nl en

The Power of Words: Discourse and Society in the Middle East


Admission requirements

Admission to (one of) the programme(s) listed under Part of in the information bar on the right.
If you are interested in taking this course, but NOT a student of (one of) the listed programme(s), please contact the Education Coordinator.


How is power expressed and maintained through spoken and written word? This MA course offers a hands-on introduction to the analysis of political discourse, with a focus on the Middle East. The course consists of three parts. In the first part, students become acquainted with discourse theory. The work by theorists such as Foucault, Gramsci and Fairclough will be introduced, but the main focus lies on reading and discussing the concise and accessible introduction to discourse analysis written by Dunn and Neumann (2016). In the second part of the course students are trained to conduct their own discourse analysis for a project of their choice but relevant to the Middle East. In five sessions we discuss research question options, the collection of sources, the process of coding, analysing discourse and writing up. In the final part of the course, students give an oral presentation about their project. Subsequently, they write a paper in which they answer their research question. For the final paper students make use of the readings from part one to support and write up the discourse analysis they conducted in part two.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete this course have given evidence of:

  • A good understanding of the concepts of power and discourse and the relationship between these two

  • Familiarity with the main thinkers in and aspects of discourse theory

  • The ability to conduct a preliminary discourse analysis as part of a concise research project

  • The abililty to report on their research project in a convincing way, both verbally and in written word


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Class participation 20%
Weekly assignments Pass/Fail
Presentation and peer feedback 30%
Final paper 50%


The final paper can be resat (50%). A resit of the other partial assessments is not possible.

Reading list

Dunn, Kevin C ; Neumann, Iver B, 2016. Undertaking Discourse Analysis for Social Research. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. Available through the digital library.
Additional readings t.b.a.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory for:

  • MA Middle Eastern Studies students: the number of places is limited and the principle is first come, first served. Priority is given to students who started with the MA programme in 2023-2024.

  • MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) students who opt for the Research MA version of the course. The number of places is limited and the principle is first come, first served.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Students from the other MA programmes listed under Part of in the information bar on the right, need to contact their study adviser for information on the enrolment procedure. After admission they will be registered by the Education Administration Office Vrieshof.


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

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


Please note that the additional course information is an integral part of this course description.