Middle Eastern Studies (Research)
Note: ‘ Semester 1’ stands for Fall semester and ‘ Semester 2’ for Spring semester.
|Vak||EC||Semester 1||Semester 2|
Common Core Courses:
|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.
|Research Project Preparation||1|
Core Elective Courses
|Culture and Society in the Medieval Muslim World (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|
|Oil, Waste and Water: Environmental Issues in the Middle East and North Africa (ResMA)||10|
|War, Peace and Mass Media: The Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Public Sphere (ResMA)||10|
|`Ulamâ' in the Modern Muslim World (ResMA)||10|
|Against Caste and Race: Identity and Resistance in a Global Context||5|
|Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants (ResMA)||10|
|From Inkwell to Internet: Text and Transmission in the Muslim World (ResMA)||10|
|LIAS PhD Seminar: Themes in Global Political Economy||5|
|Themes in Arabic Literature: Bandits and Outlaws, Fact and Fiction (ResMA)||10|
Second year, Semester 1
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:
|Beyond Discipline and Place in the Social Sciences and the Humanities||0|
|Vak||EC||Semester 1||Semester 2|
Elective Courses: Choose two or more courses with a minimum of 20 EC in total from the courses on offer in the regular MA Middle Eastern Studies as listed below, or
|Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia||10|
|The Making of the Modern Middle East (1870-1940)||10|
|The Middle East in the International Political Economy||10|
|Narratives That Matter: Literature, Film and Television Drama in the Middle East||10|
|Oil, Waste and Water: the Political Ecology of the Middle East and North Africa||10|
|Pilgrimage and Holy Places||10|
|`Ulamâ' in the Modern Muslim World||10|
|War, Peace, and Mass Media: The Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Public Sphere||10|
|Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants||10|
|From Inkwell to Internet: Text and Transmission in the Muslim World||10|
|Power and Resistance in the Modern Middle East (ResMA)||10|
|Political History of the Middle East in the 20th Century||10|
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:
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.
|Modern Standard Arabic 1||5|
|Modern Standard Arabic 2||5|
|Persian Language and Culture 1||10|
|Ottoman Turkish (Fall)||5 or 10|
|Persian Language and Culture 2||10|
|Ottoman Turkish (Spring)||5 or 10|
Digital Humanities Courses:
Courses from the Minor Digital Humanities:
|Information Visualization and the Humanities||5|
|Exploring the Past in the Digital Present||5|
|Special Topics in Digital Humanities||5|
Digital Humanities electives:
|Statistics for the Humanities (Statistics I)||5|
|Introduction to Experimental Methods for the Humanities||5|
|Digital Media, Culture and Society||5|
|Digital Text and Data Analysis||5|
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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)|
|Semester 3||(Core) Elective Course (≤ 10 ec)||Research Project (≥ 20 ec)|
|Semester 4||Thesis and Thesis Writing Seminar (30 ec)|
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 (research) programme
Secretariat Vrieshof 4, rm 112a
2300 RA Leiden
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 osz-oa-Vrieshof@hum.leidenuniv.nl Opening hours
Nicole A.N.M. van Os, PhD
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2937
Office hours: upon appointment through e-mail.
Is there anything more I need to do to complete my enrolment?
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 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.
You can find the courses for the academic year 2021-2022 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.