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First Year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
The Commentary 10
The Languages of Ancient West Asia 10
The Society of Mesopotamia and Anatolia 10
Master's Thesis 20
Religion and Science in West Asia before the Greeks 10

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Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation


Graduates of the one-year master’s programme in Languages and Cultures of
Mesopotamia and Anatolia are ideally suited to pursue junior researcher positions
both in academic and semi-academic working environments. They are fully trained
academics, capable of solving research problems independently and in a critical and
creative manner, as well as reporting on the results of their research convincingly, both
orally and in writing. In the course of the programme, they acquire a complete overview
of the language, culture and archaeology of the chosen area within Mesopotamia or
Anatolia, at the level required for a one-year master’s graduate. The courses are offered
in close collaboration with scholars from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), the
Catholic University Leuven in Belgium and the University of Münster in Germany.
The programme aims to raise students to a level of knowledge and skills that allows them
to proceed to PhD research. Alternatively, graduates qualify for positions outside the
university that require an academic level of thinking.



The master’s programme in Languages and Cultures of Mesopotamia and Anatolia
consists of two semesters of 30 ects each. In the first semester, students take three courses
of 10 ects. In the second semester, they take one more course of 10 ects and write their
master’s thesis. The curriculum is structured in such a way that the courses become
increasingly difficult as the programme progresses.

The focus of the first semester is on coursework. One of the three courses on offer,
‘Sources & Methods’, is a general disciplinary course dealing with the entire Middle-
Eastern region. This course focuses on the relevance (or lack thereof) of contemporary
theories, concepts and models from the social sciences for historical and literary
research. Students are familiarized with a variety of methods they can use to gather and
interpret information from various sources. For their first literature seminar, students
choose between three courses offered by the Department. The second literature seminar
is selected from the courses offered by the foreign universities collaborating with the
department in this programme.

In the second semester, students take the Master Class ‘Religion and Science in West Asia
before the Greeks’, taught by lecturers of the Department as well as a number of visiting
lecturers. This course focuses on the cult and various other disciplines that are seen as
(pre)-science, such as astronomy, lexicography, divination, etc. Also during the second
semester, students write a master’s thesis carrying 20 ects.
Courses outside Leiden University

In the first semester, students choose two out of three literature seminars offered (each
worth 10 ects), one at Leiden University and the other at one of the sister universities.
The sister universities are the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam and the Universities
of Ghent and Leuven in Belgium, and Münster and Heidelberg in Germany. Students
who choose a university within the Netherlands or Belgium might have to travel in order
to attend the course. If, on the other hand, a student chooses a course in Germany, the
course will take place during a visit of the relevant lecturer to the Netherlands. Funds are
available to cover travel expenses of both students and lecturers.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have completed a total of 60 ects, including courses
and the master’s thesis. The thesis of the master’s programme in Languages and Cultures
of Mesopotamia and Anatolia carries 20 ects and generally consists of a maximum of
17,000 words, including notes, bibliography and appendices.
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