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Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 3


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies, the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or the MA International Relations, specialisation International Studies is required. Students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies have priority. Students from the other MA programmes can only be admitted if there are places left. Please, contact the student advisor or the instructor if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of one of the above-mentioned MA programmes


During the past two centuries scholars in different parts of the world have produced a huge body of knowledge on Middle Eastern and Muslim societies, both historical and contemporary. The present seminar introduces students to key issues and concepts of this scholarly tradition and encourages them to engage critically with these, as has become the practice during the last forty years. This critical review should enable students to contribute productively to this body of knowledge themselves.

Each meeting will be devoted to a specific issue, on which key texts will be read. The last meetings will offer students the opportunity to present a first draft their own papers on one of the issues related to their own research interests. A detailed programme and list of readings will be made available on Blackboard.

Students should hand in “reading notes” as a preparation for the weekly discussion every week.

Course objectives

  • To develop the skills and insights that are necessary to evaluate existing research and to design and carry out empirical research projects;

  • To obtain familiarity with the theories developed in the humanities and social sciences and their application in the study of the Middle East and Islam;

  • To understand the merits and drawbacks of these theories both in general and in specific cases;

  • To develop and carry out a small research project on a well-defined topic;

  • To report on research findings orally and in writing, in accordance with the basic standards of scholarship.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the conveners and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final paper and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load: 280 h
13 × 3 h= 39 h of lectures
10 × 10 h= 100 h of reading
10 × 1 h= 10 h of preparation of the weekly assignments
40 h of preparing the oral presentation of the first draft of the paper
91 h of preparing the final draft of the paper

Assessment method

  • Active participant in the seminar on a weekly basis

  • Handing in of reading notes on a weekly basis

  • Oral presentation of the readings

  • Oral presentation with power point presentation of the first draft of the paper

  • Final paper

The final mark is established by determing the weighed average:

  • Mark for participation (40%)

  • Mark for oral presentation of first draft (20%)

  • Mark for final paper (40 %)

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. Students receiving an overall grade of 5.49 (=5) or lower, will be allowed to rewrite their final paper (40%).



Reading list

A list of readings will be made available through Blackboard


Students of the MA program Middle Eastern Studies are required to register through uSis before January 15. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Other students are requested to send an email to the study co-ordinator including their name, student ID number, course title and prospectus or catalog number. Depending on the availability of places, the study co-ordinator will register these students after January 15. By February 1 at the latest the student will be able to see in uSis whether (s)he is registered or not.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Studeren à la carte nor Contractonderwijs is possible for this course.


Dhr. prof. dr. L.P.H.M. Buskens


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).