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Asian Studies (Research MA)

About the programme

The two-year research master in Asian Studies equips you with advanced and in-depth knowledge in a region or discipline within the field of Asian Studies.

First year

Throughout the programme, you will, together with students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research), participate in two core courses. These include:

  • Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research – which covers theories and issues central to the field of area studies and examines key writings on the challenges of studying and writing about “other” cultures and societies.
  • Methodology in the Social Sciences and Humanities -  which critically explores the multitude of methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

In addition to the core courses you will choose core elective and elective courses specific to either Asian Studies or Middle Eastern Studies. You can also combine courses from each of these two master's programmes, from other (Research) MA programmes and/or courses from national Research Schools.

To assist you in making your choices, you are coupled with a “consultant”, one of the professors involved in the programme who (preferably) works on a topic of interest to you during the first weeks of their study. Together with your “consultant” you composes a programme which caters to your immediate and future interest.

Second year

You are expected to spend the third semester of the programme abroad doing fieldwork and/or studying at an affiliated institution.

After your return from Fieldwork or Study Abroad, your work on your MA-Thesis. The process of writing is supported by a “Thesis Seminar” which is obligatory and offered bi-weekly. During this seminar, you discuss relevant issues with your peers and present your research and writings to them, to your supervisor and the convenor of the seminar.

We also offer a one-year and another two-years Asian Studies programme.

Apart from the contents, there can be other arguments to choose for either a master’s or a research master’s programme. Have a look at the table in pdf for a quick overview of the differences. For more details on the contents, also visit the master’s in Asian Studies' (60 EC) and master’s in Asian Studies (120 EC) pages. 

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Internship options
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports and final thesis
  • Oral presentations

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, see the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Jonathan Silk

Professor of Buddhist Studies

Jonathan Silk

“Leiden University has incredible strengths – it is possible, for instance, to study Buddhism across the whole of Asia.”

Access to famous libraries

"The library of our Kern Institute, the national centre of expertise for South Asia and the Himalayan region, is famous around the world for its excellent resources on South Asia and Tibet, while the library at the Sinological Institute is second to none in Europe for the depth and breadth of its collections."

Reading Buddhist texts

"I teach introductory courses on Buddhism, and advanced thematic seminars on various topics. And of course, I always love to read Buddhist texts with students in their original languages as well as in translation. The study of Buddhism should be a dynamic synthesis of factual knowledge and critical perspectives, and the Leiden master’s programme offers students just this approach."

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