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Gaining research experience

Gaining research experience is an essential part of any academic study programme. There are various ways in which you can gain research experience.

You can, for example, undertake a research internship with a company or institution, or carry out research on behalf of Leiden University. Talk to your  Study Adviser about the options available within your programme.

Research and Fieldwork Abroad

Students may undertake reseach or fieldwork abroad as a part of a research project, thesis, etc. This is generally organized by the student his or herself, or as a part of an existing research project. Although this activity does not directly lead to credit transfer, due to the resulting academic product and associated credit, research or field work must still be approved and registered prior to departure.


Students are responsible for all costs associated with the fieldwork or research, such as food and accommodation, transportation, etc, and should plan accordingly.

Students may be eligible to apply for scholarships through Leiden University.

Negative Travel Advisories

Students should review the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advisories prior to pursuing a specific research/fieldwork location. Students will not be given approval or awarded Leiden University credit for work/research undertaken in a country with a negative travel advisory, or for an academic product resulting from such work/research. These destinations are also not eligible for Leiden University scholarships. There are no exceptions to this policy.

If a travel advisory changes to negative after a student has been approved for research abroad, either before or during the stay abroad, students are required to follow Leiden University's instructions regarding next steps. Please review Leiden University's study abroad regulations for further information.

A negative travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes areas where the advice is "Niet Reizen" ("Avoid all travel") as well as "Alleen noodzakelijke reizen" ("Avoid Non-essential travel"). These are represented by the colors red and orange on the Ministry's website.

If you are unsure of the implications of the travel advisory listed on the Ministry's website, contact the Humanities International Office before taking any further steps. You can find the contact information on the topright of this page.

Application Process

In order to be eligible for credit transfer or credit for academic work stemming from the research/fieldwork abroad, and for eligibility to submit a scholarship application, students must first undertake the following steps:

  1. Discuss your plans with your Study Coordinator in order to ensure that your proposed programme fits in your Leiden study plan, and to be aware of any potential issues, study delays, or other concerns.
  2. Submit an online application to the Humanities International Office for pre-approval of your proposed destination. Students who have not completed this step and received pre-approval will not be considered by the board of examiners for transfer of credit or credit for academic work stemming from the research/fieldwork abroad (this could include, for example, a master's thesis based on research abroad). The purpose of this application is (1) to inform the Faculty of your plans and register your personal information, and (2) to submit your proposed destination for approval based on the travel advisory provided by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Once you have completed steps 1 and 2, and have received approval from the International Office for your plans, you can proceed with the arrangements for your fieldwork.

After Admission

Once you have finalized your plans to go abroad, there are several steps you must take with Leiden University:

  1. Course approval from the board of examiners
  2. Register your travel itinerary with the Humanities International Office prior to departure.
  3. Register your in-country contact information after arrival at your destination.

Leiden University Study Abroad Regulations

The steps listed above are to ensure that students are eligible to apply for credit for academic work/internships abroad and for scholarships for their proposed study destinations. They are based on compliance with Leiden University's study abroad regulations.

Fieldwork in Middle Eastern Studies (research)

The aim of the fieldwork for the student is to gather data which can be used for the research project resulting in the thesis of the student.

Important remark

Students should be aware that Leiden University will not allow students to do fieldwork in areas colored red and orange (meaning "no travelling allowed"  and "only necessary travelling allowed", respectively) by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The website of the Ministry gives further details (in Dutch). For further questions, contact the director of studies, Dr. Nicole A.N.M. van Os.

The student is responsible for arranging the fieldwork him/herself in agreement with his/her supervisor. During the fieldwork the student should report on the progress of the fieldwork to his/her supervisor at least every 3 weeks unless otherwise agreed upon with the supervisor. 

Prior to the fieldwork the student will write a fieldwork proposal of 5 to 10 pages. This proposal should be discussed with the Leiden supervisor(s) and (if applicable) the local supervisor, after which it needs to be forwarded to the Board of Examiners for approval prior to the start of the fieldwork. A copy of the proposal also needs to be handed in to the Student Advisor, Ms. Nicole A.N.M. van Os

The proposal should consist of:

  • filled out standard cover sheet 
  • research question; objectives of the fieldwork
  • operationalisation of major concepts
  • outline of the field: location and (where applicable) population
  • outline of the planned activities
  • relevance of the fieldwork to the student's programme and thesis
  • outline of the method of data gathering (and analysis)
  • time line and budgeting

The fieldwork should be conducted during the third semester of the research master programme. For students going in the Fall semester, the proposal should be submitted to the Board of Examiners by 1 June, for students going in them Spring semester, the proposal should be submitted to the Board of Examiners by 1 December. 

Students should under no condition leave without the approval of the Board of Examiners. If they do so, they may risk not getting any credits for their fieldwork.

The Faculty of Humanities offers a scholarship for students of various research MA programmes who wish to either study or conduct (field) research abroad: The Uhlenbeck scholarship programme.

Students may apply for additional (partial) funding of their fieldwork through, for example, LUF or LUSTRA or can search for other grants through the grantfinder of EP-Nuffic.

After his/her return the student hands in a fieldwork report. The report should consist of the following elements:

  • a description of the field and the research undertaken.
  • an answer to the research question posed in the fieldwork proposal
  • an evaluation by the student of the value of the fieldwork, problems encountered, a reflection on the fieldwork, etc.

The fieldwork report is an official examination and therefore needs to be written in English. It should be approximately 15 pages (excluding bibliography and/or appendices) and handed in to the Leiden supervisor(s). The student will be graded by his supervisor based on the fieldwork (the 3-weekly reports) and this final report.

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