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Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Common Core Courses and MA Thesis (30 EC)

Theories and Methods of Middle Eastern Studies 10

MA Thesis

MA Thesis Middle Eastern Studies 20

Elective courses (choose up to 30 EC of courses): 20 EC in your first semester, 10 EC in your second semester.

Culture and Society in the Medieval Muslim World 10
From Algeria to Palestine - The MENA Region in the Settler Colonial World 10
In the Time of Cities: Space, Place, and Politics in the Urban Middle East 10
Narratives That Matter: Literature, Film and Television Drama in the Middle East 10
Oil, Waste and Water: the Political Ecology of the Middle East and North Africa 10
Radio Palestine/Israel: Voices in Conflict 10
Social and Cultural History of the Middle East: the Ottoman Empire (1300-1922) 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants 10
From Inkwell to Internet: Text and Transmission in the Muslim World 10
Material Culture, Heritage and Memory along the Silk Roads in Central Asia 10
Political History of the Middle East in the 20th Century 10
Power and Resistance in the Modern Middle East 10
The Double Conflict: Gender and National Identity in Israel/Palestine 10
The Middle East in the International Political Economy 10
Themes in Arabic Literature: Bandits and Outlaws 10

Elective courses: Languages, maximum of 10 EC (can only be chosen if equivalent courses were not part of the degree which allowed admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies).

Beginner's Hebrew 10
Beginner's Turkish 10
Modern Standard Arabic 1 5
Modern Standard Arabic 2 5
Persian Language and Culture 1 10
Ottoman Turkish (Fall) 10
Ottoman Turkish (Spring) 10

Crosslisted courses: choose maximum 1

Pilgrimage and Holy Places 10
The Politics of Destruction: Targeting World Heritage 10
Leiden Elective Academic Periodical 10


An internship does not count towards the degree.

Internship Middle Eastern Studies

Additional programme information


The multidisciplinary approach to a geographical area, the Middle East and North Africa, throughout history is characteristic of this programme. Using the rich collections of the University Library and other institutions the programme incorporates both the long textual tradition of Leiden University and the most up-to-date theories and approaches of history, literature, linguistics and the social sciences.

For a more detailed overview of the programme's objectives see the Course and Exam Regulations of the Programme.

The objectives regarding general academic skills can be found in the Course and Exam Regulations of the Faculty.



The master’s programme in Middle Eastern Studies consists of two semesters of 30 EC each. In the first semester students follow three courses of 10 EC each. In the second semester students take one more 10 EC course and write their MA Thesis (20 EC).

In the first semester all students take the course ‘Theories and Methods of Middle Eastern Studies’ (10 EC). In this course the emphasis lies on the relevance (or lack thereof) of contemporary theories, concepts and models from the social sciences for the study of the Middle East. Students are familiarised with a variety of methods to obtain and interpret information from different types of sources. In addition to this common course, students take two elective courses which cater to their interest.

In the second semester students all students take one more elective course of 10 EC specific to their interest. All students also work on their MA Thesis (20 ects) during the second semester.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must successfully complete the 60 EC programme including their MA Thesis as a component of that programme. The thesis carries 20 EC, and as a rule should not exceed a maximum of 20,000 words (10% above or below this word limit is accepted) including notes, bibliography and appendices. The thesis is preferably supervised by a lecturer of the School of Middle Eastern Studies who possesses the appropriate expertise in the field addressed in the thesis. The department ensures that students are put in contact with a lecturer for thesis supervision, preferably at the commencement of the programme. More details on the procedures regarding the MA Thesis can be found in the Brightspace programme module.

Contact Information

Herta Mohr Education Administration Office

+31 (0)71 527 2260

Visiting address (also address for courier services)

Herta Mohr building, second floor, room 2.60
Witte Singel 27A
2311 BG Leiden

Study Adviser/ Education Coordinator

E.G. van Duijnen, MA


Additional course information

Mode of instruction

Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to 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 can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

*Two for a seminar, that has 2 (or 3) hour classes that meet once a week, during the whole semester (2 blocks).

Assessment method

Final marks

Final marks are formed by the weighted average.
In order to pass a course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
Each 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.

Submission and deadline

Students must complete the assignment(s) on time.
Late submissions will result in a deduction of marks for the assignment as follows:
1-24 hs late = -0.5;
24-48 hs late = -1.0;
48-72 hs late = -1.5;
72-96 hs late = -2.0.
Submissions more than 96 hs late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade of 1,0 for the assignment.

The deadline in MyTimetable is set for administrative purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the lecturer(s) in Brightspace.

Inspection and Feedback

Feedback will be supplied primarily through Brightspace. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

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.

ChatGPT: What is possible and what is allowed? Dos and Don'ts.

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 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.

Study Abroad

Students may choose to follow courses at universities abroad. Within the MA Middle Eastern Studies no mandatory Study Abroad semester exists. There are, however, possibilities within exchange programmes and going abroad independently to follow courses at a university in the region. It could offer interesting opportunities to combine, for instance, research for the MA thesis with following courses at a university. In addition, the Netherlands Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC) organizes a MA semester abroad for students interested in Arabic or Islamic studies.

Students who consider to study abroad, are advised to start organizing early. Information can be found on the Study Abroad website. The study abroad coordinator may help you finding out which exchange programmes or other possibilities exist.

The next step is finding courses. The student will have to compose a consistent and coherent programme, consisting of courses on the right difficulty level and with the right study load. Such a programme might contain courses that complement the Leiden University MA Middle Eastern Studies programme and/or might prepare for the MA thesis. To avoid problems on return, this programme has to be approved by the Board of Examiners befóre the student leaves. The student is advised to consult the study-advisor before submitting to the Board of Examiners in case it is necessary to consult with one of the staff members on the chosen courses.

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in the Master Middle Eastern Studies

The programme

How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you’d like to do after graduation?
These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study adviser or the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.


You will be notified via the Faculty website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation.
The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn.
The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service.