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Culture: Middle East


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


Culture is constituted by a set of practices, such as conversation and rituals, and a set of objects, such as narratives and images, and is the primary vehicle through which people give meaning to their selves, their lives and their societies. This course introduces students to the cultural diversity of the contemporary Middle East by engaging with an eclectic selection of objects, texts and practices from multiple methodological angles. Rather than an historical or geographical overview, this provides an orientation for the pursuit of the students’ own interests in Middle Eastern cultural practices.
The course teaches students to closely analyze cultural objects, by considering aspects of their form and content in relation to their social, political and economic context of production, circulation and reception. In addition, students are taught to take a critical stance towards their research objects as well as their own research practice. A number of key thematic, critical and methodological approaches will be offered as possible frameworks for such analyses, such as heritage studies, sociolinguistics, gender- and urban studies.
The course is divided into three main themes: Modernities, Identities and Conflict. While these are all interrelated, the themes serve to structure the material of the course and also function as core themes around which each tutorial group revolves.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students are expected

  • To have a sense of the diversity of cultures in the Middle East.

  • To be able to independently navigate through, and familiarize themselves with, a geographically, historically and/or thematically limited realm of cultural objects or practices.

  • To understand and be able to apply a number of key concepts and theories of cultural studies and sociolinguistics to specific case studies in the Middle East, and to relate them to their socio-political context.

  • To improve academic writing and presentation skills and develop critical thinking and solid argumentation building.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; tri-weekly tutorials.

Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Atending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs

  • Atending attending tutorials 2 hours per three weeks: 8 hrs

  • Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 68 hrs

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 36 hrs

Assessment method


Midterm Exam:

  • Written examination with short open questions

Final exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions


Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Required readings

No handbook. Required readings will be provided if not accessible online.

Suggested readings

Next to the required readings, a small list of ‘suggested readings’ will be handed out in the context of the tutorials. These are titles relevant to the themes discussed in the lectures. They are optional and meant for those students who want to deepen their knowledge about a specific theme and/or wish to write about a specific case for the tutorial assignments or for their final BA thesis next year. The suggested readings concern key texts in the field, which are vital for an academic ‘status quaestionis’ or ‘literature review,’ or they offer the possibility for expanding the geographical focus and exploring different case studies.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For tutorials
Dr. J.A. Naeff