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History and Culture of Modern Turkey


Admission Requirements

Students who have successfully completed the propedeutic exam of the BA Middle Eastern Studies. Students from other relevant bachelors programmes (e.g. International Studies, Political Science, History) interested in taking this course are requested to contact co-ordinator of studies


The course History and Culture of Modern Turkey (1923-now) builds on the course Middle East History II, but with its exclusive focus on modern Turkish history profoundly deepens the knowledge gained in this general course. The course History and Culture of Modern Turkey (1923-now) also forms the second part of a specialized track on Turkish history and culture from 1300 to the present day. The first part of this track is the course Ottoman History and Culture (1300-1922).
This course is an introduction to the field of Turkish Studies which critically studies the contemporary history and social culture of the Republic of Turkey in national and international affairs. Turkish Studies is becoming a popular field within Middle Eastern Studies as well as part of European and International Studies. The study of modern Turkey has a relevance for several reasons. First, Turkey’s imperial past, as the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, comes with a special (and sometimes troublesome) legacy in domestic and regional politics. Second, Turkey is considered a bridge country located at the crossroads of the West and the East, which not only created a conflicting set of geopolitical entanglements, but also provided a contested role for Turkey in civilizational debates. Thirdly, certain key issues such as the Armenian and the Kurdish questions continue to effect Turkish state and society, as they remain unsolved with an increasing complexity in domestic and foreign affairs. Lastly, due to the certain “special path” of state formation, modernization, and democratization Turkey went through since the founding of the Kemalist Republic in 1923, Turkish state and society have repeatedly been discussed either as a promising model or as a cautionary tale for other states and societies. For these reasons, a new brand of comparative and critical Turkish Studies emerged as a transdisciplinary area study in contemporary history and the social sciences. This course is an overview of the central themes and recent approaches in researching the history and culture of the Turkish Republic.

Course objectives

Students will gain advanced knowledge on the modern history and contemporary politics of Turkey through reading, presenting, and discussing research literature and weekly news reporting. Students will be able recognize and critically review the dominant paradigms in the study of modern Turkey. Students will develop skills in doing independent and guided research. Students will learn and practice to do presentations and writing academic papers.



Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course load

5 EC x 28 hrs = 140 hrs
Seminars (13 x 2) 26
Preparing for seminars and midterm 42
Midterm 2
Oral presentation 10
Writing final paper 60

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
the midterm 25%
oral presentation and participation (including text summary, Blackboard posts, news briefing, debating) 25%
2500-word term paper 50%

The course consists of weekly seminars. Students give first 10-minute news briefing of weekly politics based on news coverage previously shared on the Blackboard, followed by discussions. After that students give 10-minute presentations on the reading material provided for that week with a one-page summary, followed by a discussion (altogether 25%). Third, the subject of the mid-term test (25%) is based on separate reading assignments from the textbook Erik Jan Zürcher, Turkey: A Modern History, fourth revised edition (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017). Third, each student writes a term paper as the final assignment of the course (50%).

The final mark for this course is determined by the weighted average. An additional requirement is that students must pass their term paper. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
Late submissions will result in a deduction of marks for the written assignment as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Submissions more than 96 hs late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade of 1,0 for the term paper.


A re-sit is available only to students whose mark on the term paper was insufficient (5.49 or lower). In such cases, the lecturer can assign the student a new topic for the final paper, and will set the re-sit deadline at least 10 working days after the fail grade has been issued.

Reading list

In addition to the required readings for each week of the course, students are expected to read:
Zürcher, Erik J. Turkey: A Modern History. Fourth revised edition. London: I.B. Tauris, 2017 (only Part II and Part III).


Through uSis

Registration 'contractonderwijs’


Contact information

Dr. A.A. Yenen


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the above-mentioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic intregity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).
It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for, on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimise overlap between prior and new work.