Turkish Studies

If you are interested in Turkey in the widest sense, ranging from history to linguistics, from literature to art and material culture, this master’s specialisation offers excellent opportunities to deepen your knowledge and academic skills in Turkish Studies.

You can gain insight into the dynamics of modernisation in Turkey, with an eye to the legacy of the past as well as the long term political, social, economic and cultural developments.

Through our links with the Turkish academic and intellectual world you will have the possibility to participate in a continuous exchange of up-to-date knowledge of the field. With its wide range of topics and its international student body, the programme creates an interesting and stimulating international study environment for anybody interested in pursuing a degree in Middle Eastern Studies with a focus on Turkish Studies.

The programme includes courses offered by specialists on:

  • Ottoman and modern Turkish history
  • Social history of Central Asia and the Caucasus
  • Linguistics
  • Cultural history and art and material culture
  • Literature and performing arts
  • Minorities and Christian communities in the Middle East

Since the start of the programme Turkish Studies, students from all over the world have come to Leiden University to pursue their studies in this field. Leiden University’s Turkish Studies programme is offered by one of the largest research and teaching departments in the field of Middle Eastern Studies in Europe.

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It is also possible to focus on Turkish Studies within the two-year Research Master’s programme Middle Eastern Studies.

Check out the programme in Turkish Studies

Master details

  • Dit is een afstudeerrichting van: Middle Eastern Studies
  • Graad Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies
  • Onderwijsvorm Full-time
  • Duur 1 year
  • Start September, February
  • Taal English
  • Vestigingsplaats Leiden
  • Croho/isatcode 60842

Bezoek Turkish Studies op

The Master thesis of...

Alexander Wielemaker

Alexander Wielemaker investigated Istanbul’s network of public fountains. It proved to be a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the Ottoman Sultan.

The Sultan’s mind
My research focuses on Istanbul’s network of public fountains, which at the time provided the local population with clean drinking water. Their architecture, ornaments and calligraphic inscriptions make these buildings imposing monuments to power and status. Their construction was financed by the Sultan, his concubines, high officials, Islamic scholars or eunuchs. Linking the sponsors to their fountains makes it possible to discover how each of them chose to express their status and personality. It’s fascinating, like being given a glimpse into the mind of the Sultan or that of one of his eunuchs.

Philanthropy and jealousy
Rich Ottomans would donate one of these fountains to the city out of (Islamic) charity, but they were also aware of the fact that their gift would benefit their credibility and popularity. That is why the design of these fountains was subject to such strict rules. If the calligraphy was one line too long or the ornaments too exuberant for your status, shame and a prison sentence would be your lot. The Sultan was the only one who was free to decorate his constructions as grotesquely as he wished.

Political architecture
The underlying idea is that all cultural expressions, whether high or low, tell us something about how people think and how they view life. What is relevant to my research is the fact that architecture and water distribution were used for political purposes, namely to express power and status. Art and architecture are therefore not simply ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’; they also carry a message. This raises the question: to what extent is this still true in today’s world?

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