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History and Culture of Modern Turkey


Admission Requirements

This class is intended (in order of preference) for:

  • (1) students of the BA Middle Eastern Studies who have successfully completed the propedeutic exam of the BA Middle Eastern Studies;

  • (2) premaster students for the MA Middle Eastern Studies;

  • (3) students from other programmes. Please contact the coordinator of studies, Eli van Duijnen, to find out whether you can be admitted to this class.


The course History and Culture of Modern Turkey builds on the course History of the Middle East 2 (1500-present), 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 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.

Turkey is always in the news. While Turkish foreign policy is deeply involved in the conflicts of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, the growing authoritarian populism has disconcerting effects on society and culture of Turkey. Expertise on Turkey’s contemporary history, complex political affairs, and vibrant cultural life is sought after ever than before. This course offers a critical introduction to modern history, discussion of contemporary politics, and a view into social and cultural life of Turkey.

First, the course will offer a critical reading of Turkey’s modern history in two formative periods, namely the Young Turk period that defined the transition from empire to republic and the Cold War period that defined Turkey’s democracy and political culture in the second half of the twentieth century. Second, the course will offer a critical discussion of the contemporary period that is characterized by drastic shifts in Turkish foreign and domestic politics. Third, the course will address themes of cultural life and social issues in Turkey in historical and contemporary times.

Course objectives

Students will be able to:

  • give an overview of the political history of modern Turkey in regards to themes of continuity and change;

  • assess the academic literature on a given theme and summarize its main paradigms and debates;

  • report on contemporary political and cultural developments in Turkey based on online research;

  • write a paper that answers a relevant research question through an assessment of secondary literature and use of primary sources and theory.


Visit MyTimetable.

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
Preparation, assignments, and participation 54
Midterm assignment 20
Writing final paper 40

Assessment method

Partial Assessment Weighing
the midterm assignment 25%
Preparation, assignments, and participation 25%
2500-word term paper 50%

Students are expected to prepare for class, do the assignments, including presentations, (altogether 25%). Second, there will be a mid-term assignment based on preparing an annotated bibliography on the topic of the term paper (25%). 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, which will be communicated at the beginning of the semester, 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’



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.