Your first year of South and Southeast Asian Studies

As a student of South and Southeast Asian Studies, you will have a full working week of 40 hours. Of these you will spend, on average, around 14 hours in lectures (or tutorials or exams), and the remainder on independent study.

Lectures and tutorials

At introductory level the teaching takes place mostly in the form of lectures (Dutch: hoorcolleges), in which a lecturer explains a particular topic to students who make notes and ask questions. The lectures are complemented, especially later in the programme, by tutorials (Dutch: werkcolleges) in which the material is discussed in greater depth and with more active input from students, often in the form of solo or group presentations. Many courses require you to submit written assignments.


In your first year you will follow core courses designed to give you a basic understanding of the history, cultures, and modern societies of South and Southeast Asia. In addition, you will also follow elective courses of your own choosing.

Your most important choice will be between the four available languages, Hindi, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Indonesian, the study of one of which will make up one third of your study programme in both Year 1 and Year 2. In your first year you will also choose between introductory courses on three major religions of the region, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.

Subjects Credits
Premodern History of South and Southeast Asia 5
Histories of Modern South and Southeast Asia 5
Nation, Community, Self: Questions of Culture in South and Southeast Asia 5
State, Politics and Economy in Modern South and Southeast Asia 5
Religion course (Choose 1 out of 3: Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism) 5
The Languages of South and Southeast Asia: History, Context and Structure 5
Language Course (Choose 1 out of 4: Hindi, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Indonesian language) 20
Classical Cultures of South and Southeast Asia: Seminar 1 5
Area Studies (from the Humanities Faculty Core Curriculum 5
Mentorship -

For the timetable and further information about the courses, see the e-prospectus.


Your performance in each course will be assessed according to varying combinations of examinations (written or oral), written papers, and grades for presentations and for participation in classroom discussions. For each course you pass, you will be awarded a number of credits. One credit is nominally equivalent to 28 hours of study. One full-time year of studies is equivalent to 60 credits.

Online facilities

Many study-related activities at Leiden University are organised online. Students are required to register for lecutres, tutorials, papers and exams via the university’s online administration system, uSis. This system will also show your personal information, grades, and timetable. Another electronic medium used by all students is Blackboard, Leiden University’s digital learning environment. Lecturers and tutors use this web-based tool to support their lectures and tutorials.
Read further: ULCN and Blackboard

Valerie Krul

Did the programme meet your expectations?
At the start, I found the programme overwhelming. South and Southeast Asia is an enormous region with many different cultures, so I wondered how you can cover them all in one programme. But now I know that the countries in South and Southeast Asia all experienced the same development and that they also influenced one another. This makes it logical to study not just Indonesia or India, but also the surrounding countries.