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Middle Eastern 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) (see also document on the right side). 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 abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity (see also document on the right side). 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.

Students must submit their assignment(s) to the blackboard through turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Common Core Courses and MA Thesis (30 EC)

Choose one of the following courses during your first semester:

Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 1 10
Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 2 10
Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 2 10
Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 3 10

MA Thesis

MA Thesis Middle Eastern Studies 20

Choose on of the following two seminars (during the semester you write your thesis):

Thesis Seminar in Middle East and Islamic Studies (Fall) 0
Thesis Seminar in Middle East and Islamic Studies (Spring) 0

Elective Courses (choose up to 30 EC of courses):

Preferably, you do 20 EC in your first semester; 10 EC in your second semester.

Constructing Digital Language Toolkits 10
From Inkwell to Internet: Text and Transmission in the Muslim World (10 EC) 10
From Inkwell to Internet: Text and Transmission in the Muslim World (5 EC) 5
International Relations of the Middle East and Asia (IRMEA) 10
Literature and Politics in the Persian-speaking World 10
The Making of the Modern Middle East (1870-1940) 10
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia 10
Modern Muslim Qur'an Interpretation 10
The Middle East in the International Political Economy 10
Narratives That Matter: Literature, Film and Television Drama in Turkey 10
Oil, Waste and Water: Environmental Issues in the Middle East and North Africa 10
Sacred Journeys: Pilgrimage and Holy Places 5
Sacred Journeys: Pilgrimage and Holy Places 10
Sharia in the West 5
Themes in Arabic Literature: Bandits and Outlaws 10
War, Peace, and Mass Media: The Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Public Sphere 10
Muslims in a Global Context: Anthropological Approaches 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants 10
Culture and Society in the Medieval Muslim World 10
Social and Cultural History of the Middle East: the Ottoman Empire (1300-1922) 10
International Relations in the Middle East: Regional Struggle and Great Power Rivalry after the Cold War 10
Political History of the Middle East in the 20th Century 10
Power and Resistance in the Modern Middle East 10
`Ulamâ’ in the Modern Muslim World 10

Language courses

Alternatively, students can take up to 10 EC maximum of language courses at beginner’s or intermediate level (i.e. BA-courses), but only under the condition that similar courses were not part of the BA-programme which gave access to the programme.
Note that beginner's level courses are only on offer in the Fall semester.

Beginner's Turkish 1 5
Beginner's Turkish 2 5
Indonesian 1 10
Language Acquisition Modern Hebrew 1 5
Language Acquisition Modern Hebrew 2 5
Language Acquisition Persian 1 5
Language Acquisition Persian 2 5
Modern Standard Arabic 1 5
Modern Standard Arabic 2 5
Modern Uyghur 5
Ottoman Turkish (Fall) 10
Ottoman Turkish (Spring) 10


An internship does not count towards the degree.

Internship Middle Eastern Studies

More info

Objectives Structure 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.

For a more detailed overview of the programme's objectives see the Course and Exam Regulations of the Programme.

The objectives regarding general academic skills can be found in the Course and Exam Regulations of the Faculty.



The master’s programme in Middle Eastern Studies consists of two semesters of 30 EC each. 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 elective courses which cater to their interest.

In the second semester students all students take one more elective course of 10 EC specific to their interest. All students also work on their MA Thesis (20 ects) during the second semester. To support the writing process, they participate in the ‘Thesis Seminar in Middle East and Islamic Studies.’

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must successfully complete 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.

Contact Information

Mailing address

MA Middle Eastern Studies programme
Secretariat Vrieshof 4, rm 112a
P.O.Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands

Visiting address (also address for courier services)

Matthias de Vrieshof 4, 2311BZ Leiden
Witte Singel 25, 2311BG Leiden


Matthias de Vrieshof 4, room 112a
Phone +31 (0)71 527 2253
Opening hours: Monday - Thursday: 10:00-12:30 and 13:30-16:00; Friday: 10:00-13:00

Coordinators/Student advisers

N.A.N.M. van Os, PhD and E.G. van Duijnen, MA
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2937
Office hours: upon appointment (send an email)

Start of your Studies

Frequently asked questions about the start of the study MA Middle Eastern Studies.

Does the department have an introductory programme?

Yes, we will organise a compulsory Introduction Day for the MA Middle Eastern Studies programme in Leiden on Monday, 2 September, 2019.

Programme Introductory Meeting MA Middle Eastern Studies, Monday, 2 September, 2019.

Time Activity Who Room
10.30 – 11.00 hrs Coffee and Cookies MA Middle Eastern Studies students VRIESH4 / Café Noord
11.00 – 12.00 hrs Welcome & general info on the programme MA Middle Eastern Studies students VRIESH4 / 008A
12.00 - 13.00 hrs Information on courses All MA Middle Eastern Studies and MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) students VRIESH4 / 008A
13.00 - 14.00 hrs Lunch All MA Middle Eastern Studies, MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and MA Asian Studies (research) students VRIESH4 / Café Noord

Directions and map

Directions on how to get from Leiden Central Station to the Faculty of Humanities.

Most rooms are situated at the Witte Singel Doelen-Complex, the location of the Faculties of Humanities.

How do I get hold of my prospectus and lecture timetable?

You can find the courses for the academic year 2019-2020 and the detailed course descriptions in the e-Prospectus. Find your programme under Middle Eastern Studies to view all courses on offer. The timetables are available on the programme website.

For information on the exam periods, (official) holidays, etc see the Academic Calendar 2019-2020.

Is there anything more I need to do to complete my enrolment?

If the Admissions Office sent you a conditional decision upon admission, please make sure that all documents, as listed in your admission statement, are handed in before 1 September. Only if you are a graduate from Leiden University, you do not have to hand in a certified diploma or statement regarding your graduation.

Registration for courses

Once your registration with Leiden University is complete and you have received your Student Identity Number, log in name and password, you will be able to enroll online for all courses (and later for exams) through uSis. You will also have to enroll for courses at Blackboard.

Where can I buy my study books and study material?

To find out what books you will need for next year, you can visit the e-Prospectus. Here you will find the course descriptions of the courses you will be taking, with the required literature.

Where do I go for any further information I may need?

General information on the programme is available at the Middle Eastern Studies (MA) website. You will have to log in the first time you visit this page. Once you have done this your cookies will enable you to enter this page further without problems.

For questions related to more general issues of registration, housing and other practicalities around your coming to Leiden and Leiden University, please, refer to the university's FAQ base.

For any other questions you may contact the student advisors, Ms. Nicole van Os and Ms. Eli van Duijnen.