Graduate School of Social Sciences

Master's Contemporary Asian Studies

Degree programme
MSc Contemporary Asian Studies
Regular study programme
60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction
Starts in
CROHO code

Contemporary Asian Studies is an innovative programme with a broad, interdisciplinary character and a comparative approach to the study of Asia, as a key driver of local and global changes. During the programme you will focus on all the main regions of Asia, stressing the importance of looking at interconnections both within the vast Asian region and between Asian societies and other parts of the world.

Academic research on Asian societies is becoming increasingly important, in terms of its theoretical and practical relevance. How can we approach, in a rigorous academic manner, the many important issues that dominate today's news, whether they be China's and India's economic transformation, Indonesia's deforestation, high- and low-skilled migration flows, social inequality, political and social movements, or the global reach of Asian companies and the spread of Asian popular culture? The crucial importance of Asia for advancing and enriching contemporary theories and debates on transnationalism, citizenship, resource conflicts, development, land grab, economic restructuration, mobility and many other issues is engaged and demonstrated throughout the programme.


The main objective of the programme is to meet a growing demand for social scientific knowledge and expertise in different areas concerning Asian societies and Asia related issues elsewhere. Therefore, this programme consists of courses that focus on contemporary themes as well as on specific regions of Asia.

Field research 

The Master's in Contemporary Asian Studies offers you the opportunity to design and conduct an independent field research in Asia or elsewhere, leading to the Master’s thesis. It is also possible to conduct field research in the context of current research projects by the programme's staff.

In 2015, the programme starts with a pilot for an academic professional track. Students that follow this track conduct research during an internship at a (non) governmental organisation, (government) institution, agency or business. For inquiries on particulars of this pilot, please contact the programme director.

Student profile

The Master's programme in Contemporary Asian Studies offers an intensive and comprehensive curriculum. It is important to have a strong academic background, be highly motivated and invest considerable time in your studies. You are expected to develop the ability to work independently as well as in a mixed group of Dutch and international students. This interactive approach will enable you to enrich your learning process and cross-cultural communication skills.


The programme is designed to ensure that you advance your knowledge on Asian societies, develop analytical competencies, gain experience in conducting practical research in Asia, and learn to communicate your findings and arguments in a clear, measured and convincing manner. 

Focus on research

The lecturers in the Contemporary Asian Studies are all active researchers, who bring knowledge on the latest developments in the field of Asian studies to the programme (see Staff page). The core staff in the programme are leading cutting-edge research projects on different themes in Asia. Insights from these research projects are integrated into the courses in the programme, and students also enjoy the opportunity to conduct their own field-research in collaboration with these research projects.

Special Asia Updates, seminars on trends and hot issues in Asia today, are part of the curriculum. Guest lecturers (e.g. academics, entrepreneurs, publicists and  filmmakers) present their findings from current or recent (field) research and/or experience. 

Ambition in a research career? 

For students interested in this field of study, we also offer a two-year Research Master’s programme in Social Sciences focussed on the development of a PhD proposal.

Degree certificate

Upon successful completion of Contemporary Asian Studies, students receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Contemporary Asian Studies. 

Published by  GSSS

Graduate School of Social Sciences