MA Middle Eastern Studies


10 locations available

Program Description

The Middle Eastern Studies Department at Leiden University is among the largest of its kind in Europe and a leading centre for academic research. The master’s programme in Middle Eastern Studies capitalises on this expertise in every way.

A brand new Arabic wall poem thanks to the celebration of 400 years Arabic in Leiden.

Learn from leading researchers in the field

The Middle Eastern Studies programme can help turn you into an authority on what has been for many years a region of constant political, ethnic and religious upheaval. Learning from renowned, internationally respected academics, you will delve into a wide range of relevant and contemporary topics. These can include the history, cultures and languages of Turkey, Persia and Israel, about Islam and all things Arabic, as well as international relations and the political economy of the Middle East.

  • This is a highly flexible programme that allows you to focus on your own specific area of interest.
  • Leiden University has one of the largest Middle Eastern Studies research and teaching faculties in Europe.
  • The work of our teaching faculty and researchers is widely respected all over the world.

Study at one of our partner institutions

Our partnership network with universities and institutes in the Middle East also gives you the opportunity to study courses at a university abroad, so you can immerse yourself in the language and culture you are studying.


  • Arabic Studies (MA)
  • Islamic Studies (MA)
  • Turkish Studies (MA)
  • Modern Middle East Studies (MA)
  • Persian Studies (MA)
  • Israel Studies (MA)

Admission and Application

We invite motivated students from around the world to apply for the Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies. Admission requirements may vary per specialisation, please visit the specialisation of your interest to find out more about the entry requirements:

Please note: From September 2019 you do not need to select a specialisation, but you apply directly to the MA Middle Eastern Studies.

How did the Arabs manage to maintain an empire based on Islamic principles for three hundred years? Arab expert Petra Sijpesteijn and her team will be examining this question over the coming five years, focusing on the correspondence of ordinary people. The research is being funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant.

Arabic chocolate letter in Dutch shop © Saskia Tielens.

The Persian Empire (539-330 BCE) was the first world empire in history. At its height, it united a territory stretching from present-day India to Libya - and it would take 2,000 years before significantly larger empires emerged in early modern Eurasia. What explains its success? For the very first time, thousands of cuneiform texts will be brought together and incorporated in an online database.

Turkic nomadic rulers established large empires in the Middle East and Asia between the 11th and 14th centuries. Leiden University researchers will explore the link between their political ideology and the production of art and literature, via the cultural heritage of five cities along the Silk Road: Kashgar, Samarkand, Ghazna, Tabriz and Konya

Last updated Aug 2019

About the School

Are you curious, critical and involved in the world around you? At Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands, you can make a valuable contribution to tackling the various national an ... Read More

Are you curious, critical and involved in the world around you? At Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands, you can make a valuable contribution to tackling the various national and international challenges facing modern society. Together with academics and fellow students from all over the world, you will actively address these challenges. We keep an open mind, do not shy away from difficult discussions and allow one another the space to disagree. We expect the same active, open-minded and critical attitude from you. We challenge you to look beyond your own boundaries. Leiden University welcomes anyone who wants to achieve their full potential. Our modest community size in the historical cities of Leiden and The Hague creates a highly personal and committed atmosphere. Together, we map out a learning path that suits you and your ambitions. You will also be encouraged to conduct research in cooperation with eminent and enthusiastic scholars. The knowledge and skills you develop here will benefit you for the rest of your life, regardless of the career path you choose! Read less
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