Modern Middle East Studies

The Modern Middle East Studies master’s specialisation at Leiden University focuses on the Middle East and North African regions from the nineteenth century to the present, taking into account the historical and global context of this strategic and important area.

You will cover the theoretical debates in the field, such as colonialism, Orientalism and Occidentalism. The programme offers specialised interdisciplinary courses on the interaction between literature and politics and the Middle East’s relationship with Europe. You can also explore the impact of modernity and globalization on the region and the position of religious minorities in the Middle East. Key issues and themes of Modern Middle East Studies include the impact of the Islamic Revolution (1979) in Iran on the region and its links to the past; the call for democratic reform in the Arab Spring and its resonance in the wider Muslim world; the role of oil in local and world politics; and the secular movement in Turkey and its repercussions for regional politics.

This programme stands out because of its multidisciplinary perspective and broad geographical range, covering the Arab, Iranian and Turkish cultural and political worlds, but also including Islam in the west, south-east Asia and Africa.

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

Check out the programme in Modern Middle East Studies

Master details

  • This is a specialisation of: Middle Eastern Studies
  • Degree Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Duration 1 year
  • Start date September, February
  • Language of instruction English
  • Location Leiden
  • Croho/isat code 60842

A word from student Ivan

Ivan Gospodinov

Studying Middle Eastern Studies in Leiden lived up to the hype and high expectations that I had beforehand.

I managed to gain not only valuable knowledge but also experience from the large pool of world renowned academics as well as one of the most thorough and rich libraries in the world.

Working with old manuscripts
The value that the professors provide does not simply stem from their knowledge and expertise in the intricate world of Middle Eastern politics, culture and history, but students also have the added benefit of meeting and interacting with an international team that allows for a very complex and diverse viewpoint on almost every topic. As a student, I was also able to benefit from the rich library of the university, which contains not only the latest and most renowned sources of information, but I also had the great experience of seeing and learning how to work with some of the oldest manuscripts in the world.

All aspects of student life
On top of all the academic benefits that the University provides, Leiden is one of the most picturesque and beautiful towns in the Netherlands. You are able to enjoy all spectrums of student life, from university organised activities, sightseeing, having fun with your fellow students and even having a cup of coffee or tea in a small café next to one of the beautiful canals whilst enjoying the view of the classic old Dutch windmill.

Editor of international affairs
I am very happy to say that my academic background as a Master’s student at Leiden University was one of the main reasons I was chosen for an internship as an editor in one of the fastest growing and innovative news outlets in the Netherlands – Zapaday. The internship began during my second semester and as of this writing I am a full-time employee holding the position of “editor of international affairs” with a focus on the developments in the MENA region and I am delighted to say that the knowledge I gained is already being put to use on a daily basis.

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