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COVID-19 update: This course will start online and continue on campus later. Read more

What will I learn?

Designed for high-achieving students, Leiden University's master's in Middle Eastern Studies (Research) offers you unmatched resources and expertise.

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Leiden University has a reputation for a breadth and depth of expertise that is unmatched in Europe. You can explore subjects that span virtually the entire Middle East both in time and geography.

Flexibility to construct your own programme

This two-year research master's programme allows you to freely combine subjects from seven focus areas: Turkish Studies; Arabic Studies; North African Studies; Persian Studies; Islam; Eastern Christianity; and Modern Middle Eastern Studies.

Focus on a region such as the Arab world, North Africa or the Persian world, or on a discipline such as history, politics, literature or languages across a region. A key feature is our comparative approach to learning, which includes intra-Middle Eastern comparisons.

During the Middle Eastern Studies research master’s programme you will take three compulsory core courses:

  • Theory and Issues in Area Studies provides you with the theoretical tools used in the field of Area Studies.
  • Mixed Methods, in the second semester, introduces you to a variety of methods you will find useful to deploy yourself, or with which familiarity will be useful in making use of the work of others.
  • A final core element during your third semester focuses on developing your research and academic writing skills in Areas Studies.

Core courses are complemented by courses specific to either Asian Studies or Middle Eastern Studies. You have the possibility of combining courses from both.

Your research MA is concluded with the writing of a thesis, which, in summarised form, could be published in an academic journal. Your thesis is central to your formal examination, during which you will present and defend your thesis.

Additional courses develop your academic skills to an advanced level. You also have the opportunity to conduct field research in the Middle East or study courses at another top university.

Leiden University's Humanities Faculty was recently ranked 25th in the Times Higher Education worldwide ranking.

Career prospects

Our graduates have pursued successful careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Graduates have also gone on to pursue a PhD and a career in academia. If you wish to pursue an academic career, your master's is excellent preparation for a PhD programme or a career in a research agency or the research department of a company or government organisation. Your strong analytical and problem-solving skills can also be applied in a wide range of other vocations.

Positions of our graduates include:

  • Freelance writer/translator/project coordinator at a translation centre
  • Lecturer at a Dutch university
  • Translator and executive secretary at an embassy in the Netherlands
  • Policy officer for education and funding at a national student union
  • PhD candidate at a university in Spain
  • PhD candidate at Leiden University
  • Policy officer for Sahel region at a ministry
  • Production assistant at a Swedish museum
  • Teacher of English/Islamic religion at an educational institute in Saudi Arabia
  • Middle East representative at a shipping and forwarding company.

Which department am I in?

Faculty of Humanities

Study options

Full Time (2 Years)

Tuition fees
€17,716.00 (14,47,386) per year
Application deadline

Expected April 2023

More details

Start date

Expected September 2022


Leiden University

Rapenburg 70,



2311, Netherlands

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Applicants need a BA or BSc degree (or equivalent) to be admitted to any of Leiden University’s master’s programmes. English-language proficiency: IELTS - 6.0; Toefl (internet based): 80 (component score: 20); Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE), or C1 Advanced (CAE): Cambridge component score of 169.

For international students

  • A copy of a valid passport or ID card
  • A copy of a Dutch residence permit (if applicable)
  • CV (résumé)
  • Language proficiency (if applicable)
  • Copies of diplomas and transcripts
  • Letter of motivation

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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