Universiteit Leiden

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South and Southeast Asian Studies (BA)

South and Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic and diverse areas. Interested in speaking one of its major languages, and understanding its history, culture, and current affairs? Then this is the programme for you!

South and Southeast Asian Studies at Leiden University

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The city centre of Leiden is covered in them: wall poems. When roaming around, you come across poetry written in the Latin alphabet, but also in scripts that might be more difficult to understand for the average person visiting Leiden, like the Buginese or Javanese script. In a new series of videos, linguist Tijmen Pronk talks more about this. Continue reading.

Why study South and Southeast Asian Studies

In the South and Southeast Asian Studies programme you gain a thorough understanding of the history, cultures, and politics of a region which is home to almost a third of the world’s population (including two-thirds of its Muslims) and to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Relevant contemporary issues such as ethnic and religious conflicts, inequality and development, the surge in cultural and political movements and the tensions between modernity and tradition are addressed in lectures and seminars. 

Why South and Southeast Asian Studies at Leiden University?

  • The Leiden University programme is unique: the only bachelor’s in the Netherlands where you can study languages and cultures of the region at a multidisciplinary, academic level.
  • You specialise in the areas and aspects that interest you most and learn a language like Hindi or Sanskrit as part of your studies.
  • You have access to the world-renowned Asian collection at Leiden University Library, as well as to the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS).

Giacomo Canetta


Giacomo Canetta

"I've always been interested in discovering new cultures, seeing how people's ways of living can differ. That's why I was looking for a programme with anthropological, cultural and psychological elements. South and Southeast Asian Studies proved to unite all of them. My travel experiences through Asia made the choice even easier. The programme, of course, covers a large area, but South and South-East Asia is a dynamic area that is enormously evolving, which makes it hugely exciting."

Yara van Holten


Yara van Holten

"The South and Southeast Asia Studies programme focuses on other cultures. A lot of attention is given to foreign cultures and how they differ from our own: we are used to many other habits and customs. During my bachelor’s I travelled to Indonesia to work on my language skills and familiarise myself with the culture. This experience taught me a great deal in terms of how to adapt to different cultures, a skill that comes in handy in my current job where I am regularly working with international students and staff."

Sanjunkta Sunderason

University Lecturer

Sanjunkta Sunderason

"The core of our study programme is its regional approach, which is also what makes it stand out from the study programmes of other universities. We offer a regional perspective and have a broad range of in-house expertise, which allows us to include the classical, modern and contemporary periods in our curriculum. We also work extensively with teams from the region itself, and even try to bring different areas of the world into contact with one another."

Is this programme for you?

In this programme you gain the academic, language, and practical skills essential to research, analyse, understand, and formulate creative answers to the tough questions arising from this dynamic region. Are you:

  • Fascinated by the historical context and  emerging possibilities of this region?
  • Want to specialise in one country or area, diving deep into specific issues?
  • Want to learn from the top academics and lecturers in the field?
  • Looking to broaden your perspectives by studying with international students?

Then South and Southeast Asian Studies is the programme for you! Check out the programme structure

Online Experience South and Southeast Asian Studies

Want to know if this is the right study for you? Check out our online experience and find out more. This experience consists of online mini-courses with a few assignments.
Take the online experience!

Sanskrit wall poem in Leiden

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There are hundreds of writing systems in the world. Some of these are commonly known, like our Latin alphabet, the Arabic script, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese characters. But what do you know about the Devanagari script? Check out Dr. Tijmen Pronk's introduction to the writing system of a poem in Sanskrit. The poem is part of the famous Leiden Wall Poems.

Chat with a student

Do you have a question about studying at leiden University or student life in Leiden? Do you want more information about the South and Southeast Asian Studies programme? Chat with a current student for answers to your questions!

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