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The Ottoman Empire and Turkey (1908 - 1945)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies, specialisation Turkish Studies or Modern Middle East Studies or the MA International Relations, specialisation International Studies. Proficient reading skills in modern Turkish (level B2 European Common Framework, i.e. having had approximately 80 EC = 2240 hs of language training courses). Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programs and/or are not sure whether they meet the language requirement are requested to contact the convener, Prof. Dr. Erik-Jan Zürcher.


Modern Turkey came into existence in the period 1908-1945, in which traumatic and revolutionary developments followed each other in quick succession: the constitutional revolution, eleven years of war, mass migration and mass murder, the end of a 600-year old empire and almost the partition of the remains among the victors in World War I. At the same time it is the period of political experiments, the building of a national economy and the birth of Turkish nationalism. The republic is both heir to all of these developments and a daring experiment in nation building and modernization.

Course objectives

The course aims to use the historical context of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of a new nation state, the Republic of Turkey, to discuss and analyze four major issues that played a dominant role in the history of this period: the emergence of the modern state, the impact of war, nationalism and nation building, and the role of religion and secularism.

Course schedule and reading materials

The course is divided into four blocks. First three blocks follow a chronological sequence but the last block is designed as a discussion of ideological currents that have been influential in the chronological narrative of the first three blocks. Please be informed that all the reading material listed in Blackboard under the categories of “Secondary Texts” and “Primary Sources” are mandatory to read. In addition to that, students are required to independently read chapters 1-12 of E.J. Zürcher, Turkey. A Modern History by way of preparation for the course. Students are expected to read all mandatory materials before they come to the classes. It is not required to read the “Optional Text(s)”, they are included to encourage further discussion.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (werkcollege)
    The classes consist of a lecture of 45 minutes, followed by a 75-minute discussion of the readings of the week on the basis of the comments posted by the students in Blackboard.
    Attendance and participation are obligatory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two classes, provided they have a valid reason (to the discretion of the instructor). Students, who miss more than two classes, are required to resit the entire course.

Course Load

10 EC = 280 hs:

  • 26 hours in class

  • 120 hours reading/preparation,

  • 134 hours research/term paper.

Assessment method

The final grade of this course will be composed of the following elements:

  • Reading and active participation in class as demonstrated by the submission of comments on the readings posted on Blackboard prior to the class, and discussion of these posts in class (50 %)

  • 5000-word essay (term paper) (50%)

All students are required to submit an abstract of their term paper during the semester. The deadline for the final version of the paper is 20 January 2017, 17:00. (The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is a fictional date for administration purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convenor of the course.)

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

Students who get a mark lower than 5.50 (=6) owing to insufficient participation, including the presentation, will have to sit a written examination on the subjects discussed during the course. The result will contribute 50% to the final mark.

Papers that are submitted late cannot earn more than a 6. Students who do not deliver a term paper will automatically fail the course.



Reading list

A full set of selected readings can be found in the course description on


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

(Studeren à la carte is not possible for this course.)

Contact information

Prof. Dr. Erik-Jan Zürcher.


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 accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

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).