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 understanding the complexity of the region’s history, languages, and cultures in the context of its rapidly developing economies? This is your programme!

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."

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."

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."

Why study South and Southeast Asian Studies

In the South and Southeast Asian programme you gain a thorough understanding of the history, cultures, politics and languages of the region, home to almost a third of the world’s population (and two-thirds of its Muslims) and 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. 

South and Southeast Asian Studies at Leiden University

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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).

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 for you!

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