Contemporary Iranian Studies 2020

Contemporary Iranian Studies 2020 picture

Course Description

Iran as a civilization is one of the oldest and richest in the world, and modern Iran bears the memory of that rich and glorious heritage. As this country continues to play a more active role in both regional and global cultural and political arenas, the inherent advantage of cultivating a deeper understanding of Iran becomes increasingly apparent.

Organized by the Open Education Department at the University of Religions and Denominations (URD), the Iranian Studies Intensive Course provides an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary platform for the study of modern Iranian culture, politics, and society. It seeks to deliver an academically and professionally enriching experience and offer a unique academic program for those who wish an intimate, insider's look at modern Iran.

The Iranian Studies Intensive Course is a well-balanced mixture of 1) academic lectures by outstanding professors, 2) handpicked social programs, and 3) cultural tours guided by experts of the filed. The academic lectures give you plenty of opportunity to better understand contemporary Iran. The social programs give you the chance to take part in reflective events and activities to taste real life experiences in Iran. And the guided tours of Iran let you truly immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere that Iran has to offer.

The main purpose is to allow those interested from abroad to explore Iran, to be directly in touch with their subject of interest, to learn about Iran from a multidisciplinary academic approach and to gain a first-hand experience of living in Iran like a local.

Our Uniqueness

Many universities offer courses related to the study of Iran throughout the world, however, a true understanding of Iran can only be gained through an interdisciplinary academic approach coupled with first-hand experience.

University of Religions and Denominations (URD) in the heart of religious capital of Iran provides the ideal opportunity to gain a comprehensive and insightful understanding of Iran. The Faculty of Open Education at URD is the only faculty in Iran that offers Intensive Courses of Iranian Studies exclusively to and specifically for international participants. We welcome both applicants wishing to attain a formal academic certificate or enthusiasts wishing to have a real-life experience of today Iran.

We provide a unique experience of living in Iran. Participants learn about Iran from an insider perspective in the form of academic knowledge taught by Iranian lecturers, and at the same time gain direct access to their field of study by living amongst its friendly people, exploring its historic and cultural sights, and discovering its social and cultural atmosphere. Our program offers a unique first-hand and in-depth academic experience that extends beyond the politicized perspective offered by some overseas institutions.

Course Structure

The Iranian Studies Intensive Course is a well-balanced mixture of
1) academic lectures by outstanding professors as well as 
2) handpicked social programs and 
3) cultural tours guided by experts of the filed.


Academic Lectures

These lectures are designed to provide participants with the foundational knowledge, and critical thinking required to understand contemporary Iran in terms of culture, politics, art, history, religion, etc. The goal is to not simply provide an outline of the subjects, but to continuously put these various topics into conversation.

The core course is team taught, which gives participants the unique opportunity to work with several professors and scholars. It provides hours of specialized lectures to be followed by Q & A sessions and free discussion in dialogical space. Lectures will be presented both on and off campus by professors affiliated to top universities of Iran. On-site lectures will be offered throughout the program as well, which is among the distinctive features of our program.

Social Programs

In Social Programs we are taking you to those local secrets that can’t be Googled. With our handpicked social activities, you can taste real life experiences you won’t find in a search engine. It would be the moment you find yourself in the middle of a black tent of Iranian nomads, spending an unforgettable night sleeping in desert, being treated to a home-cooked meal in evening family, meeting with Grand Ayatollahs of Hawza or sharing joy with thousands of Iranians in Iranian Festival. These unexpected moments are what giving you an experience like no other.

Iran Tour

Follow in pilgrims’ footsteps and explore the history of old Persia and the spirit of the new Iran. You will have the expert advice of leading scholars guiding you each step of the Iran Tour, deciphering the complex world of this rich culture with you. Our itineraries are specifically crafted to include the best of Iran tour. They’re not simply about getting from point A to point B, or ‘seeing the sights. What we offer is the local knowledge and experience to help you get behind the scenes of a culture and understand what makes that destination tick. These are unique and authentic insights into local life in Iran.


Iran Studies Intensive Course is recognized and accredited by the University of Religions and Denominations. A formal certificate will be awarded to each participant upon successful completion of the program.


Our itinerary offers you a balance of inclusions and free time, a mix of academic lectures, classic highlights and local secrets, and of course, an authentic real-life experience.
* A detailed itinerary will be available soon.

Application Process


Important Dates

  • Registration begins: 1st November 2019

  • Early registration deadline: 30th November, 2019

  • Final registration deadline: 30th December, 2019

  • Course begins: 4th March 2020

  • Course ends: 14th March 2020


The Iranian Studies Intensive Course is open to professors, scholars, and students from all around the world who want to explore Iran through an academic lens. Others who are engaged in activism in these fields or encounters with Persianate world and who wish to sharpen their insights will also find this intensive course very helpful. Professionals working in Muslim contexts, in education, government, NGOs and even corporations will also benefit from the program. Individuals from a wide range of academic and/or professional interests are welcome to apply.

Application Steps

  1. Download and fill out the application form.

  2. Email us the completed form along with your passport copy, personal photo & CV via

  3. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance at the latest, 7 days after their application.

  4. Once you are admitted, you will be required to provide weather a deposit of refundable €70 (50 Eruo is part of and deductible from the course fees and €20 is for visa arrangements) or a copy of your purchased flight ticket to Iran which will count as your final acceptance.

  5. As soon as we receive the deposit or flight ticket, we start your visa application process if you prefer us to take care of the visa affairs.

  6. Full payment will be received at your arrival in Iran in cash. We are regrettably unable to offer credit card payment service for course fees. 


