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


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other (regular MA) programmes are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


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.

The deadline in MyTimetable is set for administrative purposes only. The actual date(s) will be communicated by the lecturer(s) in Brightspace.

Mode of instruction


Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to 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 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. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

Academic integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.

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

ChatGPT: What is possible and what is allowed? Dos and Don'ts.

Assessment and weighing

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

Students must complete the assignment(s) on time Late submissions will result in a deduction of marks for the assignment as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Submissions more than 96 hs late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade of 1,0 for the assignment.

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, they must get a passing mark for their weekly assignments, plus their final paper needs to be marked at 5.50 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.


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

Inspection and feedback

Feedback will be supplied primarily through Brightspace. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the assessment results, a review will be organized.

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.

For the Research MA students additional readings will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be used to discuss the additional literature.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.


  • 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.