In this program, we approach literature as a cultural medium from a comparative, theoretical perspective. How do different cultures and societies think about the present, remember the past, and imagine the future in and through literature? And how has literature itself been understood and theorized across historical periods and geographical boundaries? In this program, you will have the opportunity to explore these and related questions. At Utrecht, we focus on modern and contemporary literature from different language areas. What sets the Utrecht program apart is a strong focus on literary and cultural history and memory, literary theory and criticism, and world literature.

As a student in this program, you will learn to analyze the ways in which literature interacts with (and reflects on) its cultural and social environment against the background of globalization and new media technologies.


The ‘comparative’ approach characteristic for Utrecht is understood to involve a comparison between literary phenomena along three principal axes:

  1. transculturality (how does literature reflect and negotiate cultural differences and operate across national borders?)
  2. mediality (how does literature work as a medium and relate to other forms of cultural and knowledge production? how are literary phenomena adapted to other media? )
  3. memory (how do stories and cultural forms survive across generations and how are they transformed across time?)


As a graduate of this program, you will have:

  • Advanced knowledge of literary studies, particularly in the literary cultures of the modern period.
  • Thorough knowledge in a specialism within the field or at the interface with another field.
  • The academic skills to independently identify, formulate, analyze, and suggest possible solutions to theoretical and conceptual problems in the field of literary studies.
  • The academic skills to conduct original research in the field of literary studies.
  • The ability to communicate your literary research findings in a manner that meets the standards of this discipline.
  • The skills to apply your knowledge to a professional academic manner.
  • The qualifications to obtain a career as a literary researcher or to acquire a Ph.D. position in this field.

After successfully completing the Research Master’s program in Comparative Literary Studies, you will be able to formulate a research proposal for a Ph.D. project in your specialism within the field of literary studies.

The No. 1 Master's program in comparative literature in the Netherlands

The RMA Comparative Literary Studies was again voted the top Master's program in the field in the Netherlands by the Keuzegids Master's Selection Guide 2018.


Comparative Literary Studies prepares you for a range of different careers that require advanced academic skills along with expertise in the field of literature and knowledge of the contemporary media landscape. Graduates of the program are fully equipped to pursue a Ph.D. in the international field of literary studies. Your training also makes you equipped to pursue alternative career paths requiring advanced skills in analyzing and managing textual information or specific knowledge of literature in an international context (publishing, cultural and educational policy, heritage institutions). Graduates who have specialized in one language area may also find employment in international organizations.


After successfully completing the Research Master’s program in Comparative Literary Studies, you will be able to formulate a research proposal for a Ph.D. project in your specialism within the field of literary studies. Furthermore, you will have an overview of the place that your own research plan occupies in the context of international research in literary studies.

In the past, around 40% of the program’s graduates were awarded fully-funded Ph.D. positions at the following universities:

  • Utrecht University (The Netherlands)
  • Leiden University (The Netherlands)
  • Justus Liebig University Giessen (Germany)
  • Max Planck Institute Berlin (Germany)
  • Rachel Carson Center (Germany)
  • Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Queen’s University Belfast (Ireland)
  • Norwich University (United Kingdom)
  • Ludwig Maximilian University (Germany)
  • University of Sao Paulo (Brazil)
  • University of Boğaziçi (Turkey)
  • City University of New York (United States)
  • University of Stockholm (Sweden)

The high rate of acceptance into Ph.D. programs at reputable universities abroad shows that graduates of the Utrecht program are competitive in the extremely selective granting of Ph.D. positions.

Alumnus Kaspars Reinis has found a Ph.D. position in Toronto; Peter Maurits is a Ph.D. candidate at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, and alumna Maria Zirra is a Ph.D. candidate at Stockholm University.


Graduates of Comparative Literary Studies have gone on to senior-level careers in publishing (Elsevier, Oxford University Press), text editing, higher and middle education, governmental consultancy, and management. Students who do not go abroad in their second year may opt to do an internship.

Alumnae Yael van der Wouden en Thalia Ostendorf have founded their own publishing company, Uitgeverij Chaos. Alumna Loes Singeling - van der Voortworks as a reporter at de Volksrant.

Other graduates found jobs as:

  • Policy Advisor at Higher Education and Languages, NRTO
  • Editorial assistant at Oxford University Press
  • Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Defense
  • Editor at Elsevier
  • French teacher at HVC

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Last updated November 30, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
2 years
2,083 EUR
Dutch and other EU/EEA students (statutory fee 2019-2020): € 2,083. Non-EU/EEA students (institutional fee): 2018-19: € 15,575, 2019-20: € 16,600
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