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MA Thesis Middle Eastern Studies


Admission requirements

Admission to (one of) the programme(s) listed under Part of in the right information bar.
If you are interested in taking this course, but NOT a student of (one of) the listed programme(s), please contact the Coordinator of Studies.

Completion of Theories and Methods of Middle Eastern Studies (students who started before 2022-2023: Theories and Methods of Middle East en Islamic Studies).


The thesis is based on original research and makes substantial use of primary materials and professional literature. The thesis is written in English, and is up to 20,000 words in length, including footnotes and bibliography and reflecting the scholarly virtues of originality, focus and conciseness.

Course objectives

The thesis must show the student’s ability to conduct original research under supervision, and to make a contribution to scholarship in a way that inspires confidence in his/her ability to prepare written reports of good quality. Its author must show that s/he is conversant with the discourse as it emerges from influential publications in the field. References should be formatted consistently in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style or the American Anthropological Association Style Guide.



Mode of instruction

Thesis supervision
The thesis is supervised by a lecturer of the Programme Middle Eastern Studies. The Department assigns students to a lecturer from the Programme for thesis supervision. To find the best possible match, students must fill out an online form, available via Brightspace, before October 1 (for Thesis supervision in Spring) or March 1 (for Thesis supervision in Fall).
The decision regarding the topic of the thesis depends on availability of staff. Students may be asked to change or adapt the topic of their thesis, if the Programme is unable to find appropriate supervision for the topic of their choice.

Assessment method


Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity.
Plagiarism will not be tolerated. It is assumed that students' work is their own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations). Students may not substantially reuse any work 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.
Assignment(s) must be submitted to Brightspace through Turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Formal regulations around the MA Thesis
The formal regulations around the MA Thesis can be found in Appendix A to the Teaching and Examination Regulations.

Thesis supervision
TheBoard of Examiners, in consultation with the Programme Board, assigns students to a lecturer from the Programme for thesis supervision. To find the best possible match, students must fill out an online form. The deadline for filling out this form is 1 October. Between October-February students will work on their thesis proposal and will write their thesis mainly during the period February – June, in order to graduate in August. It is possible for students to extend their studies and write their thesis in the period September-January, in order to graduate in January. In that case the deadline for filling out the online form for supervision is 1 March. For exact dates and further details please see below.

Rough time path
The Programme Middle Eastern Studies works with roadmaps to guide you through the thesis writing process. These can be found here, and will also be made available via Brightspace and discussed during the introductory meeting.
Students planning to graduate within one year, are advised to follow the Roadmap MA thesis (trajectory September-July) (i; students who wish to extend their studies with one semester are advised to follow the Roadmap MA –thesis (trajectory February-January). Please note the strict deadlines designed by the Programme.
Thesis submission is limited to two deadlines per academic year. Students of the September 2022 intake need to submit the thesis before 15 June 2023 in order to graduate in August 2023. If this deadline is not met, the next opportunity for submitting the thesis will be 5 January 2024. In the latter case the date of graduation will be January 2024.

Supervisors are only appointed for a specified period, and for a specific number of consultations. Missing the deadlines (not finishing the thesis within the set period) will result in serious consequences, which likely include the appointment of a new supervisor, and beginning a new research project.
It is important to realize that students need to hand in and discuss the separate chapters of their thesis over the semester. They are not allowed to hand in a complete thesis at once at the end of the semester. To facilitate this process and manage expectations, students and their supervisors are expected to fill out the appointment form designed by the Programme.
Supervisors may not always be available during the periods when no classes are taught. No supervision or grading will be done between 15 July and 15 August.




A full and complete final thesis was submitted on the set deadline in June.
A student granted this opportunity uses the comments given by both readers to rewrite, but does not get any further supervision during the rewriting. The deadline for resubmission is on 31 August 2023. The rewritten thesis will be graded by the supervisor and a second reader. The student will receive the grade 3 weeks after the deadline.
In this case, the student will have to re-enroll and register in the new academic year for a month.

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


Students will be registered by the Education Administration Office.


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