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Middle Eastern Studies: Modern Middle East Studies

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 accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. 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).

First Year

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Semester 1 (Fall semester)

Common Core Courses

Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 10
Bi-weekly Staff Seminar in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies 0

Specialisation courses: choose two or more of the following courses up to a total of 20 EC with a maximum of 10 EC language courses.

(Courses with a course load of 5 EC may be extended to 10 EC by writing an extra paper. Please, contact the convenor at the start of the course if you need or want 10 EC).

The Ottoman Empire and Europe 10
Literature and Politics in the Persian-speaking World 10
From Inkwell to Internet: Transmission of Texts and Knowledge in the Islamic World 5
Anthropology of Muslim Societies 10
Global Christianity: the Middle East (1800-present) 5.0/10.0
Language Acquisition Turkish (beginner's level) 10
Language Acquisition Persian 1 (beginner's level) 5
Language Acquisition Persian 2 (beginner's level) 5

Semester 2 (Spring semester)

Common Core Courses

Bi-weekly Staff Seminar in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies 0
MA Thesis, Middle Eastern Studies 20

Specialisation Course

Developments in the Modern Middle East 10

More info

Contact information


The multidisciplinary approach to a geographical area, the Middle East and North Africa, throughout history is characteristic of this programme. Using the rich collections of the University Library and other institutions the programme incorporates both the long textual tradition of Leiden University and the most up-to-date theories and approaches of history, literature, linguistics and the social sciences.



The master’s programme in Middle Eastern Studies consists of two semesters, each consisting of 30 EC. In the first semester students follow three courses of 10 EC each. In the second semester students take one more 10 EC course and write their MA-Thesis (20 EC).

In the first semester all students take the course ‘Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies’ (10 EC). In this course the emphasis lies on the relevance (or lack thereof) of contemporary theories, concepts and models from the social sciences for the study of the Middle East. Students are familiarised with a variety of methods to obtain and interpret information from different types of sources. In addition to this common course, students take two courses which are specific to their specialisation. Furthermore, all students take part in the ‘Bi-weekly Staff Seminar Middle East and Islamic Studies’ in which the students and other invited speakers present their ongoing research.

The ‘Bi-weekly Staff Seminar’ is continued in the second semester. During this semester students of the specialisations Arabic, Persian, Islamic and Modern Middle East Studies continue their studies at Leiden University. Students of the specialisation Turkish Studies spend the second semester at a partner university in Turkey or complete their coursework at Leiden University. The master’s programme is concluded with an MA-Thesis (20 ects).

N.B. For students starting in the Spring Semester the programme will be slightly adapted.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 60 EC programme including their MA-Thesis as a component of that programme. The thesis carries 20 EC, and as a rule should not exceed a maximum of 20,000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. The thesis is preferably supervised by a lecturer of the School of Middle Eastern Studies who possesses the appropriate expertise in the field addressed in the thesis. The Department ensures that students are put in contact with a lecturer for thesis supervision, preferably at the commencement of the programme. More details on the procedures regarding the MA-Thesis can be found in the course description.


The MA programme in Middle Eastern Studies offers the following specialisations:

Arabic Studies
Islamic Studies
Modern Middle East Studies
[ Persian Studies](/studies/2719/middle-eastern-studies-persian-studies /)
[ Turkish Studies](/studies/2720/middle-eastern-studies-turkish-studies /)

Sector Plan

Students of the specialisation Arabic Studies can opt to take a course at the University of Amsterdam within the context of the so-called Sector Plan. For more information contact your Co-ordinator of Studies, Nicole A.N.M. van Os