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From Ottoman Empire to Turkish Republic


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Arabic, Persian and Turkish Languages and Cultures or to the Research Master Area Studies: Asia and the Middle East, Specialization Middle Eastern Studies. Proficient reading skills in modern Turkish (level B2 European Common Framework). Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programs and/or are not sure whether they meet the language requirement are requested to contact the convener, Prof. Dr. Erik-Jan Zürcher.


Modern Turkey came into existence in the period 1908-1945, in which traumatic and revolutionary developments followed each other in quick succession: the constitutional revolution, eleven years of war, mass migration and mass murder, the end of a 600-year old empire and almost the partition of the remains among the victors in World War I. At the same time it is the period of political experiments, the building of a national economy and the birth of Turkish nationalism. The republic is both heir to all of these developments and a daring experiment in nation building and modernization.

Course objectives

The course aims to use the historical context of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of a new nation state, the Republic of Turkey, to discuss and analyze four major issues that played a dominant role in the history of this period: the emergence of the modern state, the impact of war, nationalism and nation building, and the role of religion and secularism.



Mode of instruction

Seminar (werkcollege)

Assessment method

The final grade of this course will be composed of the following elements:

  • In-class participation and preparedness (20%)

  • Presentation on a course related topic in class (30%)

  • 5000-word essay (term paper) (50%)

Students who earn a mark lower than 6 owing to insufficient participation, including the presentation, will have to sit a written examination on the subjects discussed during the course. The result will contribute 50% to the final mark.
Students who do not deliver a term paper on time will automatically fail the course.
Attendance: Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two classes, provided they have a valid reason. Students, who miss more than two classes, are required to resit the course



Reading list

A full set of selected readings can be found in the course description on Blackboard.


Through uSis

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Prof.dr. E.J Zürcher