Literature and Society: English

Analyze literature’s role in society

Interaction between literature and society

The focus of our programme is on the interactions between literature and society, and literature and visual culture. You will read canonical British works, and also explore contemporary novels from different English-speaking countries. In our courses, you will analyze these texts from two cutting-edge perspectives: English literature in a changing world, and English literature in a visual culture.

English literature in a changing world

How does literature react to major changes in society? Think of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. In our courses you will discover how literature can also cause social change. A famous example is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which played an important role in the abolition of slavery.

Literature has the power to change readers’ ways of looking at the world. The novel 1984 raised concerns over government surveillance of its citizens. In other words, literature is not positioned at a remove from society, but at its very center. Studying English literature therefore also entails studying the major social developments in various English-speaking countries.

English literature in a visual culture

A story is hardly ever told only in words: nineteenth-century novels were often illustrated, and contemporary fiction is marketed by its cover image. But the relation between word and image extends beyond illustrations. The same story can be told both in a novel and in a film – or even multiple films, think of Pride and Prejudice.

The graphic novel has grown out of its superhero phase and now deals with issues such as the Holocaust in Maus. The computer game Resident Evil has spawned as many as seven novels. The analysis of literature is therefore inseparably connected to knowledge of visual culture.

Study English Literature in Amsterdam

Our programme is taught by a young, dynamic, and award-winning staff who teach courses on the interactions between literature, visual culture, and social change. You will work in relatively small seminar groups, where you will be motivated to engage in critical discussions, and where you have the opportunity to grow in your personal development and follow your individual interests. Our vibrant student community invites you to join them in a variety of extracurricular activities.

If you are interested in doing an BA in English literature abroad, VU Amsterdam is an excellent choice! VU Amsterdam is known as a high-quality university with a social heart. You will benefit from the personal atmosphere and easy access to all facilities due to our campus setting, and still have the vibrant city of Amsterdam – including its museums, libraries and bars – close at hand.

Thinking of studying English Literature? Come to a taster day

Do you have a passion for English literature? Would you like to delve into the stories behind the stories that you already know? Do you love language and are you fascinated by the power and magic of stories? In that case we would be happy to meet you during one of our taster days at the VU-campus.

Each year, our graduates choose from a range of different career paths. Our graduates become high school teachers; work in translation and editing; become organizers of literary festivals; work in the publishing industry; become researchers both within academia (who write a Ph.D. dissertation after completing a Research master’s degree) and work for cultural institutions, government agencies, or NGOs. If you are considering further education, a BA in Literature and Society will qualify you to enroll in a number of Master’s programmes.

If you have obtained or will obtain a Dutch diploma, please check the criteria on our Dutch webpage.

Applicants holding a non-Dutch pre-university diploma must meet a number of requirements. If you do not yet meet the requirements but expect to do so in the future (such as obtaining your diploma), you can already apply. We will evaluate your application and inform you of our admission decision. All outstanding requirements need to be met in full by the time you enrol for the programme.

Admission to the programme will remain conditional until your certified diploma copy is received and the conditions in your admission decision letter have been met.

Requirements that apply:

  1. A diploma equivalent to the Dutch pre-university VWO diploma
    See the Diploma Requirement List for examples of accepted diplomas per country. Please note: this list is meant to give you an indication of admissibility; no rights can be derived from it.

    Applicants who do not meet this criterion may be asked to sit (an) entry exam(s) to prove they are eligible for admission.

  2. Proof of sufficient proficiency in English
    See the General Admission Requirements for the English language requirements.

 

Application Steps

  1. Check if you match the entry requirements.
  2. Register for the Bachelor’s programme before the application deadline via Studielink.
    In Studielink you select the Bachelor’s programme 'Literature and Society: English’. If you have your Studielink set to Dutch you can find the programme under ‘Literatuur en Samenleving: Engels’.
  3. After registering you will receive log-in details for VUnet.
  4. Then upload the following documents:
    • Transcript of records; a transcript in English of the grades obtained over the final two years of your high school and any further education up to the moment of your application. IB and A-level applicants are asked to upload their predicted grades.
    • A scan of your diploma (if you have already graduated).
    • Curriculum Vitae; the curriculum vitae should include your personal details and list your previous education and relevant work experience (± 1-2 pages).
    • English language test results (if already obtained).
    • Copy of valid passport or ID (ID for EEA students only).
  5. Pay the application fee and submit your application.
  6. Wait for the decision on your admission request.

