Universiteit Leiden

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Asian Studies (MA)

About the programme

Asian Studies at Leiden University is unparalleled in the Netherlands and combines the very best of Asia-related research in North-West Europe.

Asian Studies programmes

The specialisations Chinese StudiesJapanese Studies, and Korean Studies are two years in duration and offer the possibility of an in-depth analysis of one country in East Asia. They each require advanced proficiency in the relevant language.

All three programmes require the completion of a bachelor’s degree in Chinese studies, Japanese studies or Korean studies, depending on the programme. Disciplinary specialisation is at the core of each, and involves the development of fluent classical or modern language skills. You will spend a year at a university in the relevant country, and write an MA thesis. Places in these specialisations are limited.

The specialisation East Asian Studies is a one-year programme that offers the possibility of in-depth analysis of one country in East Asia, either China, Japan, or Korea, in fields such as history, sociology, philosophy, economics, linguistics, politics and international relations.

Advanced knowledge of an East Asian language is required. The programme is similar to that of the related two-year specialisations, but with the advantage of allowing you to choose from a broader range of elective courses, including those on other Asian regions or countries outside the area of your specialisation, and also provides options for internships of two or three months.

The specialisations History, Arts and Culture of Asia, and Politics, Society and Economy of Asia are one-year specialisations that take a thematic approach to Asian Studies. Knowledge of a relevant language is not required, although you have the option of learning one of the many Asian languages taught at Leiden University.

History, Arts and Culture of Asia takes a humanities approach to pre-modern, modern or contemporary Asia. Politics, Society and Economy of Asia takes a social sciences approach to modern or contemporary Asia. You are free to choose a specific region or to cover all Asian regions.

The specialisations South Asia and Southeast Asia are one year in duration and focus on a particular region. Knowledge of a relevant language is not required, although some individual courses require knowledge of a classical or modern South or Southeast Asian language. Students have the option of learning one of the many Asian languages taught at Leiden University.

South Asian Studies focuses on pre-modern, modern or contemporary South Asia, in fields such as history, literature or religious studies. The focus of the programme is on India and Sri Lanka. Southeast Asian Studies focuses on one or more aspects of Southeast Asia, such as history, literature or religious studies.

We also offer the 2-year Research Master Asian Studies.

Master or Research Master?

Apart from the study content, 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 Research Master Asian Studies website.

Course overview

For a detailed programme, check the Prospectus where you can find more information on the courses offered in the various Asian Studies programmes.

Please note that the guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Ethan Mark

Senior University Lecturer

Ethan Mark

“I try to encourage my students to think critically by pushing them to interrogate the categories through which we think and by which we describe the world: where they came from, what forces constructed them, and for what purposes.”

“In a world in which we are so often confronted with the appearance of essential differences, I seek to stimulate an awareness of the interconnectedness of our identities and our histories, informed by an awareness of history itself not as a single narrative of objective facts, but as a field of ongoing contestation between competing narratives and competing political agendas.”

Admission and application

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

Check the entry requirements for the Asian Studies specialisations

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