Universiteit Leiden

nl en


When deciding what to study you undoubtedly read a lot of information about your study programme. Leiden University employs various systems to provide information about programmes and courses and to facilitate communication between lecturers and students.

The Prospectus contains information about all the courses within your study programme. Here you can find all you need to know about your programme. Via the online learning environment Brightspace you can communicate with your lecturers and submit assignments.

What is "Area Studies"?

The concept of ‘Area Studies’ is deeply contested, making it a singularly self-reflective field, seriously concerned with questions of the politics of knowledge. In particular, the field requires of scholars the ability to articulate the politically charged relationships between knowledge and place, or between knowledge and power. In one manifestation, this problematic demands of scholars and students a sensitivity to the relationship between scholarly method and the location of the objects/subjects of inquiry – i.e. a consciousness of the cultural, historical and even geographical contingency of (mainstream) disciplines and methodologies. Hence, the field of Area Studies is both multi-disciplinary (in so far as it draws on a range of different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences) and inter-disciplinary (in so far as it constantly tests the boundaries and parameters of the academic mainstream in Euro-American universities), as well as implicitly and explicitly comparative in nature. Hence, ‘Area Studies’ is not defined negatively as a space of inquiry into the ‘Non-West,’ but rather as an approach to knowledge that demands these reflexive sensitivities about the enterprise and practice of scholarship in/about any area in the world. In practice, within the Leiden Institute of Area Studies (LIAS) , the empirical data is drawn from studies of Asia and the Middle East (indeed, the research master’s is a creative and unique collaboration between these sub-fields). However, Area Studies is not restricted to these areas, and scholars working on Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and even Europe or North America should be considered as part of this the field as well.

Master students in both Asian and Middle Eastern Studies will be required to develop advanced 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. Hence, the research masters provide core training in the Area Studies approach to knowledge, opportunities for the development of disciplinary skills (politics, history, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.), and also possibilities to build upon regional and language specialisation (Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.). Many students will need to understand the parameters of these disciplines and the ways in which they may be creatively combined into novel and complex forms of inter-disciplinarity, suitable to their subject matter. In terms of knowledge of specific areas, students will be required to develop in-depth knowledge of at least one of the regions currently represented in LIAS (Asia – East Asia, South or Southeast Asia – or the Middle East) and/or a transregional/comparative perspective that tracks particular themes through their relationship with ‘areas’.

The programme in schedule

Year I  

Semester I,

Fall, 30 ec

Common Core Course: Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research

(10 ec)

Core elective course

(10 EC)

Elective course

(10 EC)

Outline a research idea and articulate an initial research question

Semester II,

Spring, 30 ec

Common Core Course: Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities or Research School Course(s)

(10 ec)

Core elective course

10 EC

Elective course

10 EC

Write your research proposal
Research Preparation Module
Year II  

Semester III,

Fall, 30 ec

(Core) Elective Course (≤ 10 ec)

Research your thesis

(≥ 20 ec)

Semester IV,

Spring, 30 ec

Write your thesis (30 EC)

- This includes the thesis seminar and the thesis defense

(30 ec)


See the Prospectus for more information about the study programme.


The faculty involved in teaching in the Research Master Area Studies are, in general, members of LIAS' School of Asian Studies and School of Middle Eastern Studies. Participation in the programme varies every year depending on the research agendas of the faculty.

This website uses cookies.