Master of Arts in Historical Linguistics and Literature

Course content

This master is one of three master programmes that build further on the Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and Literature: two languages. The programme combines the expertise in the field of historical linguistics and literature for about ten languages or groups of languages. The programme is also suited for undergraduates who hold a different degree in humanities and have a special interest in historical texts of all kinds whether these are handwritten or printed documents. In this programme, linguistics and literature are not considered as isolated fields of study: texts are always situated within the culture-historical context of their origins and use.

The Master of Arts in Historical Linguistics and Literature aims to familiarize students with analytical methods that demonstrate the determinacy of texts and provide insights into other linguistic expressions. By doing so, the programme responds to the needs of the cultural sector, where there is an increasing interest in national and international heritage, in libraries and archives, in the history of the book and the effects of the past.

Only Ghent University offers this Master of Arts in Historical Linguistics and Literature. Disregard the warning above the programme is taught both in Dutch and English.

Course structure

The Master in Historical Linguistics and Literature consists of three components: two compulsory courses and five electives (mostly literature or linguistics, 35 credits), an internship (10 credits) and a dissertation (15 credits). The course structure allows students to tailor the programme according to their own study interests and prepares them thoroughly for the career path they choose.

In the compulsory course Research Project students are invited, under the guidance of a tutor, to compile their own course contents that can, for instance, consist in synthesizing scholarly literature, attending lectures or participating in a summer school. The list of electives offers many courses in which the study of texts and linguistic expressions from about ten languages are the central focus. These electives can be combined at will, provided that the student possesses the necessary background knowledge to start a course. One can also enroll for courses which are of the field of history or choose a course taught at another Flemish university.
Further, the Master in Historical Linguistics and Literature offers professional and research internships. A professional internship prepares for a job in a cultural heritage institution in Belgium or abroad, whereas a research internship will provide students with a unique opportunity to explore his study area thoroughly and to prepare for a career as researcher.
The master’s dissertation is a requirement for every candidate in order to obtain a master‘s degree.

If you want to combine your master’s degree with a teacher’s degree, then there is the option of following an ‘Educatieve master’ instead of the above described master. The ‘Educatieve master’ however is a Dutch taught programme. More information can be found on

Career perspectives

A Master in Historical Linguistics and Literature offers training in the same general skills as a Master in Linguistics and Literature. Moreover, through the internship students have the added benefit to experience their first contact with the labour market.

Alumni of the Master in Historical Linguistics and Literature are well prepared to find employment in one of the traditional career opportunities of the Master in Linguistics and Literature, such as research, the cultural sector, business, and education. For employment in the educational sector, you can obtain the certificate of the (new) two year Educational Master's program by combining your Master's degree in HTL with the successful completion of an abbreviated program of 60 ECTS (= 1 year) which consists of pedagogical courses.

However, the added value that the Master in Historical Linguistics and Literature offers its students is the broad historical perspective on language and its cultural components, and the unique combination of skills that can be acquired due to the flexibility of course structure of its programme. Considering that the historical components of language, literature and the cultural past are thoroughly scrutinized, students can respond to the increased demand of the cultural sector for research and management of the written past. The Master in Historical Linguistics and Literature provides an excellent preparation for the advanced masters, such as the Master of Arts in Archival Science: Cultural Heritage Management and Records Management or the Master of Advanced Studies in Linguistics.