Universiteit Leiden

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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 of a region and discipline within the field of Asian Studies.

Programme structure

Course EC
Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research 10
Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities 10
LIAS PhD Seminar: Decolonisation in Academia 5
LIAS PhD Seminar: Listening and Hearing in Research 5
Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese (ResMA) 5
China's International Political Economy (ResMA) 10
Comparative Asian Linguistics (ResMA) 10
Cultural Heritage in East-Asia: Dealing with the Past in the Present and Future (ResMA) 10
Democratizing Histories (ResMA) 10
Economic Development and Social Change in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Histories of Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
Lives on the Margins: Korean Peninsula Migration and Identity (ResMA) 10
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia (ResMA) 10
Religious Syncretism and the Study of Southeast Asian Cultures (ResMA) 10
Topical Readings in Classical Japanese (ResMA) 10
Topics in Chinese Art History, Things and Paths: Approaches to Chinese Art and Material Culture (ResMA) 10
Topics in Modern Chinese History (ResMA) 10
LIAS PhD Seminar: Themes in Global Political Economy 5
LIAS PhD Seminar: Identity and Resistance in a Global Context 5
Approaches to East Asian Cinema (ResMA) 10
China and Global Cyberspace (ResMA) 10
China-Africa Relations in a Changing Global Order (ResMA) 10
Contemporary Indian Politics (ResMA) 10
Creativity and Culture in Contemporary China (ResMA) 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants (ResMA) 10
Cultures of Resistance: South Asia and the World (ResMA) 10
Ecofeminism in Island Asia and Oceania (ResMA) 10
The Gulf and Arabian Peninsula: Power, Class, Mobilities (ResMA) 10
Hands-on Museum Research Experience (ResMA) 10
Oral Traditions (ResMA) 10
The Past in the Present: Nation-building in Modern China (ResMA) 10
Political Economy of South East Asia (ResMA) 10
Politics of Culture in Southeast Asia (ResMA) 10
The Politics of Destruction: Targeting World Heritage (ResMA) 10
Sinographics: Chinese writing and writing Chinese (ResMA) 10
Topical Readings in Historical and Literary Chinese Texts (ResMA) 10
From Welfare through Work to Work without Welfare? Japan’s Changing Welfare Regime in Global and Regional Comparison (ResMA) 10
Word and Image in Premodern Japanese Culture (ResMA) 10
Research Project (Fieldwork) (ResMA) 20-30
Research MA Thesis (Middle Eastern Studies, Asian Studies) 30
Thesis Writing Seminar 0
Beyond Discipline and Place in the Social Sciences and the Humanities 0
What's Next? First Steps in Crafting Your Career (MA) 2
Elective courses
Course EC
Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese 5
Advanced Mandarin 1 10
Advanced Mandarin 2 5
Advanced Japanese 1 (60EC) 10
Advanced Japanese 2 (60EC) 5
Advanced Readings in Sanskrit Literature 10
Hindi Literature 10
Leiden Elective Academic Periodical 10
Mandarijn Ia 15
Hindi 1 10
Indonesian 1 10
Applied linguistics 1a: Conversation & Listening Skills 3
Applied Linguistics 1a: Kanji 2
Structure: Japanese Grammar 1a 5
Texts 1a 5
Korean 1 15
Persian Language and Culture 1 10
Sanskrit 1 10
Tibetan 1 10
Information Visualization and the Humanities 5
Exploring the Past in the Digital Present 5
Special Topics in Digital Humanities 5
Digital Humanities and Digital Natives 5
Digital Media, Culture and Society 5
Introduction to Experimental Methods for the Humanities 5
Statistics for the Humanities (Statistics I) 5
Digital Text and Data Analysis 5

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.

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.

Second year

You are expected to spend the third semester of the programme doing research, either in the Netherlands or abroad. Blended and virtual research-based options are also available. 

After you have finished your research project, you work on your MA Thesis. The process of writing is supported by a “Thesis Seminar” which is offered bi-weekly. During this seminar, you discuss relevant issues with your peers and present your research and writings to them and to the convenor of the seminar. Once you have finished your thesis and have received a passing grade, you will defend your thesis publicly.

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. 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.”

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."

Admission and application

Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's Programme?

Check the entry requirements

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