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Note: ‘ Semester 1’ stands for Fall semester and ‘ Semester 2’ for Spring semester.

Note that this prospectus is still in the process of being updated.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First year

Common Core Course:

Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research 10
Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities 10

Students are strongly advised to opt to take the Methodologies course mentioned above. By taking this course, they fulfill the requirement that they should take in total at least 10 EC of courses from one of the research schools over the two years.
Alternatively, students may take 10 EC worth of national research school courses over the full duration of their enrolment (note that the number of credits per course offered by the research schools varies).

Core Elective Courses

  • Students need to take at least 20 EC of Core Elective Courses (600-level, course code starting with 5474I).

  • Alternatively, students may take (600-level) courses from other Research MA programmes or national research school courses over the full duration of their enrolment (note that the number of credits per course varies).

LIAS PhD Seminar: Decolonisation in Academia 5
LIAS PhD Seminar: Identity and Resistance in a Global Context 5
China's New Workers and the Politics of Culture (ResMA) 10
China's International Political Economy (ResMA) 10
Comparative Asian Linguistics (ResMA) 10
Cultural Heritage in East-Asia: Dealing with the Past in the Present and Future (ResMA) 10
Creativity and Culture in Contemporary China (ResMA) 10
Democratizing Histories (ResMA) 10
Economic Development and Social Change in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Histories of Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Lives on the Margins: Korean Peninsula Migration and Identity (ResMA) 10
Oral Traditions (ResMA) 10
Pilgrimage and Holy Places (ResMA) 10
Sound as Heritage in Asia (ResMA) 10
State, Economy and Politics in Contemporary China and India (ResMA) 10
The Premodern in the Modern: Historicizing Gender and Sexuality (ResMA) 10
Topical Readings in Classical Japanese (ResMA) 10
Topical Readings in Historical and Literary Chinese Texts (ResMA) 10
LIAS PhD Seminar: The Uses of Translation 5
LIAS PhD Seminar: Gender and Archive 5
Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese (ResMA) 5
Art and Power in China (ResMA) 10
China and Global Cyberspace (ResMA) 10
China-Africa Relations in a Changing Global Order (ResMA) 10
Contemporary Indian Politics (ResMA) 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants (ResMA) 10
Cultures of Resistance: South Asia and the World (ResMA) 10
Ecofeminism in Island Asia and Oceania (ResMA) 10
Material Culture, Heritage and Memory along the Silk Roads in Central Asia (ResMA) 10
Modern Japanese International Political Thought (ResMA) 10
The Past in the Present: Nation-building in Modern China (ResMA) 10
Political Economy of Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Politics of Culture in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
The Politics of Destruction: Targeting World Heritage (ResMA) 10
Sinographics: Chinese writing and writing Chinese (ResMA) 10
Word and Image in Premodern Japanese Culture (ResMA) 10

Elective Courses

  • Choose two or more courses from the courses on offer in the regular MA programmes (levels 400-500) with a minimum of 20 EC in total

  • Alternatively, students may take maximally 10 EC worth of language or other skills courses such as methods or digital humanities courses at BA-level (100–400), unless similar courses were part of the previously completed programme which gave access to this programme.

  • Students may also replace Elective Courses by Core Elective Courses or courses from a national research school (take a 600-level course instead of a 400 or 500-level course).

  • See under tab "Elective courses" for a limited list and more information.

Second year, Semester 1

Research semester

During the first semester of their second year students need to do research worth minimally 20 EC and maximally 30 EC. As the semester must have a total load of 30 EC, the remainder may be filled by taking another course at at least 400 level in the case research is less than 30 EC.

Research Project (Fieldwork) (ResMA) 20-30

Second year, Semester 2

In this semester students write their research MA Thesis.

Research MA Thesis (Middle Eastern Studies, Asian Studies) 30

Additionally, students can apply to participate in a series of extra-curricular lectures in the Fall semester of the first or second year,

Beyond Discipline and Place in the Social Sciences and the Humanities 0

or they can, in the second semester of their second year, participate in some sessions which gives them some leads in preparation for their possible post-graduate careers.

Advanced Seminar: Post-graduate Orientation 0

Elective courses

Elective Courses

  • Choose two or more courses with a minimum of 20 EC in total from the courses on offer in the regular MA Asian Studies as listed below, or

  • courses from other MA programmes (levels 400-500) (approval needed from the Board of Examiners), or

  • Students may also replace Elective Courses by Core Elective Courses or courses from the National Research Schools (take a 600-level course instead of a 500-level course).

