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Classics and Ancient Civilizations (research): Hebrew and Aramaic Studies

Hebrew and Aramaic Studies is a specialization of the Research Master’s program in Classics and Ancient Civilizations. This Research Master program is unique in the Netherlands in the breadth of its subject matter, the historical periods covered and the multidisciplinary approach of its study. Characteristic for the Research Master is its focus on reading ancient texts in their original languages, and discussing the different interpretations the texts allow.

Students may specialize in one of four tracks:

See the information page for more details on the program or visit our website.

First year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First Semester

10 EC compulsory courses:

Common course: Libraries in the Ancient World 10


Select from the following courses (10 EC):

Historical Grammar of Hebrew and Aramaic 10
Cultural History of Aramaic 10
History writing in and on the Achaemenid Empire 10

Research School Elective

Select from courses offered by National Research Schools (10 EC):

Research School Courses (ResMA Classics and Ancient Civilizations) 5/10
Phoenician Language and Texts 10

Second Semester


Select from the following courses:

Advanced Biblical Hebrew Grammar 10
Biblical Text in Mesopotamian Context 10
Rebel, Prophet, Martyr: Jesus of Nazareth in the Context of his Time 10

Second year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First Semester

15 EC compulsory courses

Common course: Libraries in the Ancient World 10
MA Thesis Tutorial Classics and Ancient Civilizations (Research) 5


Select 10-20 EC from following courses:

Cultural History of Aramaic 10
Comparative Semitics 10

Research School Elective

Select from courses offered by National Research Schools (10 EC)

Research School Courses (ResMA Classics and Ancient Civilizations) 5/10
Phoenician Language and Texts 10

Second Semester

30 EC compulsory courses

Thesis Presentation and Research Proposal 5
MA Thesis Classics and Ancient Civilizations (Research) 25

Extra curricular courses

The courses below are offered by the Classics and Ancient Civilizations program (or related programs), and are accessible for all students in the (Research) MA program Classics and Ancient Civilizations. The courses are not part of the Hebrew and Aramaic Studies program, but can be taken as extra curricular courses.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Tutorial Akkadian 10
The Sumerian Language: Structure and Analysis 5
Introduction to Middle Egyptian and the Hieroglyphic Script 10
Selected Topics in Egyptian Archaeology 5
Core Course Medieval and Early Modern Studies 10

Second semester

Intermediate Sumerian 5
Rebel, Prophet, Martyr: Jesus of Nazareth in the Context of his Time 10

Career Preparation

Career preparation

The programme of the Research MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations provides comprehensive training in the languages, literatures and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean region and the Near East. How will you be able to use your knowledge of the ancient world and your academic skills on the job market? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you would like to do after graduation? How can you best prepare yourself for the future? We discuss these questions at several moments during the Research MA program. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, your track leader, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or perhaps you have made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. There are several other opportunities for you to receive more information, to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and to give you the chance to explore the job market. We organize job market events and meetings with alumni, and we can help you to find internships.

Common courses:

Several courses of the study programme help you to prepare for the job market. Within the Research Master, this topic is addressed explicitly in the Common Courses. Students from all four tracks take two compulsory Common Courses in the course of their programme. During the course, students learn to present their research in accessible form to an audience of non-specialists. Furthermore, students develop a number of skills transferable to a career as junior researcher in an academic environment, or to a career outside of academia: research skills, critical assessment of secondary literature, oral presentation and written presentation.

Thesis presentation and research proposal

In their second year, all students take the compulsory Thesis Presentation and Research Proposal Seminar. This seminar concentrates on academic research skills. You will learn to write a conference abstract, compose a professional CV, write a research proposal and present the topic of your thesis. Academic integrity and planning a research career are also topics that will be addressed. During this seminar you are introduced to both academic and non-academic careers, as alumni are invited to talk about their experiences on the job market.


Internships are very useful for students who wish to familiarize themselves with the job market. We have established firm connections with several institutions and companies that have agreed to offer annual internships for students of Classics and Ancient Civilizations: Brill Publishers, Uitgeverij LAMBO, NINO and RMO (the National Museum of Antiquities). Other internships are also possible. The Board of Examiners must approve your internship plan, which can be either part of your study program (10 EC) or extracurricular. For more information, contact the internship coordinator and visit the website Finding and arranging an internship.

Leiden Antiquity Network Meetings

The programme annually organizes Leiden Antiquity Network Meetings: at these events students can meet alumni with different jobs. Apart from presentations by alumni about their careers, the Leiden Antiquity Network Meeting may include ‘speed-dating’ sessions for students and alumni.

Humanities Career Service

The Faculty of Humanities Career Service provides Humanities students with professional advice and guidance concerning (international) internships and jobs, courses in career planning and job application, and job application readers. The internship coordinator and the career advisor assist you in exploring your individual interests and abilities, and guide you towards the most appropriate internships and job.
Please consult the Humanities Career Service webpage for more information.

Humanities Career Event

This career day is organized by the Faculty of Humanities. It is meant for students who are preparing themselves for a future career in The Netherlands. There are various things to do during this event. There are inspiring keynote speakers; organisations and companies give workshops about work experience from employees and the career opportunities for Leiden University alumni; and there are also workshops about for example Linkedin, networking, and applying for jobs.
The date of the next Humanities Career Event will be announced on the university website and by e-mail.

Forum Antiquum and Ancient World Network (Lunch Talks)

For students who wish to pursue an academic career, there are two lecture series where you can meet scholars and learn about new approaches to the ancient world. Forum Antiquum is the lecture series that focuses on research in Classics. Lectures are organized every other week during the semester on Thursdays. Every semester, a number of national and international speakers are invited, both well-known experts and promising young researchers.
The Ancient World Lunch Talks provide an opportunity to exchange ideas and latest research in an informal atmosphere with an audience of MA and PhD students, Postdocs and Faculty and all interested students. There is free pizza and everyone is welcome to bring lunch!
If you are not in the mailing list and you would like to receive e-mails about the lunch talks, please contact the study adviser.

Transferrable Skills

Your future employers will not only be interested in your knowledge of Classics and Ancient Civilisations, but also in the skills that you have developed during your studies. Therefore, it is important that you are aware of the skills that you are training in your Research MA programme. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus tell you which skills you will acquire.
In the research MA programme you learn how to analyze a problem, how to formulate a research question, how to select and assess your sources, how to assess secondary literature, how to give a clear and well-argued oral presentation either for specialists or for a wider audience, and how to write a clear and well-argued paper. You will be training the following transferrable skills:

  • critical thinking (formulating questions, checking assumptions, assessing sources and scholarship)

  • analytical skills (selecting, ordering, sorting out, and solving a problem)

  • oral presentation skills (speaking, listening, discussing, receiving feedback)

  • writing skills (reporting, summarizing, presenting an argument, with structure and style)

  • independence (self-discipline, initiative, motivation)

  • project management (planning, demarcation of a topic, discipline, meeting deadlines)

  • flexibility (adapting to changes)

  • creativity (curiosity, developing new ideas and innovative topics)

  • academic integrity (acting with honesty, fairness, and responsibility)

  • collaboration (working together with other students on a joint project)

Meetings with the Study Adviser

Students who have questions about their orientation on career prospects can contact the study adviser of the research MA programme Classics and Ancient Civilizations.