  • Once you are admitted, if you need to apply for funds and need a letter of admittance or any other letter, please let us know by email:

  • In case of cancellation, deposit payments (with the exception of €20 non-refundable) will be refunded if cancellation occurs 20 days or more before the course begins.

  • If you plan on requesting funding from a foundation or an academic institution and need additional time to process payment, please let us know.


The course fee includes registration fee, course materials, accommodation, meals, transport, airport transfers (pick-up and drop-off), site entrance, travel insurance and all expenses relating to the social programs and trips.

Standard and Special Rates


  Standard Fee   

  Early Birds  



  11-Day All Inclusive 

  1270 Euro 

1100 Euro

970 Euro

970 Euro

* MoU: Participants from Uni/ Institutes we have a memorandum of understanding in between.
** Single room is available with an additional €22 per night


  • Accommodation (10 nights): Twin share room in 4/3-star hotel or traditional house.

  • Single room is also available with an additional €22 per night.

  • Transport (11 days): Private Transport, Bus, Plane.

  • Meals (11 days): All meals and refreshments.

  • Airport transfers: Pick-up and drop-off.

  • Travel insurance

  • Academic lectures

  • Social programs

  • Guided tour: Tehran, Qom, Isfahan, Shiraz

  • Site entrance


We sincerely regret our inability to offer full scholarship or subsidize travel costs. We do not receive any funds from private nor public institutions and, thus, we fully depend on the participants’ tuition to be able to do the program. 

Nevertheless, we are passionate about education and do our best for individuals to fulfil their potential. We are providing several partial financial aids available for applicants who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to attend.

While we cannot guarantee to cover all applications, we are working on partial sponsorships and we would like to hear from you if the financial issue would be a big concern for your enrollment to the program. Please contact us for more information.


To secure your place at the Iranian Studies Intensive Course, you will be required to provide a €70 deposit or a copy of your purchased flight or travel tickets. You will then be required to pay the full amount of the course fee in cash at your arrival in Iran. Please note that we do not have the facilities to accept credit cards or money orders.

Visa Process

The University of Religions and Denominations provides visa sponsorship for all confirmed applicants. As in every other country, visa process is subject to background checks by related authorities. The visa approval process can take up to 3 weeks after applicants are notified of their successful application. However, if you are travelling on UK, USA or CANADIAN passport, please be aware that your visa process takes longer (up to 2 months) due to government regulations.

Steps in Detail

  1. Upon the registration you will be required to email us 1) a color scan of your passport; and 2) a recently-taken color passport photo. Once your registration is confirmed, we submit your documents to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Tehran.

  2. The MFA will issue your visa authorization code that will be transmitted to the Iranian consulate/ embassy which you have indicated in your application form. If you are opting to collect your visa on arrival please select ‘Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport IKA” in the form.

  3. Once your visa code approved, we will send you a ‘Visa Grant Notice’ letter Issued by the MFA. Your Visa Grant Notice includes your authorization code, a barcode, and your passport photo. This letter is only valid to the mentioned consulate. However, you may request us to forward it to another consulate in case of emergency.

  4. By having the Visa Grant Notice, you will be able to collect your visa within 30 days and before the code expires. You will need to provide:

    1. Your passport (which must be valid for the next 6 months);

    2. Your Visa Grant Notice;

    3. 2 recently-taken color passport photo;

    4. A completed visa application form (which can be picked from the consulate or be downloaded from their website);

    5. Visa fee (which depends on your nationality)

    6. Insurance policy.

  5. Always check the needed documents with the consulate, as there may be differences from one consulate to another. You may also be able to send the documents and receive the visa by mail. Contact the consulate for more details.

  6. Let us know the feedback. Inform us if the visa collection process was straight forward or you faced problems. If there is any problem, we will remain with you for solving it until you receive the visa.

Alternative Options

By choosing the alternative options for getting visa you will have still our support for invitation letter or hotel reservation voucher if needed. Feel free to contact us for any questions, assistance or needed services.

Tourist visa

According to the regulations of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Tourist visa is issued for foreign nationals who are interested to travel to Iran individually or with a group for the purpose of visiting Iran, or their friends and relatives. Depending to your nationality and the consulate which you refer, it is possible to submit your documents and receive a visa after some days without any reference from Iran.

This visa is issued for a maximum stay of 30 days with option of extensions in Iran. The visa remains valid for a period of 3 months from the date of issue and you may ask for a visa extension from the Police Dep. of Foreign Affairs when you are in any Iranian major city.

Iran Visa on Arrival

Many travelers are now opting to collect their visa on arrival. This is a relatively simple process and can eliminate addition time and expense required lodging your visa with your nominated Embassy.

Iran visa on arrival (VOA) refers to a special class of tourist visa which you can apply for and be granted at the major Iran’s gates of entry like international airports of Tehran (IKA), Mashhad and Kish. Most but not all nationals of all countries can apply and are likely to get that visa without much of hassle.  Iran visa on arrival usually has a 30 days’ validity.



We endeavor to provide travelers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.


Iran’s charm begins with its stunning environment – snow-capped mountains, rolling deserts, ancient cities and crowded bazaars all add to an unforgettable tapestry of a culture less experienced. However, the heart of this charm truly lies in the palate – within the odorous spices, succulent meats and mouth-watering stews created through thousands of years of perfected techniques. You’ll find the best of Iranian foods scheduled in our program.


Iranian souvenirs are artisanal handicrafts unique to each city and made with lots of love. While walking through the bazaars is a feast for the eyes, it can become overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. You have our help to buy the best souvenirs from Iran to bring a part of this unforgettable country back home with you.


We believe half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, we use local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

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