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Studying Russian within European Languages and Cultures

Bachelor’s degree programme in European Languages and Cultures

If you choose Russian as a specialization within ETC, you will have to be motivated and willing to study hard and intensively – but you will get a lot in return. Russia is an intriguing as well as complicated country in many ways. The combination of a variety of knowledge domains and language proficiency will enable you to delve more and more deeply into the secrets of the Russians.

Does Russian even belong to European Languages and Cultures? This question might raise a few Russian eyebrows. For centuries the Russians have struggled with the question of whether they belong to Europe or to Asia, or neither. They are suspicious of the European culture, which at the same time they find hugely attractive. Catherine the Great, for example, corresponded with French philosophers such as Diderot and Voltaire. In addition, there are many European loan words in Russian, including Dutch nautical terms. Conversely, Russian influences also abound in Europe, for example through the works of many Russian writers and intellectuals.

Why Russian?

If you are interested in Russian history, politics and culture, the Russian specialization within European Languages and Cultures may be just the thing for you. It will teach you how to place Russian language, culture and literature in a wider context. You will start by acquiring background knowledge of developments in Europe, for example in the field of politics and history of the twentieth century, a period when Russia played a major role and which had great consequences for the Russians. Later on, in the course unit Russische cultuur- en letterkunde you will get to read poetry and essays in their original language, which will help you understand the societal importance of Russian literature. In particular the literature from the Soviet era will reveal between the lines how writers – and the people – really felt. Literature still plays an important role in Russia today, for example in the quest for a Russian identity, which is difficult to define in such an ethnically diverse population.


The Russian proficiency course units start in the second semester of your first year – and this is where the hard work begins. You will have to study vocabulary, practise pronunciation, learn to use six grammatical cases and get used to a new system of verbs. This is not going to be easy. During the first two years you will focus particularly on learning to read and understand Russian. During your third year you will have a chance on spending a semester at a Russian university, and this is where you will learn to speak and write the language. The University of Groningen has contacts with two universities in Saint Petersburg, but you may also choose to go to Moscow, Kazan or – why not – Kiev or Tartu.

Depending on your interests, the specialization and profile choices you make in your Bachelor’s programme and your follow-on Master’s degree programme, your degree in Russian could, for example, qualify you to become a journalist or find a career in academic research, at an international organization, in tourism or at a company that does business with Russia. Other graduates have found jobs in the diplomatic world or taken additional training to become translators or interpreters.

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Christian Hagedorn - Student of ELC Russian

‘European Languages and Cultures seemed like an interesting programme: I love cultures and travelling and I am good at languages. My Politics and Society lecturer in the first semester was really inspiring so I chose this as my profile, and Russian as my main language. It’s hard work, but my overriding interest in Russian history and politics keeps me going. I can already recognize Russian sentences in news items and television documentaries. I think this type of multifaceted programme is a good thing. I chose Middle and Eastern European Studies as my Minor and German as an extra Minor. I want to polish up my second native language. I’m going to Russia this summer. It won’t be just a cultural city trip; I want to visit the universities where I’ll be studying in my third year.’

Last modified:03 July 2019 10.53 a.m.
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