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.

Contact our students

If you want to speak to one of our student who is currently studying at VU Amsterdam, please find the contact details of our student ambassadors on this page under ‘contact our student ambassadors’.

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 programs.

Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

You start the application procedure through the Studielink.nl national application system. You will then receive an e-mail inviting you to complete your application in the VU student portal, where you will also be asked to submit all documentation needed for the admission procedure. You do not have to complete your application in one session; you can save it and come back to it as often as you want before completing and submitting it.

Required application documents:

  • CV
  • Copy of valid passport or ID (ID for EEA students only)
  • Copy of your diploma (if obtained, can also be provided after conditional admission)
  •  Copy of your latest transcript of records (if you have not graduated yet, please send us an official transcript listing the marks you have received to date). For A-level and IB applicants: include predicted Grade transcript if available.
  • Proof of sufficient English language test results (can also be provided after conditional admission)

A (to be obtained) secondary school diploma equivalent to the Dutch pre-university VWO is a primary admission criteria.

English language requirements
VU Amsterdam requires all applicants to take an English test and to submit their score as a part of the application before the given deadline.

Exceptions are made for students who have completed their score as a part of the application before the given deadline.

Exceptions are made for students who have completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia or who have obtained an International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma (English taught).

The following tests and scores are accepted: 

  • IELTS 6.5 
  • TOEFL paper based test: 580 
  • TOEFL computer based test: 237 
  • TOEFL internet based test: 92 
  • Cambridge Advanced English score A, B or C, or equivalent 

Applications to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam are done completely online. You start the application procedure through the Studielink.nl national application system. You will then receive an e-mail inviting you to complete your application in the VU student portal, where you will also be asked to submit all documentation needed for the admission procedure. You do not have to complete your application in one session; you can save it and come back to it as often as you want before completing and submitting it.

Prepare documents and apply online. Please note that it is always possible to apply online, even if your English test results or your diploma are not yet available. There is no specific place to upload your English language test in Student Portal. After finishing uploading the other documents you can send a copy of the test score per email: admissionsls@vu.nl to your International Student Advisor.

The VU Matching Programme enables you to check whether you have chosen the right degree programme. The matching programme consists of two steps: a digital questionnaire on VUnet, which is part of the application process, and a online matching activity. By taking part in the matching activity, you can check whether the programme is really the right one for you. For more information, please see the VU Matching Programme page.

For questions please contact Eva Meijerink

T: +31 20 59 86331
E: admissionsls@vu.nl

How will you be spending your time?
The BA-program 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

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English, Dutch

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.