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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. Students from other MA programmes can only be admitted if there are places left. Contact the student advisor, if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of the above-mentioned MA programme.


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.



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.

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours 280 hours
Attending seminars 30 hours
Reading / studying material 125 hours
Completing assignments 125 hours

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

Partial Assessment Weighing
Engagement: 40%:
Participation 10%
Research Question Workshop 10%
Method Selection Workshop 20%
Short Reaction Papers 20%
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 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 BB) 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.


Students can not register themselves in uSis. Students will be registered after the obligatory introductory meeting on Friday September 6, 9:15-10:00 hrs in VRIESH4/008A.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S.P. Englert


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.