Asian Studies (Research), 2018-2019

More information can be found under the tab “More info” and on the department’s website.

Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).


Note: ‘ Semester 1’ stands for Fall semester and ‘ Semester 2’ for Spring semester.

Elective courses

The courses listed are, in principle, open to all students admitted to the MA Asian Studies (research). However, some of them may have additional entry requirements such as, for example, a particular level of language sufficiency. Please, refer to the course descriptions for further details.

Meer info

Programme Details
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
Contact Information

Programme Details

Title: Master of Arts
Duration: 2 years, full-time
Start dates: September and February
Language of instruction: English
Responsibility: Programme director Master Asian Studies (research), Prof. Dr. J.A. Silk


This research master provides core training in an Area Studies approach to knowledge, opportunities for the development of disciplinary skills (politics, history, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.), and possibilities to build upon regional and language specialisation (such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Sanskrit, and Tibetan). Master students in Asian Studies develop sophisticated theoretical and methodological tools for scholarly reflexivity as well as tools specific for their research projects – which may be framed in more conventionally disciplinary and regional terms. They are guided to understand the parameters of the various disciplines and the ways in which they may be creatively combined into sophisticated forms of inter-disciplinarity, suitable to their subject matter. Students develop in-depth knowledge of one of the regions of Asia (East Asia, South or Southeast Asia [including Tibet]), and/or a transregional/comparative perspective that tracks particular themes through their relationship with ‘areas.’



Preferably during the first weeks after the start of their studies, the students of the MA Asian Studies (research) are coupled with a “consultant”, one of the professors involved in the programme who (preferably) works on a topic of interest to the individual student. Together with his or her “consultant” the student composes a programme which caters to her or his interest.

Common Core Courses

The programme consists of four semesters with a course load of 30 EC each. The courses have a weight of 10 EC each (some language courses have a weight of 5 EC) and students generally follow three courses per semester. During the first year students have to take two Common Core Courses: ‘Theory and Issues of Area Studies’ (Fall Semester) and ‘Methods in Area Studies’ (Spring Semester). These courses are obligatory for students of both the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and the MA Asian Studies (research) and attended by them jointly.

Core Electives and Electives

Besides these Common Core Courses students take elective courses. The programme offers two kinds of electives: “core electives” and “electives”. Every student needs to choose at least one “core elective” in each semester.
These core electives are courses which are also attended by regular MA students, but they aim at the same time at offering an extra intellectual challenge to the students of the research MA: during the course more challenging literature is read and extra tutorials are offered by the convernors of the courses to discuss the literature read. Moreover, the assignments are assessed at a higher level to cater to the higher intellectual need of research MA students. The remaining regular “electives” are courses attended jointly with the students of the regular MAs and lack the extra challenges offered by the “core electives”.
It is also possible to take courses from other programmes, but when students choose to do so, they need to obtain approval from the Board of Examiners first. Students should be aware, though, that for some of the courses a certain level of knowledge of a particular language is required (see course descriptions).

Fieldwork / Study Abroad

Students are expected to spend the third semester of the programme abroad doing fieldwork and/or studying at an affiliated institution.

The last semester: Thesis Writing Seminar and MA-Thesis

After their return from Fieldwork or Study Abroad, the students write their MA-Thesis. The process of writing is supported by a “Thesis Seminar” which is obligatory and offered bi-weekly. Students present their research during this seminar and discuss relevant issues with their peers.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In the third semester students start working on their individual research (and if they want to do fieldwork in the third semester, even earlier). This will result in a master’s thesis. The thesis must be based on the student’s own research, including primary data. Whether this material is gathered during fieldwork and/or a study-abroad period depends on the road chosen by the student. The fourth semester is entirely reserved for the writing of the thesis. During this semester, the students gather on a regular base under the guidance of Prof. E.J. Zürcher in the Thesis Writing Seminar to discuss their progress. This “course” has a weight of 5 EC and is obligatory for all students in the fourth semester. In order to graduate, students need to have successfully completed the 120 EC programme including having completed the thesis (25 EC) as part of that programme. The thesis should be related to the expertise of at least one of the members of staff involved in the programme.

Contact Information

Mailing address

MA Middle Eastern Studies programme
Secretariat Vrieshof 4, rm 112a
P.O.Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands

Visiting address (also address for courier services)

Matthias de Vrieshof 4, 2311BZ Leiden
Witte Singel 25, 2311BG Leiden


Matthias de Vrieshof 4, room 112a
Phone +31 (0)71 527 2253

Coordinator/Student adviser

N.A.N.M. van Os, PhD
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2937
Office hours: upon appointment on Mondays (until 13.00 hs), Tuesdays, Wednesdays

Start of your studies

Frequently asked questions about the start of the study MA Middle Eastern Studies.

Does the department have an introductory programme?
Directions and map
How do I get hold of my prospectus and lecture timetable?
Is there anything more I need to do to complete my enrolment?
Registration for courses
Where can I buy my study books and study material?
Where do I go for any further information I may need?

Does the department have an introductory programme?

Yes, we will organise a compulsory Introduction Day for the MA Asian Studies (research) programme in Leiden on Thursday, 31 January, 2019.

Programme Introductory Meeting MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and MA Asian Studies (research), Thursday, 31 January, 2019.

Time Activity Who Room
10.00 – 10.30 hrs Coffee and Cookies All MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and MA Asian Studies (research) students VRIESH4 / Café Noord
10.30 – 11.15 hrs Welcome & general info on the programme All MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and MA Asian Studies (research) students VRIESH4 /007
11.15 - 12.00 hrs Information on courses All MA Middle Eastern Studies and MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) students VRIESH4 / 008A
12.00 - 13.00 hrs Lunch All MA Middle Eastern Studies, MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) students and MA Asian Studies (research) VRIESH4 / Café Noord
1Friday, 1 February, 15.00 – 16.00 hrs Information on courses All MA Asian Studies and MA Asian Studies (research) students Lipsius 011

Directions and map

Directions on how to get from Leiden Central Station to the Faculty of Humanities.

Most rooms are situated at the Witte Singel Doelen-Complex, the location of the Faculties of Humanities.

How do I get hold of my prospectus and lecture timetable?

You can find the courses for the academic year 2018-2019 and the detailed course descriptions in the e-Prospectus. Find your programme under A(Asian Studies (research)) to view all courses on offer. The timetables are available on the programme website.

For information on the exam periods, (official) holidays, etc see the Academic Calendar 2018-2019.

Is there anything more I need to do to complete my enrolment?

If the Admissions Office sent you a conditional decision upon admission, please make sure that all documents, as listed in your admission statement, are handed in before 1 February. Only if you are a graduate from Leiden University, you do not have to hand in a certified diploma or statement regarding your graduation.

Registration for courses

Once your registration with Leiden University is complete and you have received your Student Identity Number, log in name and password, you will be able to enroll online for all courses (and later for exams) through uSis. You will also have to enroll for courses at Blackboard.

Where can I buy my study books and study material?

To find out what books you will need for next year, you can visit the e-Prospectus. Here you will find the course descriptions of the courses you will be taking, with the required literature.

Where do I go for any further information I may need?

General information on the programme is available at the Asian Studies (research) (MA) website. You will have to log in the first time you visit this page. Once you have done this your cookies will enable you to enter this page further without problems. At this website you will find, for example, the timetable of the forthcoming semester.
For questions related to more general issues of registration, housing and other practicalities around your coming to Leiden and Leiden University, please, refer to the university's FAQ base.

For any other questions you may contact the student advisor, Ms. Nicole van Os.