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Asian Studies (Research)

More information can be found under the tab “More info” and on the department’s website.

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 accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.


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

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First year

Common Core Course I:

Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research 10

Common Core Course II (10 EC)

Students are required to take in total at least 10 EC of courses from one of the research schools over the two years. Students may opt to fulfill this requirement by taking the Mixed Methods course mentioned below.

Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities 10
Research School Course(s) 10

Core Elective Courses: choose two or more of the following courses with a minimum of 20 EC in total*

  • Alternatively students may opt to choose one or more (600-level) courses from one of the other Research Masters or from one of the research schools. NB: students should be aware, though, that not all courses on offer carry a weight of 10 EC and additional courses may thus be required.
LIAS PhD Seminar: Canon and Culture 5
LIAS PhD Seminar: Archives, Power and Memory 5
Can the Subaltern Write: China’s Migrant Worker Culture (ResMA) 10
China's International Political Economy (ResMA) 10
Chinese Linguistics: State of the Art (ResMA) 10
Contemporary Japan’s Economy in Global Economics (ResMA) 10
Cultures of Resistance in the Post-colonial World (ResMA) 10
Economic Development and Social Change in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Histories of Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
International Relations of the Middle East and Asia (ResMA) 10
Masters of Chinese Philosophy (ResMA) 10
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia (ResMA) 10
Modern Muslim Qur’an Interpretation (ResMA) 10
Oral Traditions (ResMA) 10
Politics of Culture in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Reading the Bodhicaryāvatāra (ResMA) 5
Topical Readings in Classical Japanese (ResMA) 10
The Visual and Material Culture of Exchange in Asia and Europe, 1500-1800 (ResMA) 10
LIAS PhD Seminar: Global Political Economy 5
LIAS PhD Seminar: Text and Image 5
China and Global Cyberspace (ResMA) 10
Contemporary Indian Politics (ResMA) 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants (ResMA) 10
Democratizing Histories: Asia and the World (ResMA) 10
Hands-on Research Experience in Museum Volkenkunde (ResMA) 10
Political Economy in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Reading Buddhist Scriptures (ResMA) 10
Sinographics: Chinese writing and writing Chinese (ResMA) 10
Topical Readings in Pre-modern Chinese (ResMA) 10
Topics in Chinese Art History (ResMA) 10
`Ulamâ’ in the Modern Muslim World (ResMA) 10
Word and Image in Premodern Japanese Culture (ResMA) 10

Elective Courses from one of the MA programmes (20 EC)

Choose two or more courses from the list that can be found under the tab "elective courses" up to a total of at least 20 EC.

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

Discipline and Place in the Social Sciences and the Humanities 0

Second year

Fieldwork / Study Abroad (ResMA) 30

Alternatively, students take two or more core electives (with a minimum total of 20 EC) and one or more electives (with a minimum total of 10 EC)

Thesis Writing Seminar 5
Research MA Thesis (Middle Eastern Studies, Asian Studies) 25

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.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialisation courses offered by the MA Asian Studies programme:

History, Arts and Culture of Asia

Politics, Society and Economy (Asian Studies)

East Asian Studies

Korean Studies

Chinese Studies

Japanese Studies

Southeast Asian Studies

South Asian Studies

Language courses


Note that this course is only offered in Dutch.

Mandarijn IA 15


Hindi 1 10


Indonesian 1 10


Note that 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.

Taalkundige Structuur (Grammar) Ia 5
Actieve Taalbeheersing Ia: Conversatie & Luistervaardigheid 3
Actieve Taalbeheersing Ia: Kanji 2
Teksten Ia 5


Korean 1 15


Klassiek Mantsjoe & Mantsjoerologie I 5
Klassiek Mantsjoe & Mantsjoerologie II 5


Language Acquisition Persian 1 5
Language Acquisition Persian 2 5


Sanskrit 1 10


Tibetan 1 10

Turkic and Turkish

Beginner's Turkish 1 5
Beginner's Turkish 2 5
Modern Uyghur 5

Advanced Language Courses

Students can take more than 10 EC of language courses at advanced level (MA courses, level 400-500), pending approval of the Board of Examiners.

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

Meer info

Programme Details Objectives Structure Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation Contact Information

Programme Details

Title: Master of Arts Duration: 2 years, full-time Start dates: September and February Language of instruction: English Responsibility: Programme director Master Asian 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 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 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).

Fieldwork / Study Abroad

Students are expected to spend the third semester of the programme abroad doing fieldwork and/or studying at an affiliated institution.

The last semester: Thesis Writing Seminar and MA Thesis

After their return from Fieldwork or Study Abroad, the students write their 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.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In the third semester students start working on their individual research (and if they want to do fieldwork in the third semester, even earlier). This will result in a master’s thesis. The thesis must be based on the student’s own research, including primary data. Whether this material is gathered during fieldwork and/or a study-abroad period depends on the road chosen by the student. 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. This “course” has a weight of 5 EC and is obligatory for all students in the fourth semester. In order to graduate, students need to have successfully completed the 120 EC programme including the thesis (25 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

MA Asian 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 E-mail Openinghours

Coordinator/Student adviser

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

Start of your studies

Frequently asked questions about the start of the study MA Asian Studies (research).

Does the department have an introductory programme?

Yes, we will organise a compulsory Introduction Day for the MA Asian Studies (research) programme in Leiden on Monday, 2 September, 2019.

Programme Introductory Meeting MA Asian Studies (research), Monday, 2 September, 2019.

Time Activity Who Room
9.30 – 10.00 hrs Coffee and Cookies MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and MA Asian Studies (research) students VRIESH4 / Café Noord
10.00 – 11.00 hrs Welcome & general info on the programme MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and MA Asian Studies (research) students VRIESH4 / 008A
11.00 - 12.00 hrs Coffee break and info on Research Schools MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and MA Asian Studies (research) students VRIESH4 / Café Noord
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
Thursday, 5 September 14.00-15.00 hrs Information on courses MA Asian Studies and MA Asian Studies (research) students Lipsius 003

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 Asian 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 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 February. 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 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.

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.