation in the Spanish and Portuguese language as spoken in Latin America.

Structure of the programme for all students, regardless of specialization:

  • Theoretical seminar on topic of specialization (10 EC)
  • Research seminar on topic of specialization (10 EC)
  • Research in Latin America, November – January (10 EC)
  • Elective (10 EC)
  • Thesis (20 EC)

Students who start the programme in February will take the same courses in a different order. (IE SEMESTER 2 COURSES WILL ACTUALLY FORM PART OF THE STUDENTS’ FIRST SEMESTER CURRICULUM, AND VICEVERSA) Research in Latin America will take place in the summer period.

For more information, please contact Coordinator of Studies

Public Policies in Latin America

Students choosing Public Policies will get a programme on public policies and social development. They learn what is currently being done by Latin American governments and international agencies in the form of specific public policies to tackle major social problems which are affecting Latin American societies today (in fields such as poverty alleviation, education, health care, housing, and public security). During their fieldwork students will come in contact with state officials, NGOs, citizens’ organizations and other involved actors.

Cultural Analysis in Latin America

Cultural Analysis looks at verbal and visual expressions emerged in Latin American contexts. Culture expresses itself through language and images: stories and fictions which create communities and imagine identities. In this programme, we study works drawn from a broad range of fields: from literature to art, film and popular culture (soap operas, comic strips, song lyrics), new and old media (blogs), as well as social discourses articulated in political programmes and manifestos.

Language Variation and Bilingualism

During the master main theoretical and methodological issues will be discussed based on examples drawn from studies of bilingualism and language variation in Spanish and Portuguese. Several topics will be presented, from first to second language acquisition, individual to social bilingualism and finally language instruction and language policies concerning bilingualism.

Career preparation

During your master’s programme, you will also be stimulated to think about your future career. We will encourage you to think about your ambitions and your potential, to reflect on the skills you have learnt and still want to learn, the subjects you’d like to specialize in and how to do that (f.ex. by enrolling for specific courses or choosing a subject for your thesis), the type of job you would like to do and how to prepare for it.


We’ll inform you by e-mail of events related to career orientation. It is advisable to keep an eye on the following activities that could be important for your orientation.

• Seminar career orientation in November
• Research abroad (in Latin America)
• Humanities Career Event
• Seminar career orientation in April
• Various workshops
• Research seminar Public Policies/Methods of Cultural Analysis and Critical Readings/Methods: Putting Theory into Practice (Language Variation and Bilingualism) (MA)

Soft skills

For future employers, not only the knowledge you have obtained during your studies is important, they might even pay more attention to ‘soft skills’, as they sometimes are called. These are different, behaviour-related skills that for example determine how you handle responsibilities, how good you are at planning and organizing, and how you solve problems.

This is why it is important that, during your studies, you focus both on obtaining as much knowledge as possible and on being conscious of which skills you have acquired and which skills you’d still like to learn. In the course descriptions of the master in Latin American Studies and the Research Master Latin American Studies you will encounter several of the following ‘soft skills’ that we will work on.

• Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)
• Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence)
• Project management (planning, scope, boundaries, result-orientation)
• Responsibility (ownership, self-discipline, bear mistakes, accountability)
• Motivation (commitment, pro-active attitude, initiative)
• Self-regulation (independence, self-esteem, aware of own goals, motives and capacities)
• Verbal communication (presenting, speaking, listening)
• Written communication (writing skills, reporting, summarizing)
• Collaboration (teamwork, group support, loyalty, attendance)
• Flexibility (adaptability, dealing with change, teachability, eagerness to learn)
• Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)
• Creative thinking (resourcefulness, curiosity, thinking out of the box)
• Integrity (honesty, moral, ethics, personal values)
• Intercultural skills (communications between different cultures)


Questions about your (studie-related) career orientation? Make an appointment with the coordinator of Studies:A.C. Wapenaar MA

More info


The programme has the following objectives:

  1. to enable students to acquire academic knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the field of Latin American Studies;
  2. to enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills: – independent academic reasoning and conduct, – the ability to analyse complex problems, – academic reporting;
  3. to prepare students for an academic career and further education;
  4. to prepare students for a career outside academia.


At the start of the programme, students choose in which discipline they want to specialize: Public Policies, Cultural Analysis or Language Variation and Bilingualism.

In the first semester students follow a theoretical seminar (10 EC) and a methodological seminar (10 EC). The Theoretical seminar introduces you to relevant debates within the choosen discipline. The methodological seminar helps the student to discide on their thesis topic and prepare the research project. From mid November until the end of January students have time to travel to a choosen country within Latin America to conduct research (10 EC).

In the second semester students will choose one of the electives within the programme (10 EC). Students will also write their thesis (20 EC) based on the results of their research in Latin America.

Students who start in February follow the same programme but in a slightly different order. In their first semester the follow the methodological seminar and choose one elective. Research will take place between May and the end of August. In their second semester they will follow the theoretical seminar and write the thesis.

Master’s thesis and requirement for graduation

The master’s programme is concluded with a master’s thesis containing the results of the individual research. The thesis must approximate 20,000 words. It is evaluated by the supervisor and a second reader.

Requirements for graduation are:

  • Successful completion of all courses (30 EC)
  • Successful completion of a Research project (10 EC)
  • Successful completion of MA Thesis (20 EC)

Please note that you are also asked to fulfill certain administrative procedures, as can be found on the website of Latin American Studies.