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Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research). Students from other Research MA programmes can only be admitted, if there are places left. Please contact the programme coordinator, if you are interested and not a student of one of the two Research MA programmes mentioned above.


Area studies is an approach to knowledge that starts from the study of places in the human world, through the relevant sources languages and with central regard for positionality. It is a dynamic synthesis of area expertise and what are generally known as disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences. Students will engage with the challenges of studying and writing about “other” cultures and societies, especially of scholars in “the West” studying “the non-West.” The regional and disciplinary diversity of the readings and the students’ projects will advance dialogue, exploration, and reflection on where the individual researcher inds themself in the wider landscape of scholarship.

Course objectives

Students will further develop

  • their familiarity with the landscape of the humanities and the social sciences at large, and specifically with area studies as an approach to knowledge

  • the ability to position their field of specialization and their individual research

  • the ability to direct and focus their individual research in meaningful ways

  • academic skills used in all aspects of knowledge production.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the convener. Extra assignments may be set to make up for missed class time, at the convener’s discretion. Absence without notification may result in lower grades or exclusion from assessment components and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Two position papers 20%
Presentation 20%
Team paper 40%
Self-assessment 20%

In order to pass the course, students need a pass mark (“voldoende”, i.e. “5.50” or higher) for their term paper and for the course as a whole.

The research paper is written in two stages: a first version, on which the convener will offer feedback, and a final version. Feedback on the first version is conditional on this being handed in before the deadline. The grade will be determined on the basis of the final version only. (The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is for administrative purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convener.)

All categories of assessment must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Only if the total weighted average is 5.49 or lower and this is the result of a term paper graded 5.49 or lower, a re-sit of the paper is possible (40%). In that case the convener of the course may decide to assign a (new) topic. The deadline for this version will be determined by the course convener, after consultation with the student.
A re-sit for other course components is not possible.

Inspection and feedback

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A list of readings will be provided prior to the course


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof