Universiteit Leiden

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Korean Studies (MA) (120EC)

About the programme

The two-year master's in Korean Studies, a specialisation of Leiden University’s master's in Asian Studies, offers a large and varied selection of subjects and the freedom to choose the areas upon which you will focus.

The programme is held over two years and divided into the following structure:

The first semester of the programme is held in Leiden. You will have the chance to follow a number of courses offered through the Asian Studies master’s programme. To a large degree, this programme concentrates on cultural and cultural-historical themes such as globalisation and frontier-cultures in Asia. It also examines Asian philosophies such as Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. Language training aims to develop in students a strong command of Korean, and focuses on broad and practical applications, such as situations in which graduates will find themselves in their professional lives.

The first semester consists of the core courses ‘Introduction to Asian Studies’ and ‘Thesis and Methods Class’, both of which are compulsory for students of the master's in Asian Studies. In addition, you will take Advanced Korean language courses and choose elective courses with a focus on Korea.

Two semesters of the programme will be spent at one of Leiden’s partner universities in Korea, where you will develop your language skills through intensive study courses. At the end of the third semester, your language-level – and thus your subsequent course choice – will be based upon the results of internationally-recognised exams in Korean as a foreign language (or exams held at Leiden at the beginning of the semester).

During your final semester, much time of your time will be devoted to writing and writing skills. You will also receive more advanced language training, focusing on practical applications of Korean of the kind that will arise in a professional setting, and developing your reading skills. At the end of the programme, you will produce a master’s thesis based on original research that will include the use of primary materials in Korean and a review of professional literature on the topic of your research.

The objective of the programme is to ensure that you graduate with:

  • A high level of fluency in the Korean language.
  • A broad knowledge of Korea and the ability to analyse Korean issues from other perspectives (such as Asia in general or Western Europe).
  • An overview and understanding of the history of Korean Studies and its current developments.
  • The interaction of Korean Studies with such disciplines as:
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Art history
    • Social Sciences
    • Literature
    • Religion
  • The ability to carry out independent research at an academic level.
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Study abroad options
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports
  • 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.

Koen De Ceuster

Researcher and University Lecturer

Koen De Ceuster

"Korea is not only an object of study, but also a site of critical knowledge production. We do not only ask what we can know, but how we can know."

Mark Rutgers


Mark Rutgers

“Many of our master’s students discover the quality of our programmes only after they join us. In the Netherlands, self-promotion is not a big part of our culture, yet Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty ranks alongside the most prestigious universities in the world, and is the established leader in continental Europe. What can our students expect from this programme? An education on par with the world’s best, with teaching by top researchers.”

Alumni: close-knit global community

“Your graduation from a master’s programme marks a new chapter in your relationship with Leiden University. Our alumni community is highly active in terms of network-building and development. They are valued by the university, and we support them with personal and professional development and free use of our facilities such as the Leiden University Library. This close-knit global community offers life-long support for all our former students in terms of reaching goals, maintaining friendships and expanding networks.”

Research: encouraging you to think beyond your own discipline

“Some of the most high-profile humanities research produced today is conducted at Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty. These faculty members are among a handful worldwide who can lay claim to such a depth and breadth of academic expertise. One example is our centre of excellence on Native American cultures, languages and history – a research group that is one of the best in the world. At Leiden, we can offer students expertise in most niche areas of interest. Our faculty members often work together across disciplines, and encourage students to think beyond the limits of their own discipline, which is where the future of innovative research lies.”

Careers: opportunities to develop your talent

Decisions made during your studies have a big impact on your future. We offer you many opportunities to develop your talents both within and outside of the classroom, including internships, study trips abroad, student committees, and minors. These opportunities help define your objectives for after your studies, and equip you with additional skills and experience.”

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