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first year

The MA programme is made up of the following main elements (all of which are worth 10 ECTS credits, unless stated otherwise):

  • Tutorial – Intensive study of primary source material

  • Pensum – Guided reading of primary/secondary literature assigned by the teaching staff (this Pensum may be replaced by a second tutorial within the department)

  • Option – This is a free option. You can choose to direct your study in-line with your particular interests. Examples include following a master class taught in the M.Phil programme, practical training or spending time on thesis preparation

  • Thesis [20 ECTS]

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2
History, Theory, Nation: Readings from the South 10
Sharing the tales of the Buddha: narrative art in Asia 10

More info



The programme Indian & Tibetan Studies at Leiden University offers a broad range of perspectives on the Indian cultural world. Its staff has a wide expertise in many aspects of Indian civilization, which is studied on the basis of original source materials, such as texts in a variety of Indian languages and diverse forms of material culture, as well as long-term fieldwork in the South Asian Subcontinent.

Areas of specialisation within this enormous domain include Mughal History and the study of archival sources on early modern South Asia from the Dutch East India Company; ancient Indian coinage and epigraphy; Hindu-Buddhist iconography; the Hindu and Buddhist religions and their textual basis; sociolinguistic issues concerning classical and modern Indian languages; literary analysis of colonial and post-colonial Indian literature. The programme aims to raise students to a level of knowledge and skills that allows them to proceed to PhD research. Alternatively, graduates qualify for positions outside the university that require an academic level of thinking.


Structure Under close individual guidance from the staff, the Leiden MA programme in Indian & Tibetan Studies offers students the chance to deepen their understanding of the Indian cultural world. The programme is arranged in the following 7 specialisations:

Sanskrit Students specialising in Sanskrit are offered the chance to broaden and deepen their experience with Sanskrit literature by focusing on a number of texts selected from among those genres which play the most prominent part in the research of the staff-members: Vedic literature, Middle Indic literature (literary, Jaina, Buddhist), Kâvya, Indian and Southeast Asian epigraphy, Epic/Puranic literature.

Hindi Students who specialise in Hindi will be trained in discussing and interpreting literary Hindi texts. The focus is primarily on modern (19th and 20th century) literary texts, which will be analysed through narratology, reception theory, or other appropriate methods of literary research. Occasionally, medieval Hindi texts may be studied. The texts are selected around a central theme, for example, colonialism/postcolonialism, gender roles, or autobiography.

History The specialisation in History invites students to focus on the medieval and early-modern history of South Asia. It provides them with the opportunity to combine the study of Indian (mainly Indo-Persian but also other) documents with the rich and still underused collections of the Dutch East India Company at the National Archives in The Hague.

Arts and Material Culture Students opting for this specialisation will use primary source materials, such as photographs and photographic digital databases on South Asian art and architecture, and relevant objects from museum collections, along with visual data from secondary sources. Different art-historical methods will be used, varying from iconography (/iconology) and stylistics to a study of functionality and reception. Students are invited to investigate such themes as the iconography of royalty and the divine (studying the linked iconography of sculptures and coins); narrative art (Buddhist, Jain, Hindu) and its functionality; or the early manifestations of successful forms in India’s architecture, such as pillared halls, domed structures and gateways.

Buddhism and Tibet Students who choose a specialisation in the study of Buddhism and/or Tibet will focus on Indian and/or Tibetan Buddhist texts and their (religious-)historical context. The genre of the textual sources selected for reading will belong to the particular fields of expertise of the staff, for example, Indo-Tibetan treatises concerning Buddhist hermeneutics; Mahāyāna Buddhist philosophy; Buddhist scholastics; indigenous linguistics and language-philosophy.

The MA programme consists of the following elements:

  • Tutorial (10 ects): intensive study of primary source material.

  • Option (10 ects): option A: Pensum supervised reading of primary/secondary literature assigned by the teaching staff ; option B: Master class Asian Studies

  • Regional Seminar (10 ects): This mandatory course focuses on the processes which have shaped South Asian regional cultures, and invites students to consider these processes from their own disciplinary background.

  • Option (10 ects): this free option allows students to give their studies the direction most in line with their interests. Examples: Master Class taught in the RESMA Asian Studies, practical training, or extra time for thesis preparation.

  • Thesis (20 ects)

For more information, and for examples of how each specialisation can be fleshed out, see

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have completed a total of 60 ects, including courses and the master’s thesis. The thesis of the master’s programme in Indian and Tibetan Studies has the weight of 20 ECTS-credits and generally consists of a maximum of 17,000 words, including notes, bibliography and appendices. Also see Regulations