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Vak 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.

Cultures and Societies in the Middle East: Past and Present in Arabic Literature (in Translation) 10
Discovering the Ancients: Historiography, Historicism, and Irans Encounters with Modernity 10
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia 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
Social and Cultural History of the Middle East: the Ottoman Empire (1300-1922) 10
The Gulf and Arabian Peninsula: Power, Class, Mobilities 10
The Making of the Modern Middle East (1870-1940) 10
The MENA Region in the Settler Colonial World 10
The Middle East in the International Political Economy 10
`Ulamâ' in the Modern Muslim World 10
War, Peace, and Mass Media: The Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Public Sphere 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
In the Time of Cities: Space, Place, and Politics in the Urban Middle East 10
Political History of the Middle East in the 20th Century 10
Themes in Arabic Literature: Bandits and Outlaws 10
The Politics of Heritage in the Middle East 10
The Power of Words: Discourse and Society in the Middle East 10
Power and Resistance in the Modern Middle East 10
MA course(s) in Turkey

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

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) 5 or 10
Ottoman Turkish (Spring) 5 or 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
What's Next? First Steps in Crafting Your Career (MA) 2

More info


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 East and Islamic 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 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

Education administration offices

Phone +31 (0)71 527 2253

Visiting address (also address for courier services)

Matthias de Vrieshof 4, 2311BZ Leiden
Witte Singel 25, 2311BG Leiden

Coordinator of Studies

E.G. van Duijnen, MA


Start of your Studies

Frequently asked questions about the start of the study MA Middle Eastern Studies.

Does the department have an introductory programme?

Yes, we will organise a compulsory on campus introductory meeting for the MA Middle Eastern Studies programme on Tuesday, September 7 at 13:00 hrs.

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 e-Prospectus. Find your programme under Middle Eastern Studies to view all courses on offer.

For information on the exam periods, (official) holidays, etc see the Academic Calendar

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

If the Admissions Office sent you a conditional decision upon admission, please make sure that all documents, as listed in your admission statement, are handed in before 1 September. Only if you are a graduate from Leiden University, you do not have to hand in a certified diploma or statement regarding your graduation.

Registration for courses

Once your registration 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 through uSis.

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 e-Prospectus. Here you will find the course descriptions of the courses you will be taking, with the required literature.

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

General information on the programme is available at the Middle Eastern Studies (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 Coordinator of studies, Eli van Duijnen.

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 coordinator, 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 course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of Religious Studies include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.
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.