Universiteit Leiden

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Middle Eastern Studies (research) (MA)

About the programme

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

Core courses

Throughout the programme, you will, together with students of the MA Asian 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.

Research and thesis supervisor

To assist you in making your choices, you are coupled with your research and thesis supervisor, one of the professors involved in the programme who (preferably) works on a topic of interest to you, during the first weeks of your study. Together with your supervisor and the study coordinator you compose a programme which caters to your immediate and future interest.


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.

We also offer a one-year Middle Eastern 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 Middle Eastern Studies' pages.

The aim of the two-year master's in Middle Eastern Studies (Research) is to provide you with in-depth and specialised knowledge within the field of Middle Eastern Studies with the added value provided by a comparative, area studies approach. 

The acquisition of advanced academic skills in the interpretation of texts, the analysis and solution of conceptual problems, and the ability to independently conduct scientific research are other key goals of the programme. Opportunities are provided for students to broaden their academic skills by conducting field research, in archives and/or special collections, occasionally combined with studying subjects at another university.

Course overview

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.

Tsolin Nalbantian

Researcher and University Lecturer

Tsolin Nalbantian

“Students of this master's are surrounded by faculty who are as diverse in their backgrounds as they are in their teaching and research interests. This diverse academic environment encourages students to pursue their own interests, all while being exposed to a wide variety of new experiences and ideas.”

Many career paths

“When it comes to the careers of our graduates, the sky is the limit. Our alumni go on to become journalists, NGO workers, teachers, academics, consultants, and diplomats, to name a few of their many career paths.”

Long-term commitment

“We aim to nurture in our students a long-term commitment to the region and its people. The training our students receive at Leiden provides them with the skills to connect with the people, customs, experiences, and history of the Middle East: skills that are of increasing importance in a great many organisations today.”

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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