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Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 3


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies. Please, contact the student advisor or the course convener, if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of the above-mentioned MA programme.


During the past two centuries scholars in different parts of the world have produced a huge body of knowledge on Middle Eastern and Muslim societies, both historical and contemporary. The present seminar will introduce students to key issues and concepts of this scholarly tradition and encourage them to engage critically with these, as has become the practice during the last forty years. This critical review should enable students to contribute productively to this body of knowledge themselves.

Each meeting will be devoted to a specific issue, on which key texts will be read. The last meetings will offer students the opportunity to present a first draft their own papers on one of the issues related to their own research interests. A detailed programme and list of readings will be made available on Blackboard.

Students will have to hand in “response papers” as a preparation for the weekly discussion every week.

Course objectives

  • To develop the skills and insights that are necessary to evaluate existing research and to design and carry out empirical research projects;

  • To obtain familiarity with the theories developed in the humanities and social sciences and their application in the study of the Middle East and Islam;

  • To understand the merits and drawbacks of these theories both in general and in specific cases;

  • To develop and carry out a small research project on a well-defined topic;

  • To report on research findings orally and in writing, in accordance with the basic standards of scholarship.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. This is a class based on collaborative dialogue. As such, being prepared to participate in discussions is a course requirement. This entails having read, annotated, and thought about the weekly themes carefully before class starts. Furthermore, you must bring your copy of the text to class every week – in either paper or pdf form. Since we will be engaged in closely examining the texts we read and the language that they use, if you don’t have your text then you are not prepared for class, even if you have read the assignment .
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 and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load: 280 h
13 × 3 h= 39 h of seminars
10 × 10 h= 100 h of reading
10 × 1 h= 10 h of preparation of the weekly assignments
40 h of preparing the oral presentation of the first draft of the paper
91 h of preparing the final draft of the paper

Assessment method


  • Active participation in the seminar on a weekly basis

  • Handing in of reading notes on a weekly basis

  • Oral presentation of the readings

  • Final paper


The final mark is established in the following way :

  • Mark for engagement (ongoing) (40%):

  • Active participation in weekly class discussions (20%)

  • Weekly response papers (20%)

  • Mark for oral presentation of readings (20%)

  • Mark for final paper (40 %)


There is no resit for the presentation and attendance and participation components.
The final paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.

(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.)

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.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam/paper results, an exam/paper review will be organized.



Reading list

A list of readings will be made available through Blackboard


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 “Act.nbr.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Studeren à la carte nor Contractonderwijs is possible for this course.


Dr. C. 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.

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).