Title: Master of Arts
Duration: 2 years, full-time
Start date: September
Language of instruction: English
Responsibility: Programme director Master Middle Eastern Studies (research), Prof.dr. J.A. Silk.
This research master provides core training in an Area Studies approach to knowledge, opportunities for the development of disciplinary skills (politics, history, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.), and possibilities to build upon regional and language specialisation (such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hebrew). Master students in Middle Eastern Studies develop sophisticated theoretical and methodological tools for scholarly reflexivity as well as tools specific for their research projects – which may be framed in more conventionally disciplinary and regional terms. They are guided to understand the parameters of the various disciplines and the ways in which they may be creatively combined into sophisticated forms of inter-disciplinarity, suitable to their subject matter. Students develop in-depth knowledge of one of the regions of the Middle East and/or a transregional/comparative perspective that tracks particular themes through their relationship with ‘areas.’
Preferably during the first weeks after the start of their studies, the students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) are coupled with an “academic advisor”, one of the professors involved in the programme who (preferably) works on a topic of interest to the individual student. Together with his or her “academic advisor” the student composes a programme which caters to her or his interest.
Common Core Courses
The programme consists of four semesters with a course load of 30 EC each. The courses have a weight of 10 EC each (some language courses have a weight of 5 EC) and students generally follow three courses per semester. During the first year students have to take two Common Core Courses: ‘Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research’ (Fall Semester) and ‘Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities ’ (Spring Semester). The first one of these courses is obligatory for students of both the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and the MA Asian Studies (research) and attended by them jointly. The other one may be replaced by courses from one (or more) of the national Dutch research schools in the Humanities.
Core Electives and Electives
Besides these Common Core Courses students take elective courses. The programme offers two kinds of electives: “core electives” and “electives”. Students need to choose at least two “core elective” courses (20 EC in total) during their first year. These core electives are courses which are also attended by regular MA students, but they aim at the same time at offering an extra intellectual challenge to the students of the research MA: during the course more challenging literature is read and extra tutorials are offered by the converners of the courses to discuss the literature read. Moreover, the assignments are assessed at a higher level to cater to the higher intellectual need of research MA students. Alternatively, students may opt to join LIAS PhD candidates in the LIAS PhD Seminars.
The remaining regular “electives” (20 EC in total) are courses attended jointly with the students of the regular MAs and lack the extra challenges offered by the “core electives”.
It is also possible to take courses from other programmes, but when students choose to do so, they need to obtain approval from the Board of Examiners first. Students should be aware, though, that for some of the courses a certain level of knowledge of a particular language is required (see course descriptions).
Students are expected to spend the third semester of the programme on their research research project. They may combine this research project with taking a course of maximum 10 EC either in Leiden or at an affiliated institution.
The last semester: Thesis Writing Seminar and MA Thesis
After the students have finished their research project, they write their Research MA Thesis. The process of writing is supported by a “Thesis Seminar” which is obligatory and offered bi-weekly. Students present their research during this seminar and discuss relevant issues with their peers.
||(Core) Elective Course (≤ 10 ec)
||Research Project (≥ 20 ec)
||Thesis and Thesis Writing Seminar (30 ec)
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
In the first year the students start working on their individual research project proposal, while the research project itself will take place in the first semester of the second year. This will result in a master’s thesis. The thesis must be based on the student’s own research, including primary data. The fourth semester is entirely reserved for the writing of the thesis. During this semester, the students gather on a regular base under the guidance of Prof. Jonathan Silk in the Thesis Writing Seminar to discuss their progress.
In order to graduate, students need to have successfully completed the 120 EC programme including the thesis (30 EC) as part of that programme. The thesis should be related to the expertise of at least one of the members of staff involved in the programme.
MA Middle Eastern Studies programme
Secretariat Vrieshof 4, rm 112a
2300 RA Leiden
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
N.A.N.M. van Os, PhD
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2937
Office hours: upon appointment through e-mail.
Start of your studies
Frequently asked questions about the start of the study MA Middle Eastern Studies (research).
Does the department have an introductory programme?
The introductory meeting of this programme will take place on Tuesday, September 1st, and start at 13 hrs (no end time determined yet) in room Lipsius/028.
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 2020-2021 and the detailed course descriptions in the Prospectus. Find your programme under Middle Eastern Studies (research) 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 2020-2021.
Is there anything more I need to do to complete my enrolment?
Make sure to complete your enrolment no later than 31 August. For this you need to:
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. See for more information the item "Course registration" in the course descriptions. You may also want to have a look at this tutorial video.
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 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 (research) (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.
A special page is dedicated to the answers and questions on Covid-19 related issues.
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 advisor, Ms. Nicole van Os.