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The Ottoman Empire and Turkey (1908 - 1945)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies. Please, contact the student advisor or the instructor Prof. Dr. E.J. Zurcher prior to registration for permission if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of the above-mentioned MA programme. Non MA Middle Eastern Studies' students will hear at the latest on September 8 whether or not they will be able to take the course and should think of an alternative in time.


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, secularization 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 thematic blocks. First three blocks also 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 the new (2017) edition of E.J. Zürcher, Turkey. A Modern History(or its Dutch translation) 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 The classes consist of a lecture of 45-60 minutes, followed by a 60minute discussion of the readings of the week on the basis of the comments on those readings posted by the students in Blackboard. The discussion sessions are moderated by different students each week.
    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.

Course Load

10 EC = 280 hs:

  • 26 hours in class

  • 120 hours reading/preparation,

  • 134 hours research/term paper.

Assessment method


Reading and active participation in class, webpostings and term paper


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 19 January 2018, 17:00. (The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is a fictional date for administration purposes only.)

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 will have to sit a written examination on the subjects discussed during the course. The result will contribute 50% to the final mark.

Exam review

Final paper comments will be given only if a student requests them within 30 days of their final paper results.



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.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

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).