For more details on all steps please consult our step-by-step application guide.

Application deadline
The final application deadline for non-EU/EEA students is April 1st and for Dutch and EU students the final deadline is May 1st. For students wishing to use our Accommodation Services an early application is recommended.

Ready to apply?
Great! Click here to start your application.

Please note: the Studielink notification “The educational institution has yet to determine whether your previous education level is sufficient“ will only be ticked after you accept your place and have sent us a certified copy of your diploma.

As a prospective student at VU Amsterdam you will take part in the VU Matching programme. The matching activity aims to give you a realistic idea of the content of the study, so you can determine if it matches your expectations and whether you have chosen the right programme.

  • Dutch nationals are expected to participate in the matching activity on campus. This activity will take place at June 9th 2020. Please consider this when planning your holiday(job). Keep an eye out for the invitation email for the matching activity, which will be sent by the end of April 2020. More general information about matching on VU Matching.

  • International students are expected to participate in a digital matching activity once they are conditionally admitted. Invitations will be sent by the end of April 2020. More general information about matching on VU Matching.

If you have questions about the matching activity, please contact the matching coordinator of the Faculty of Humanities: matching.fgw@vu.nl.

General Questions?
For students with a Dutch degree:

  • You can call us on +31 20 59 85 000 (on working days from 10.00 till 16.00 hours).
  • Or email us at contact@vu.nl.
  • You can also send us a text message via Whatsapp on +31 6 825 48 367.

Got an international degree?
You can contact the International Student Advisor of the Faculty of Humanities:

Rosa Vijftigschild - ContactRosa Vijftigschild

E: bachelors.hum@vu.nl
T: +31 20 59 85 641

Contact a Student Ambassador
Would you like to hear from an international student about what it is like to study at VU Amsterdam, the programme or the student life in Amsterdam? Contact our Student Ambassadors!

How will you be spending your time?
The BA-programme Literature and Society (English) offers a unique opportunity to combine classic literature study with two cutting-edge specializations. You will read canonical British works, such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, en Virginia Woolf. But also explore contemporary novels from different English-speaking countries. In our courses, you will analyse these texts from two cutting-edge perspectives: English literature in a changing world, and English literature in a visual culture.

In the first year you are introduced to literary analysis and literary theory. You learn how to read a Brontë novel as well as a film version of a Shakespeare play. We train your general academic skills and also kindle your creative writing practice.

After the first year, you have a solid base from which to explore the relations between literature, culture and society. We take you from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century, reading canonical English works of literature as well as new and lesser known genres such as travel literature, graphic novels and gothic genres.

You become a specialist either in ‘English literature in a changing world’ or ‘English literature in a visual culture,’ and conduct your own research project, resulting in your BA thesis.

In the first year you are introduced to literary analysis and literary theory. You learn how to read a Brontë novel as well as a film version of a Shakespeare play. We train your general academic skills and also kindle your creative writing practice.

After the first year, you have a solid base from which to explore the relations between literature, culture and society. We take you from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century, reading canonical English works of literature as well as new and lesser known genres such as travel literature, graphic novels and gothic genres.

You become a specialist either in ‘English literature in a changing world’ or ‘English literature in a visual culture,’ and conduct your own research project, resulting in your BA thesis.

Overview Literature and Society: English

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

3 years (fulltime)

APPLICATION DEADLINE

1 April (non-EEA students requiring visa and/or housing) / 1 May (all others)

START DATE

1 september 2018

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

FIELD OF INTEREST

Art, Culture and History
Language and Communication

Hana Abukar

Graduate in Literature and Society

Studying literature took my love and appreciation for reading to another level. I was able to make sense of the world around me through rich experiences brought to me in covers from distant lands. Suddenly the world around me didn’t seem so small, and I can honestly say that each text, academically approached or not, functioned like a visa or an expressway to a different enriched self.
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