Hollanda Araştırma Enstitüsü  -  Nederlands Instituut in Turkije

BA Semester: Turkish Studies in Istanbul

NIT offers a semester of Turkish studies in Istanbul for undergraduate students.

NIT offers an undergraduate level semester abroad for students of Turkish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. This semester provides you with a unique possibility to gain first-hand knowledge about Turkey, its language, people and cultures while living in the bustling metropolis of Istanbul, the cultural and economic center of the country.

In the semester, you follow Turkish language courses as well as courses on the culture and society in Turkey, on the metropolis of Istanbul in the 20th and 21st century, and on Turkey’s changing place in the region and the world. All courses are taught at the Netherlands Institute in Turkey, by specialists in their academic fields.

For whom?

The semester is primarily intended for students enrolled in Middle Eastern Studies (Faculty of Humanities) at Leiden University. If you are a second-year BA student in this program, you are eligible to come to Istanbul. Please get in touch with the student advisor of your program to ask about prerequisites. 

If you are a student from another faculty or university and interested in this semester, please contact us directly (below) to check the possibilities.

Program setup and course calendar

Courses offered in the spring of 2020

The NIT offers four courses which add up to 30 EC during the semester. The courses are taught by accomplished instructors who have been affiliated with prestigious universities in Istanbul.

Turkish language acquisition (15 EC)

The NIT provides different levels of Turkish classes designed according to the students’ language levels. The courses aim at developing the students’ comprehension, writing, and speaking skills in addition to improving their cultural understanding.

Turkey in the World: International relations and regional affairs (5 EC)

This course will critically look at Turkey’s changing role in the region. The main objective is to let students acquire thorough knowledge on stability and change in the relationship between Turkey and the EU, MENA and the Balkan regions within a political historical context. Attention will be given to contemporary trends in regional affairs, but also to complexities of the past.

Istanbul in the 20th and 21st century (5 EC)

This course investigates the history and development of Turkey through the lens of its biggest metropolis. Istanbul was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires under different names and has for centuries been the historical, political, cultural and economic heart in the region. To this day Istanbul continues to be the economic and cultural center of Turkey, despite losing its status as the capital city to Ankara. The course deals with topics of urbanization, industrialization, population dynamics, minorities, migration, heritage, urban renewal, and gentrification.

Society and Culture in Contemporary Turkey (5 EC)

This course will explore different aspects of the process of social and cultural change in Turkey since the formation of the nation-state. Weekly meetings will be devoted lectures and discussions on issues such as modernization, Westernization, national identity, citizenship, ethnic and religious minorities, gender and secularism in Turkey.


During the course weeks of the semester, you have about 15 hours of instruction per week. Additionally, you will have homework, assignments, and projects to work on individually and with your fellow students. Approximately once a week, there will be city excursions, visits to theatres and exhibitions and other NIT activities to join outside class hours. Halfway during the semester, there is a three-day excursion to one or two other cities in Turkey.
The language of instruction is English. Turkish language classes are offered at several levels, from near beginner to heritage speaker. At the start of the semester, the most appropriate level for each student will be assessed.


The outline of the academic calendar for 2020 is as follows:

February 3: Introduction to the NIT, language assessment and first day of classes
February 3 to March 20: course week 1 to 7 (mid-term exams in week 7)
March 23 to March 27: mid-term break, excursion
March 30 to May 22: course week 8 to 15 (final exams in week 15)
June: deadline for written assignments, grading, submission of grades



If you are thinking about taking your semester abroad in Istanbul, please fill out the following form.

We realize that you may have to wait for the results of your exams and resits of the first semester before you know for certain that you can come to Istanbul. Nevertheless, whether you already have or are still waiting for permission, we recommend that you send us the NIT registration form as soon as possible.

The institute

The institute is located in the central district of Beyoğlu, on the main pedestrian street Istiklal Caddesi. This is a lively neighborhood, with many shops, restaurants, nightlife and other things to do. The institute is housed in a building of Koç University, and makes use of this university’s classrooms and other facilities for the semester. The institute has a well-equipped library with study places. The staff of the institute is always available for assistance regarding your stay in Istanbul

Life in Istanbul: Housing, money, travel, free time

You may find convenient housing close to the NIT through Airbnb in the neighborhoods of Galata, Asmalımescit, and Çukurcuma which are at a walking distance to the institute. These are housing options in the form of shared apartments that are furnished and the rent includes utilities like electricity, gas, water, and internet. You may find a shared flat (furnished and including utilities) for a monthly rent around 250-350 euros. In addition to rent, you may be expected to spend around 150 euros per month.
There are many student-friendly restaurants and several supermarkets in Beyoğlu. The city has a well-extended public transportation system consisting of the metro, public buses, metrobus, and the ferry. Istanbulkart is a smart card for fare payment on any of these public transport options. The card costs 6 TL (~1 euro). The fare for one pass is 2.60 TL. As for recreation, there are many pubs, concert halls, museums, and art galleries in Beyoğlu and close-by districts such as Kadıköy and Beşiktaş. Besides, Beyoğlu is twenty minutes with public transportation to the historical peninsula that hosts the Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Grand Bazaar.
During the semester, the NIT team will organize extra-curricular activities such as city walks, visits to museums, and excursions to other cities for familiarizing the students with the social and cultural life of Turkey and its past.


Residence permit

If you don’t have Turkish citizenship, you can get a Turkish visa with a duration of 90 days online via the link. This costs generally 25 euros. Since the semester lasts more than 90 days, you will need to apply for a residence permit after your arrival.
We advise you to make the online application within a month after your arrival in Istanbul. The NIT team will assist you throughout the application process. Please make sure that you have a valid passport until at least six months after you plan to leave Turkey. After the online application, you will be given an appointment date that is usually in two weeks to a month time. You are expected to submit several documents during the appointment. You are advised to contact the NIT staff before your arrival (see contact information below) to find out the most up to date information.

Health insurance

Before your arrival in Turkey, please make sure that your health insurance includes coverage in Turkey. You should also enquire whether all hospitals are included and how the insurance company wants you to proceed in case you visit a doctor or hospital. The NIT cannot take responsibility for medical expenses during your stay in Istanbul.

Get in touch

For all your questions about the semester, about the academics and the practicalities, please get in touch with semester coordinator Dr. Ülker Sözen at u.sozen@nit-istanbul.org.
For information about university prerequisites and permissions, as well as about financial support options offered by Leiden University, please contact your student advisor at the university.