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Thesis Seminar in Middle East and Islamic Studies (Fall)


Admission Requirements

This course is intended and accessible for students admitted to the MA Middle Eastern Studies only.


Once every two weeks, students who are actually engaged in research and writing for their MA thesis convene in a seminar under the guidance of Dr. Cristiana Strava. The objective of this seminar is to offer the student a platform to present the structure and concept of the MA thesis and to discuss it with the lecturer and their fellow students.

The main issues involved in the construction and writing of a thesis (Defining the scope and topic, formulating the research question and hypothesis, deploying theory and methodology, finding and using sources, building a bibliography, structuring the argument, formulating conclusions) will be dealt with in successive classes. Students will give presentations on one of these topics, linking it to their own project. The lecturer and the rest of the class will provide feedback on each occasion.

In order to help them stay on track with their thesis project, students are given assignments to do at home and in-class.

Course objectives

Students learn

  • how to construct their thesis and how to present orally the results of their research;

  • how to use Powerpoint or Prezi effectively to support the presentation;

  • to participate actively in an academic discussion and to receive and formulate productive feedback and criticism;

  • to meet deadlines.


Students take part in this seminar during one semester, preferably the one in which they are writing their thesis.

See timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

For this seminar bi-weekly attendance and participation is required. Students are required to attend all sessions. The convener need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

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). It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimise overlap between prior and new work.

Students must submit their assignment(s) to the blackboard through turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Assessment and weighing

Active class participation and presentation of the research outline.

The course is graded pass or fail.


It is not possible to make up for a failing grade.


Blackboard will be used for internal communication.

Reading list

Not applicable


Students are required to register through uSis. 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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English. You can also have a look at the FAQ.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.


Dr. Cristiana Strava


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.