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Note: ‘ Semester 1’ stands for Fall semester and ‘ Semester 2’ for Spring semester.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First year

Common Core Course:

Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research 10
Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities 10

Students are strongly advised to opt to take the Methodologies course mentioned above. By taking this course, they fulfill the requirement that they should take in total at least 10 EC of courses from one of the research schools over the two years.
Alternatively, students may take 10 EC worth of national research school courses over the full duration of their enrolment (note that the number of credits per course offered by the research schools varies).

Research Project Preparation 1

Core Elective Courses

  • Students need to take at least 20 EC of Core Elective Courses (600-level, course code starting with 5474I).

  • Alternatively, students may take (600-level) courses from other Research MA programmes or national research school courses over the full duration of their enrolment (note that the number of credits per course varies).

Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese (ResMA) 5
Art and Power in Asia (ResMA) 10
China’s New Workers and the Politics of Culture (ResMA) 10
China's International Political Economy (ResMA) 10
Comparative Asian Linguistics (ResMA) 10
Economic Development and Social Change in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Histories of Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
LIAS PhD Seminar: Decolonisation in Academia 5
LIAS PhD Seminar: Listening and hearing in research 5
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia (ResMA) 10
Topical Readings in Classical Japanese (ResMA) 10
Topics in Modern Chinese History (ResMA) 10
The Visual and Material Culture of Exchange in Asia and Europe, 1500-1800 (ResMA) 10
`Ulamâ' in the Modern Muslim World (ResMA) 10
Against Caste and Race: Identity and Resistance in a Global Context 5
Approaches to East Asian Cinema (ResMA) 10
Confucianism in Context (ResMA) 10
China and Global Cyberspace (ResMA) 10
China-Africa Relations in a Changing Global Order (ResMA) 10
Contemporary Indian Politics (ResMA) 10
Creativity and Culture in Contemporary China (ResMA) 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants (ResMA) 10
Hands-on Museum Research Experience (ResMA) 10
LIAS PhD Seminar: Themes in Global Political Economy 5
Oral Traditions (ResMA) 10
Political Economy of South East Asia (ResMA) 10
Politics of Culture in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
The Politics of Destruction: Targeting World Heritage (ResMA) 10
Sinographics: Chinese writing and writing Chinese (ResMA) 10
Topical Readings in Historical and Literary Chinese Texts (ResMA) 10
Topics in Chinese Art History, Things and Paths: Approaches to Chinese Art and Material Culture (ResMA) 10
Word and Image in Premodern Japanese Culture (ResMA) 10

Elective courses

  • Choose two or more courses from the courses on offer in the regular MA programmes (levels 400-500) with a minimum of 20 EC in total

  • Alternatively, students may take maximally 10 EC worth of language or other skills courses such as methods or digital humanities courses at BA-level (100–400), unless similar courses were part of the previously completed programme which gave access to this programme.

  • Students may also replace Elective Courses by Core Elective Courses (take a 600-level course instead of a 500-level course).

  • See under tab "Elective courses" for a limited list and more information.

Second year, Semester 1

Research semester

During the first semester of their second year students need to do research worth minimally 20 EC and maximally 30 EC. As the semester must have a total load of 30 EC, the remainder may be filled by taking another course at at least 400 level in the case research is less than 30 EC.

Research Project (Fieldwork) (ResMA) 19-29

Second year, Semester 2

In this semester students write their research MA Thesis.

Research MA Thesis (Middle Eastern Studies, Asian Studies) 30

The writing process is supported through a bi-weekly Thesis Writing Seminar

Thesis Writing Seminar 0

First or second year, Semester 1

Additionally, students can apply to participate in a series of extra-curricular lectures

Elective courses

The courses listed are, in principle, open to all students admitted to the MA Asian Studies (research). However, some of them may have additional entry requirements such as, for example, a particular level of language sufficiency. Please refer to the course descriptions for further details.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialisation courses offered by the MA Asian Studies programmes and specialisations:

Asian Studies (120 EC): Chinese Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in Chinese Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (120 EC): Japanese Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in Japanese Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (120 EC): Korean Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in Korean Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): History, Arts and Culture of Asia

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in History, Arts and Culture of Asia through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): Politics, Society and Economy

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in Politics, Society and Economy through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): East Asian Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in East Asian Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): Southeast Asian Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in Southeast Asian Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): South Asian Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2021-2022 academic year in South Asian Studies through the following link.

A special elective...

is the following course which aims at training the students in some skills particularly relevant if they want to pursue an academic career.

Advanced Language Courses

Students can also opt to take language courses at advanced level (MA courses, level 400-500), as part of their electives.

Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese 5
Advanced Mandarin 1 10
Advanced Mandarin: Listening & Speaking 2 5
Advanced Mandarin: Reading & Writing 2 5
Advanced Reading & Writing in Japanese 1 (60 EC) 10
Advanced Reading & Writing in Japanese 2 (60 EC) 5
Advanced Readings in Sanskrit Literature 10
Hindi Literature 10

BA-level language or other skills courses

Alternatively, students may take maximally 10 EC worth of language or other skills courses such as methods or digital humanities courses at BA-level (100–400), unless similar courses were part of the previously completed programme which gave access to this programme. See below for a limited list of available courses.

If they opt to take more than 10 EC of these BA-level courses, they will not count towards their degree, but listed on the Diploma Supplement as extra-curricular pending approval by the Board of Examiners.

Note that the number of available places for these (BA-)courses may be limited.


Note that this course is only offered in Dutch.

Mandarijn IA 15


Hindi 1 10


Indonesian 1 10


Note that some of these courses are only offered in Dutch and that if you choose to follow an elective in Japanese language you are obliged to follow all four courses.

Applied linguistics 1a: Conversation & Listening Skills 3
Applied Linguistics 1a: Kanji 2
Structure: Japanese Grammar 1a 5
Texts 1a 5


Korean 1 15


Persian Language and Culture 1 10


Sanskrit 1 10


Tibetan 1 10

Digital Humanities Courses:

Courses from the Minor Digital Humanities:
Only open as elective, if there are places left. Students from the Minor have priority.

Information Visualization and the Humanities 5
Exploring the Past in the Digital Present 5
Special Topics in Digital Humanities 5

Digital Humanities electives:

In these courses a limited number of places have been reserved for students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or the MA Asian Studies (research).

Digital Media, Culture and Society 5
Introduction to Experimental Methods for the Humanities 5
Statistics for the Humanities (Statistics I) 5
Digital Text and Data Analysis 5

More info

Programme Details

  • Title: Master of Arts

  • Duration: 2 years, full-time

  • Start date: September

  • Language of instruction: English

  • Responsibility: Programme director Master Middle Eastern Studies (research), Dr. C. Strava.1).


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 Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Sanskrit, and Tibetan). Master students in Asian 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 Asia (East Asia, South or Southeast Asia, including Tibet), 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 Asian Studies (research) are coupled with their research and thesis supervisor, one of the professors involved in the programme who (preferably) works on a topic of interest to the individual student. Together with the research and thesis supervisor, 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 (a limited number of 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 all 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).
N.B. In the right column under files you will find a useful document explaining more about which courses can be replaced by which other courses.

Research Project

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 offered bi-weekly. Students present their research during this seminar and discuss relevant issues with their peers.


Year I
Semester 1 Common Core Course: Critical Area Studies (10 ec) Core Elective Course (10 ec) Elective Course (10 ec)
Semester 2 Common Core Course: Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities or Research School courses (10 ec) Core Elective Course (10 ec) Elective Course (10 ec)
Year II
Semester 3 (Core) Elective Course (≤ 10 ec) Research Project (≥ 20 ec)
Semester 4 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.

Contact Information

Mailing address

Mailing address

MA Asian Studies (research) 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
E-mail Opening hours

Coordinator/Student adviser

Nicole A.N.M. van Os, PhD
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2937
Office hours: upon appointment through e-mail.

Start of your studies

Does the department have an introductory programme?

The introductory meeting of this programme will take place on Tuesday, September 7th, and start at 12 hrs (no endtime determined yet) in room Vriesh4/005. Further details will follow later.

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 2021-2022 and the detailed course descriptions in the Prospectus. Find your programme under Asian Studies (research) to view all courses on offer.

The timetables are available through MyTimetable. Here you can also find what courses start when. Some of them will start in the week of September 6th, others a week later in the week of September 13th.

Please note that changes in the timetable may still occur during the summer.
For information on the exam periods, (official) holidays, etc see the Academic Calendar 2021-2022.

On campus teaching

It looks as though we will begin the new academic year in September 2021 on campus once again, with no coronavirus restrictions. This means without face masks and 1.5m distancing. We know how important it is for students to meet their lecturers and one another. Studying is about collaboration, about working together on research questions, about lively debate with your lecturers and fellow students. Although we have seen over the past year that online teaching can work just fine, meeting your lecturers and students in person remains crucial to the excellent teaching that we want to offer. Physical teaching will, therefore, be the default the forthcoming semester. Students who, due to Corona, have to quarantine or are unable to participate in our on-campus teaching because of corona related travel restrictions may be offered alternative and hybrid teaching provision by their degree programmes if possible and only for the (hopefully) brief period quarantine is needed and/or the travel restrictions are in place.

Safety will, of course, continue to be a priority. In case we will have to move to online teaching again, you will be informed at the earliest possible moment.

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:

  • pay the tuition fees;

  • accept the offer in the online application portal;

  • hand in all required documents at the Admissions Office as per the instructions in your admission statement.

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 Asian 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.