Universiteit Leiden

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Middle Eastern Studies (MA)

About the programme

The one-year (60 EC) Master in Middle Eastern Studies provides intensive and comprehensive training. The programme prepares you for a range of careers requiring specialist language, cultural, or political knowledge.

Programme structure

All students start with a common core course of 10 EC, Theories and Methods of Middle Eastern Studies, in their first semester. Besides this course, students can choose courses in historic and contemporary cultures, languages, literatures, and religions, politics and society either covering the Middle East as a whole, or one of the regions of the Middle East in depth. In line with one of the themes in these courses, students write a thesis based on individual academic research and supervised by one of the members of staff of Middle Eastern Studies.

Semester 1 Semester 2
  • Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies: 10 EC
  • Elective courses: 20 EC
  • Elective course(s): 10 EC
  • MA Thesis (20 EC)

Detailed programme

For a more detailed programme, see the Prospectus.

Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, and does not reflect annual changes to the diversity of our curriculum.

The programme is concluded with a Master's thesis of 20 EC.

Some examples of Master's theses written by students in this programme:

  • The Iran-Russia Nexus (Development of Bilateral Relations 2012-2015)
  • Nationality and Ethnicity in the Western Sahara: The Role of Morocco in Shaping Perceptions of Identity
  • Subjects of Stability: Understanding the stability of the Qaboos regime through the views and experiences of Omani students
  • The "ethnic-split" in contemporary Israeli Politics and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
  • Gender and Feminism in post-2009 Iran - Tracing a Pictorial Discourse in Mana Neyestani’s Cartoons
  • Who turns the tap? The impact of non-state actors on the hydro-hegemony of Turkey
  • Can Kurmanjan Datka unite Kyrgyzstan a second time? The film Kurmanjan Datka and nation building in Kyrgyzstan
  • The Warrior in Seclusion (Khalwat). A narrative inquiry on two Persian Sufi tales from 13th c. Khurasan and Anatolia
  • From Hobby Orientalist to Seeking Prominence: The Life, Collection, and Network of Rudolph Said-Ruete (1869–1946)
  • The Power of Feminist Documentaries and the Female Gaze:  A Case Study on Palestinian Women
  • Towards an Understanding of Qur’ān Verse 4:24: On the Role of Vocabulary Choices in English Qur’ān Translations

The programme facilitates and supports extra-curricular internships.  In recent years students have held internships at:

  • Embassies and consulates of the Netherlands in Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague, the Netherlands
  • Dialogue for Common Future Association, Istanbul, Turkey
  • UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Greenpeace, The Netherlands
  • Nederlands Centrum voor Handelsbevordering, The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Leiden University Library
  • Museums in the Netherlands and abroad, for example the Museum Volkenkunde Leiden and the Samarkand State Museum of Cultural History in Uzbekistan
  • The Textile Research Centre Leiden
  • And many more

We also offer a two-years research 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 (research)'s pages.

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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