Latin American Studies, 2015-2016

This master programme has been consciously designed to understand contemporary Latin America by mainly focusing on key social, political, and cultural issues which today are crucial for all the countries which constitute this region. Students learn to work with brand new academic interpretations about the impact of globalization on Latin American societies and the regional responses to the multiple challenges modernity has posed to these nations. The focus on the present-day reality of the region aims also to increase the social relevance of the acquired knowledge as well as the future professional perspectives of our graduates.

An important feature of the master programme on Latin American Studies is the fact that teaching is entirely provided in the Spanish language, making it unique in Northern Europe. This not only facilitates the study of academic works and reports from Latin America which has been just published, but it also elevates the students’ command of this universal language to a very high academic level. Students can write their papers and thesis in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

This master programme is strongly focused on research. Students receive a thorough training in the use of research methods which allow them to formulate and to implement their own fieldwork investigations. They have to conduct an independent research during a two-month stay in a Latin American country, which will constitute the basis of their final master thesis.

The master programme in Latin American Studies has three disciplinary tracks; Public Policies in Latin America (modern history); Cultural Analysis in Latin America (literature) and Language Variations and Bilingualism (linguistics). The students must decide in advance which pathway they want to go follow. Each of these tracks is oriented towards the analysis of key contemporary themes.

For more information about this master programme, please contact:
Public Policies: Prof. Dr. P. Silva
Cultural Analysis: Dr. N. Timmer
Language Variation: Dr. P. Gonzalez

Public Policies in Latin America

Students choosing modern history will get a programme on public policies and social development. They learn what exactly 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

The Cultural Analysis track within the LAS Master programme is centred on the study of Latin American cultural expressions considered in relation to their social, political, aesthetic and philosophical 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, theatre, performance, film and popular culture (soap operas, comic strips, song lyrics). Also of interest will be social discourses articulated in political programmes and manifestos, the media, fashion, new media (blogs), advertising, etc.

Language Variation and Bilingualism

Students choosing linguistics will get a programme focusing on language variation and bilingualism. Students learn for instance how the variation in the use of the Spanish language in present-day Latin America is an expression of different historical processes, social stratification, countryside-city contrasts, and ethnic composition of the population. Attention is paid to communalities and differences in the use of Spanish in different Latin American subregions (Central America, the Caribbean, and South America) as well as the phenomenon of bilingualism in countries with a large indigenous population.

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Objectives
Programme
Master’s thesis and requirement for graduation

Objectives

Graduates of the master’s programme in Latin American Studies have acquired:

Graduates of the programme must have achieved the following learning qualifications:

  1. Knowledge and Insight:

a. Graduates possess comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the subjects which are central in one of the three disciplinary paths: Public Policy and Social Programmes in Latin America; Cultural Analysis of Image and Discourse in Latin America; and Language Variation and Cultural Change.

b. Graduates have knowledge of the most important contemporary theoretical debates about one of the central subjects and they are able to critically reflect on those debates.

  1. Application of Knowledge and Insight

a Graduates have the ability to analyse the texts which are treated in his/her path in an critical manner and to place them in their cultural and historical context.

b. Graduates are able to translate the acquired knowledge on key issues and the academic debates around them into relevant research questions, which in terms of content and scope can be studied in an independent research.

c. Graduates have a thorough knowledge of up-to-date research methods used in the followed path (such as interviewing techniques, cultural analysis, and so forth) and are able to operationalize this knowledge in an independent way into a concrete and feasible research design.

d. Graduates are able to carry out an independent research in Latin America and they possess the intercultural skills to work there with relevant individuals and institutions.

  1. Judgement

a. Graduates are able to make careful considerations about the academic merits and utility of academic arguments and of material that underlies at the basis of their research and subsequent final report.

b. Graduates can form a good judgment about the social, cultural and ethical aspects which should be taken into account when conducting and reporting about their research.

  1. Communication

a. Graduates are capable of making well-structured and clear oral presentations on an academic subject for an audience of specialists or non-specialists

b. Graduates are able to make to individuals and institutions that can contribute to this research. Clearly in a concise manner theme and purpose of their research

c. Graduates are able to present in a concise and clear manner the subject and the goals of their research to individuals and institutions which can contribute to this research.

  1. Learning Skills

a Graduates possess the learning skills that enable them to pursue a follow-up study which demands a great amount of self-organization and self-sufficiency, such as writing a PhD thesis.

b. Graduates are able to apply the acquired knowledge, insights and skills in a work environment, even if it not totally match with the followed disciplinary path or if it not related to the Latin American region.

After completing this programme, students will have the knowledge and competence
needed for positions outside the academic field that require an academic level of
thinking, for an upper secondary teaching qualification or for a PhD position.

Please note: if you have completed an Educational Minor as your optional subject, you
are allowed to follow a fast-track Educational MA (30 ects instead of 60 ects). Please see:
iclon.leidenuniv.nl

Programme

Structure

Two aspects are to the basis of the master’s programme: specialisation in a certain
discipline (Literature, Linguistics or Modern History) and a period of research in the
chosen discipline, which takes place in Latin America.

The master’s programme starts with a research seminar in which students are taught
the basics required to carry out fieldwork in one of the three disciplines, and to design a
research plan. In addition, students follow a disciplinary tutorial on current debates in
one of the relevant disciplines. This is followed by a period of individual fieldwork in a
Latin American country, in the course of which the research plan is carried out. Students
are expected to have returned to the Netherlands during the second half of January in
order to present the results of their research to the relevant lecturer/supervisor. Early
in February, students follow a disciplinary master’s course that provides support in the
process of writing the master’s thesis.

Master’s thesis and requirement for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have completed 60 EC of courses including the
writing of the thesis. The master’s programme is concluded with a master’s thesis
containing the results of the individual research. The thesis must approximate 17,000
words. It is evaluated by the relevant lecturer/supervisor and assisted by a second reader.
Also see: hum.leiden.edu/students/regulations

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