Universiteit Leiden

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Middle Eastern Studies (MA)

About the programme

Our teaching faculty are active researchers whose work in the field of Middle Eastern Studies ranks among the most widely-cited and published research in the world.

They are excited to share with you the latest results from their own projects, or that of their colleagues at Leiden or partners from their international network, incorporating into courses within the master’s programme in Middle Eastern Studies these newest research findings.

The master’s programme in Middle Eastern Studies offers six specialisations each offering common courses and specialisation courses. You can also opt to choose courses from other specialisations (subject to the approval of the board of examiners).

While the master’s programme in Middle Eastern Studies offers multiple courses on modern day global and local issues at stake in the Middle East, it also offers courses on the historical and cultural background of the region.

Guest speakers from other universities and organisations regularly come to Leiden to share their thoughts on their work. Their talks cover a wide range of topics: from academic work on premodern Middle East societies to hands-on, in-the-field experiences regarding contemporary issues. 

  • Seminars
  • Self-study
  • Internship (optional)
  • Papers
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports
  • Oral presentations
  • Final thesis

Detailed programme

For a detailed curriculum, please visit the programme information for each of the Middle Eastern Studies master’s specialisations.

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.”

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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