The courses listed are, in principle, open to all students admitted to the MA Asian Studies (research). However, some of them may have additional entry requirements such as, for example, a particular level of language sufficiency. Please refer to the course descriptions for further details.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialisation courses offered by the MA Asian Studies programmes and specialisations:

Asian Studies (120 EC): Chinese Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in Chinese Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (120 EC): Japanese Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in Japanese Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (120 EC): Korean Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in Korean Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): History, Arts and Culture of Asia

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in History, Arts and Culture of Asia through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): Politics, Society and Economy

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in Politics, Society and Economy through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): East Asian Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in East Asian Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): Southeast Asian Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in Southeast Asian Studies through the following link.

Asian Studies (60 EC): South Asian Studies

You can find information on course availability for the 2024-2025 academic year in South Asian Studies through the following link.

Advanced Language Courses

Students can also opt to take language courses at advanced level (MA courses, level 400-500), as part of their electives.

Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese 5
Advanced Mandarin 1 10
Advanced Mandarin 2 5
Advanced Japanese 1 (60EC) 10
Advanced Japanese 2 (60EC) 5
Advanced Readings in Sanskrit Literature 10
Hindi Literature 10

Another MA-level course open to ResMA students of the Faculty of Humanities as elective:

Leiden Elective Academic Periodical 10

BA-level language or other skills courses

Alternatively, students may take maximally 10 EC worth of language or other skills courses such as methods or digital humanities courses at BA-level (100–400), unless similar courses were part of the previously completed programme which gave access to this programme. See below for a limited list of available courses.

If they opt to take more than 10 EC of these BA-level courses, they will not count towards their degree, but listed on the Diploma Supplement as extra-curricular pending approval by the Board of Examiners.

Note that the number of available places for these (BA-)courses may be limited and that some of them are taught in Dutch


Note that this course is only offered in Dutch.

Mandarijn 1a 15


Hindi 1 10


Indonesian 1 10


Note that some of these courses are only offered in Dutch and that if you choose to follow an elective in Japanese language you are obliged to follow all four courses.

Applied Linguistics Ia: Conversation & Listening Skills 3
Applied Linguistics Ia:Kanji 2
Structure: Japanese Grammar 1a 5
Texts 1a 5


Korean 1 15


Persian Language and Culture 1 10


Sanskrit 1 10


Tibetan 1 10

Digital Humanities Courses:

Courses from the Minor Digital Humanities:
Only open as elective, if there are places left. Students from the Minor have priority.

Information Visualization and the Humanities 5
Exploring the Past in the Digital Present 5
Special Topics in Digital Humanities 5

Digital Humanities electives:

In these courses a limited number of places have been reserved for students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or the MA Asian Studies (research).

Digital Media, Culture and Society 5
Introduction to Experimental Methods for the Humanities 5
Statistics for the Humanities (Statistics I) 5
Digital Text and Data Analysis 5

More info

Programme Details

  • Title: Master of Arts

  • Duration: 2 years, full-time

  • Start date: September

  • Language of instruction: English

  • Responsibility: Programme director Master Asian Studies (research), Dr. C. Strava.1).


This research master provides core training in an Area Studies approach to knowledge, opportunities for the development of disciplinary skills (politics, history, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.), and possibilities to build upon regional and language specialisation (such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Sanskrit, and Tibetan). Master students in Asian Studies develop sophisticated theoretical and methodological tools for scholarly reflexivity as well as tools specific for their research projects – which may be framed in more conventionally disciplinary and regional terms. They are guided to understand the parameters of the various disciplines and the ways in which they may be creatively combined into sophisticated forms of inter-disciplinarity, suitable to their subject matter. Students develop in-depth knowledge of one of the regions of Asia (East Asia, South or Southeast Asia, including Tibet), and/or a transregional/comparative perspective that tracks particular themes through their relationship with ‘areas.’



In the course of October, the students of the MA Asian Studies (research) are coupled with their research and thesis supervisor, one of the professors involved in the programme who (preferably) works on a topic of interest to the individual student. Together with the research and thesis supervisor, the student composes a programme which caters to her or his interest.

