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Classical Persian Texts


Admission requirements

Admission requirements and any restrictions.


This course will provide the students with an overview of Persian literature and its developments throughout history starting with the early Persian works after the Islamic conquest. Examining a number of Persian texts (both prose and poetry) from the 9th century onwards will also offer a broad understanding of Persian themes, genres, styles, templates, and their role in poetry and historiography. The course primarily aims to introduce key poets and authors whose works have made significant impacts on developing Persian literature, such as Firdwasī whose Shāhnamā has been recognized as the peak of Persian epic literature by modern scholars. Since Leiden University Library has an extensive collection of Persian manuscripts, some texts (in the shape of manuscripts) will also be investigated in order to assist the students in reading them as well as familiarizing them with the Persian manuscript tradition.

Course objectives

By taking this course the students will:

  • comprehend and analyse classical Persian texts, their structure and their meaning as well as their position in the course of the development of Persian literature.

  • Identify and categorize various genres and styles.

  • Be able to apply classical Persian texts directly as primary sources in their future research.

  • Grasp a general understating of manuscript scripts, structure, and tradition.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.  

Assessment method

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations). It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimise overlap between prior and new work.
Students must submit their papers and assignments through Brightspace, so that they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

  • Written examination with open questions

  • Paper

Assessment and weighing

Total course load: 5 EC x 28 hours 140 hours
Attendance and participation 10%
Homework and assignments 20%
Exams (Mid-term and final) 30%
Paper 40%


A resit exam will be available for 50%, replacing the grades for homework, mid-term exam and final exam.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

General Readings:

  • Steingass, F.J. A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary. London: 1892.

  • Bruijn, J.T.P., de. General Introduction to Persian Literature. London: Tauris, 2008.

  • Melville, Charles. Persian Historiography. London: Tauris, 2012.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office Vrieshof