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The Ottoman Empire and Turkey


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies. Please, contact the student advisor, Dr. Nicole van Os or the instructor Dr. Alp Yenen prior to registration for permission, if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of the above-mentioned MA programme.


The first nation state of the Middle East, 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, the Kemalist policies of state and nation building. By embracing a new brand of scholarship that looks at agents of violence, subversive movements, and cultures of resistance, this course will attempt to reread the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey in various historical and political contexts by underlining the key roles played by rebels, revolutionaries, and racketeers. Such intermediary and transgressive actors were crucial in the brutal processes of state-formation and nation-building with a long-lasting legacy on the political cultures in Turkey. Inspired by the scholarship on contentious politics in the social sciences that connects the study of social movements and revolutions with civil wars and military coups, this course will study the history of contentious politics from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey.

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 major dynamics of contentious politics in the history of this period: the rise of resistance and opposition movements in the Ottoman Empire, the impact of revolution, war, and genocide in a trans-imperial setting, politics of nation and state building, and the role of ideologies. Students will acquire working knowledge with theoretical and conceptual approaches in the study of contentious politics.



Mode of instruction


Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to attend all classes, read the assigned material, participate in the discussion sessions and complete the assigned workload of the course. Students are expected to critically engage with the course material. The conveners 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

The total course load is 10 EC = 280 hs:

  • participation in courses: 13 x 2 hs = 26 hs

  • Readings and preparation for classes: 100 hs

  • Prepare 2-page essay and presentation: 10 hs

  • Term paper: 144 hs

Assessment method

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). 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 assignment(s) to the blackboard through turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Assessment and weighing

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

Partial assessment Weighing
Participation (active participation in the in-class discussions) 15%
Presentation of one of the readings (10 minutes oral presentation in class and a 2-page review of the same article or chapter, to be submitted 5 days before class) 25%
5,000-word essay (term paper) 60%

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.
In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Participation, 2-page Essay and Presentation
Each week a set of questions on the readings of the week will be posted onto the discussion board. Students are required to answer these questions through posts at least 24 hours before the class (so: by Wednesday morning). These statements will form the basis for the discussions each week. Each week, a student will present one of the readings in 10-munite oral presentation. In addition to the presentation, the presenting student will submit a two-page long critical review of the reading five days prior to the class session. This review will be distributed online on the day of the session.

Term Paper
Students are free to formulate a research topic that is related to the themes and time frame encompassed in this course on the Ottoman and Turkish history from the late-nineteenth century to the early-twentieth century. The research paper must use one of the proper academic citation systems (APA or Chicago preferred) and it must be authentic. The paper must conform to the designated limit of 5000 words. Plagiarism will be checked and automatically means failing the class.

The term paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.

Late submissions of the final version will result in a deduction of paper grades as follows: 1-24 hrs late = -0.5; 24-48 hrs late = -1.0; 48-72 hrs late = -1.5; 72-96 hrs late = -2.0. Late papers will not be accepted more than four days after the deadline, including weekends and will be graded with 1.0.

The deadline of the first complete version is Friday, 30 November, 17.00 hs. Feedback will be given by 14 December at the latest. The final version of the term paper is due on Monday, 7 January, 9.00 hs.


Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower) and the insufficient grade is the result of an insufficient paper, a resit of the paper is possible (60%). In that case the convener of the course may assign a (new) topic and give a new deadline.

A resit of the other partial assessments is not possible.


Blackboard will be used for internal communication and the distribution of additional reading and/or source material.

Reading list

In addition to the mandatory weekly readings, students are recommended to have read chapters 1-12 of Erik Jan Zürcher, Turkey: A Modern History, fourth and revised edition (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017) by way of preparation for the course. The list of weekly articles will be made available after the first session.


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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact information

Dr. Alp Yenen.


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 accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.