Common Core Courses

The programme consists of four semesters with a course load of 30 EC each. The courses have a weight of 10 EC each (a limited number of courses have a weight of 5 EC) and students generally follow three courses per semester. During the first year students have to take two Common Core Courses: ‘Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research’ (Fall Semester) and ‘Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities ’ (Spring Semester). The first one of these courses is obligatory for all students of both the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and the MA Asian Studies (research) and attended by them jointly. The other one may be replaced by courses from one (or more) of the [national Dutch research schools in the Humanities.

Core Electives and Electives

Besides these Common Core Courses students take elective courses. The programme offers two kinds of electives: “core electives” and “electives”. Students need to choose at least two “core elective” courses (20 EC in total) during their first year. These core electives are courses which are also attended by regular MA students, but they aim at the same time at offering an extra intellectual challenge to the students of the research MA: during the course more challenging literature is read and extra tutorials are offered by the converners of the courses to discuss the literature read. Moreover, the assignments are assessed at a higher level to cater to the higher intellectual need of research MA students. Alternatively, students may opt to join LIAS PhD candidates in the LIAS PhD Seminars.
The remaining regular “electives” (20 EC in total) are courses attended jointly with the students of the regular MAs and lack the extra challenges offered by the “core electives”.
It is also possible to take courses from other programmes, but when students choose to do so, they need to obtain approval from the Board of Examiners first. Students should be aware, though, that for some of the courses a certain level of knowledge of a particular language is required (see course descriptions).
N.B. In the right column under files you will find a useful document explaining more about which courses can be replaced by which other courses.

Research Project

Students are expected to spend the third semester of the programme on their research research project. They may combine this research project with taking a course of maximum 10 EC either in Leiden or at an affiliated institution.

The last semester: Thesis Writing Seminar and MA Thesis

After the students have finished their research project, they write their Research MA Thesis. The process of writing is supported by a “Thesis Seminar” which is offered bi-weekly. Students present their research during this seminar and discuss relevant issues with their peers.


Year I
Semester 1 Common Core Course: Critical Area Studies (10 ec) Core Elective Course (10 ec) Elective Course (10 ec)
Semester 2 Common Core Course: Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities or Research School courses (10 ec) Core Elective Course (10 ec) Elective Course (10 ec)
Year II
Semester 3 (Core) Elective Course (≤ 10 ec) Research Project (≥ 20 ec)
Semester 4 Thesis and Thesis Writing Seminar (30 ec)

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In the first year the students start working on their individual research project proposal, while the research project itself will take place in the first semester of the second year. This will result in a master’s thesis. The thesis must be based on the student’s own research, including primary data. The fourth semester is entirely reserved for the writing of the thesis. During this semester, the students gather on a regular base under the guidance of Prof. Jonathan Silk in the Thesis Writing Seminar to discuss their progress.

In order to graduate, students need to have successfully completed the 120 EC programme including the thesis (30 EC) as part of that programme. The thesis should be related to the expertise of at least one of the members of staff involved in the programme.

Contact Information

Mailing address

Mailing address

MA Asian Studies (research) programme
P.O.Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands

Visiting address (also address for courier services)

Witte Singel 27a, 2311BG Leiden

Education Administration Office

Herta Mohr Building
Witte Singel 27A
2311BG Leiden
Phone +31 (0)71 527 2253
E-mail [Contqact

Coordinator/Student adviser

Nicole A.N.M. van Os, PhD
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2937
Office hours: upon appointment through e-mail.

Start of your studies

Does the department have an introductory programme?

The introductory meeting of this programme will take place on Tuesday, September 4th, and start at 10 am (no endtime determined yet) in room Matthias de Vrieshof 4/005. Further details will follow later.

Directions and map

Directions on how to get from Leiden Central Station to the Faculty of Humanities.

Most rooms are situated at the Witte Singel Doelen-Complex, the location of the Faculties of Humanities.

How do I get hold of my prospectus and lecture timetable?

You can find the courses for the academic year 2021-2022 and the detailed course descriptions in the Prospectus. Find your programme under Asian Studies (research) to view all courses on offer.

The timetables are available through MyTimetable. Here you can also find what courses start when. Some of them will start in the week of September 4th, others a week later in the week of September 11th.

Please note that changes in the timetable may still occur during the summer.
For information on the exam periods, (official) holidays, etc see the Academic Calendar 2023-2024.

