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Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 2


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies is required.


This course is designed to introduce students to the theoretical foundations, methodological debates, and methods engaged in Middle East studies. This course has two central aims. The first aim is to encourage students to think about broad questions related to epistemology, ontology and methodology in relation to the design of their own thesis projects in particular, and research on the Middle East more broadly. The second aim is to train students in the research design process. In addition to preparing them for their own research, the research methods course exposes students to methodological debates and approaches in order to help them develop the ability to critically assess academic work. Crucially, the course encourages students to engage and confront the methodological challenges which arise in a multidisciplinary context and think constructively on the historical evolution and trajectory of research on the Middle East.

Course objectives

Graduates of the programme will have attained the following learning outcomes:

  • Understand epistemological, ontological, and methodological divides and issues in research on the Middle East;

  • Write and present clear research questions and summaries;

  • Learn how to design an effective and feasible research project that contributes to studies on the Middle East;

  • Understand epistemological, ontological, and methodological divides and issues in research on the Middle East;

  • Recognize appropriate methods for diverse research projects;

  • Utilise ontological and methodological debates in critiquing research on the Middle East.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances). 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. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Engagement (e.g. active, informed participation) 10%:
Research Question Presentation 20%
Research Project Presentation 30%
Final Paper 40%

Late submissions of the final version will result in a deduction of paper grades as follows: 1-24 hrs late = -0.5; 24-48 hrs late = -1.0; 48-72 hrs late = -1.5; 72-96 hrs late = -2.0. Late papers will not be accepted more than four days after the deadline, including weekends and will be graded with 1.0.

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

(The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is a fictional date for administration purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convenor of the course.)


Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower) and the insufficient grade is the result of an insufficient paper, a resit of the final paper is possible (40%). In that case the convener of the course will assign a (new) topic and give a new deadline.
The student will not be permitted to resubmit the same final assignment.

A resit of the other partial assessments is not possible.

Exam review

Students can review their papers and the method of marking. How and when a review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results (in Brightspace) at the latest

Reading list


  1. Edward Said. Orientalism. 1977.
  2. Zachary Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East, Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2010
  3. Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods 4th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012
  4. Other course readings are available in electronic format through the library catalogue or online.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.