Middle Eastern Studies (research)


Core courses

Throughout the two-year programme, you will participate in three compulsory core courses, that bring all students of the Asian Studies and Middle Eastern Studies research master’s together.

  1. ‘Theory and Issues in Area Studies’ in the first semester will provide you with the theoretical and methodological tools that are common to the field of Area Studies, and will equip you to engage in professional debates about the significance and utility of these tools in different fields.
  2. The second semester offers two core courses, of which you will pick one depending on your thematic focus. One course focuses on the deployment of socio-scientific methods in Area Studies, and the other is centered around the deployment of cultural studies methods in Area Studies.
  3. The third semester contains a final core element, focused on concrete research skills and academic writing in Area Studies.
  4. In the fourth semester you will be writing your thesis and following thesis writing workshops, and presentations.

Specialisations in Asian Studies (research)

The common core courses are complemented by courses that are specific to either Asian Studies or Middle Eastern Studies. These courses give you ample opportunity to make individually motivated choices. Depending on the content of the course, it is also possible to combine elements of Asian Studies with Middle Eastern Studies or vice versa.


You will conclude your research master’s programme with a thesis, which, in summary form, may be suitable for consideration as a publishable scholarly article. The thesis will be central to your formal examination, in which you will be expected to give a presentation that meets the standards of international conferences. You will start working on your thesis by semester three, and continue writing the whole of semester four. In semester four you will also participate in thesis writing workshops, presentations etc. as part of your training.

For the most up to date course overview, see the e-Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

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Master details

  • Graad Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies (research)
  • Onderwijsvorm Full-time
  • Duur 2 years
  • Start September, February
  • Taal English
  • Vestigingsplaats Leiden
  • Croho/isatcode 60843

A word from student Farah

Farah Bazzi

“Understanding the present situation starts with understanding the history”

“Already having a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Bachelors in Middle Eastern Studies, I wanted to choose a master’s that would combine both interests, and prepare me for a PhD. The research master’s was the ideal choice because it is so interdisciplinary. As a student, you have a lot of freedom to put together your own programme. It’s a small-scale master’s with just 25 students, so you have more intensive contact with the lecturers.

I’m interested in the Levant, and specifically Lebanon and Syria. For my thesis research I examined how France influenced the development of sectarian political identities during the period when the area was under French rule (1920-1945). There are always conflicting ideas in these countries about how the country should be run, and by whom. An example is the conflict between (Lebanese and Syrian) nationalists and those who favour a pan-Arabic world. It’s important to remember that there are 18 different minorities living in Lebanon, a country that is less than half the size of the Netherlands. The sectarian political identities, that developed during the Mandate period, are still at the heart of the conflict today.

With my research I want to look beyond the nationalist discourse and come to a different interpretation of Lebanese history. There are many different factors that play a role in the present conflict. If we want to explain the current situation in both Lebanon and Syria, we need to have a good understanding of the history of the region.

In the third semester there’s the opportunity to do some fieldwork. For me, that will mean delving into the archives of the League of Nations in Geneva for some original material from the period.

In this master’s you learn to put the Middle East in its global context. The programme gives you the intellectual baggage you need to go on to take a PhD.”

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