Is there anything more I need to do to complete my enrolment?

Make sure to complete your enrolment no later than 31 August. For this you need to:

  • pay the tuition fees;

  • accept the offer in the online application portal;

  • hand in all required documents at the Admissions Office as per the instructions in your admission statement.

Registration for courses

Once your enrolment with Leiden University is complete and you have received your Student Identity Number, log in name and password, you will be able to enroll online for all courses (and later for exams) through MYStudyMap. You may also want to have a look at this FAQ.To make sure your register for the right (version of the) course, make sure to read the item "Course registration" in the course descriptions.

Where can I buy my study books and study material?

To find out what books you will need for next year, you can visit the Prospectus. Here you will find the course descriptions of the courses you will be taking, with the required literature. Most professors use Brightspace for a detailed list of literature. As soon as you are registered for a course, you will have access to the relevant Brightspace module.

Where do I go for any further information I may need?

General information on the programme is available at the Asian Studies (research) (MA) website. You will have to log in the first time you visit this page. Once you have done this your cookies will enable you to enter this page further without problems.

For questions related to more general issues of registration, housing and other practicalities around your coming to Leiden and Leiden University, please, refer to the university's FAQ base.

For any other questions you may contact the student advisor, Ms. Nicole van Os.

Career Preparation

Career preparation in master Asian Studies (Research)

In addition to offering you a solid university education, Leiden University aims to prepare you as well as possible for the labour market, and in doing so contribute to the development of your employability. In this way, it will become easier for you to make the transition to the labour market, to remain employable in a dynamic labour market, in a (career) job that suits your own personal values, preferences and development.

'Employability' consists of the following aspects that you will develop within your study programme, among others:

  1. Discipline-specific knowledge and skills
    Knowledge and skills specific to your study programme.

  2. Transferable skills
    These are skills that are relevant to every student and that you can use in all kinds of jobs irrespective of your study programme, for example: researching, analysing, project-based working, generating solutions, digital skills, collaborating, oral communication, written communication, presenting, societal awareness, independent learning, resilience.

But also think of job application skills: preparing a CV, formulating a cover letter, compiling a LinkedIn profile, networking, practising job interviews, preparing and holding a pitch.

  1. Self-reflection
    This involves reflecting on your own (study) career (choices), reflecting on your own profile and your personal and professional development. Gaining insight into, among other things, your competences and personality, your (work) values and motives. what can you do with your knowledge and skills on the labour market?
    Who are you, what can you do well, what do you find interesting, what suits you, what do you find important, what do you want to do?

  2. Practical experience
    Gaining practical experience through practical and social internships and work placements, external research internships and projects, practical assignments, which are integrated into an elective, minor or graduation assignment, business challenges etc.

  3. Labour market orientation
    Gaining insight into the labour market, fields of work, jobs and career paths through, for example, guest speakers from the work field, alumni presentations and experiences, career events within the study programme, the use of the alumni mentor network, interviewing people from the work field, and shadowing/visiting companies in the context of a particular subject.

Activities to prepare for the labour market outside the curriculum

Every year, various activities take place, within, alongside and outside of your study programme, which contribute to your preparation for the labour market, especially where it concerns orientation towards the work field/the labour market, (career) skills and self-reflection. These may be information meetings on decision moments within your programme, but also career workshops and events organised by your own programme, the faculty Career Service or your study association.
For example:

  • (Workshops and (faculty) career events)[] organised by the (faculty) Career Services

  • Information about choices, (optional) subjects, honours education, study abroad, internships

  • Information about the choice of a master's degree

  • Humanities Career Event (in April)

  • Extra curricular course "What's Next? First Steps in Crafting Your Career (MA)"

  • Advanced Seminar

  • Study abroad festival

Career Service, LU Career Zone and career workshops calendar

Faculty Career Service

The (Career Service of your faculty)[] offers information and advice on study (re)orientation and master's choice, (study) career planning, orientation on the labour market and job applications.

Leiden University Career Zone

(Leiden University Career Zone)[] is the website for students and alumni of Leiden University to support their (study) career. You can find advice, information, (career) tests and tools in the area of (study) career planning, career possibilities with your study, job market orientation, job applications, the Alumni Mentor network, job portal, workshops and events and career services.

Workshops and events

On the course calendar you will find an overview of career and application workshops, organised by the Career services.