MES4000 – Theory, Methodology and Project Description in Middle East- and South Asia Studies

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

How should a research project on the Middle East or South Asia be designed? What are the main methods used to collect empirical data, and what are the basic theoretical perspectives that should be known? The aim of this course is for participants to learn basic theoretical approaches and methodology, and apply these in their own research by developing their own project description.
Participants will be allocated a research contact by the start of the semester, who will be their mentor throughout the whole course.

Learning outcome

This course is divided into three parts.

During the first part participants will learn:

  • Key theoretical perspectives used to explain various phenomena in Middle East studies or South Asia studies.
  • Characteristics of areas studies in general, and the specifics of Middle East and South Asia area studies, including key debates and discourses.
  • The relation between methodology, theory, explanation and interpretation.
  • What is a good project design? Relevant studies will be analyzed according to strengths and weaknesses.

During the second part participants will learn:

  • Basic methodological approaches in separate modules
  • Participants will practice these methodologies through practical lessons related to given research projects.

    During the third part participants will learn:

    • To design their own project description:
      • Problem formulation and project hypothesis.
      • Planning data collection and presenting their methodological approach.
      • Presenting an overview of relevant background literature.
      • Discussing ethical aspects of the study.
    • To apply theoretical and methodological knowledge from the first and second parts.
    • To present their draft project descriptions in class.
    • To discuss and constructively critique other MA project proposals.


    This course is only available for students enrolled in the programme Asia and Middle East studies, programme option Middle East Studies and South Asian Culture and Society.


    Autumn 2020: Teaching will follow the guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19.

    A detailed plan for the semester will show which activities will be digital, and this will be updated by the beginning of August.

    There will not be a requirement for compulsory attendance for teaching which is done digitally, but we strongly recommend that you follow all the teaching.

    Note: There will be a compulsory intensive writing workshop in week 42. More information to come.

    In the first part of the course, students are required to attend and participate in a biweekly seminar on theories and methods in Middle Eastern and South Asian studies. 

    You are to choose two of the following modules when signing up for this course:

    *    Historical methodology
    *    Field work methods
    *    Linguistic methodology
    *    Literature studies methodology

    Submission of assignments during the semester is mandatory.

    Attendance and active participation in class is required and mandatory. Writing assignments will often reflect what is discussed in class.

    Please see the semester page and Canvas for detailed information on each submission, You must submit the papers within the given deadlines, and you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the requirements for the compulsory activities.

    Valid absence

    If you have valid absence from the compulsory activities, you must submit an application and hand in documentation. 

    This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance 

    Access to teaching

    A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


    The submissions for each part of the course must be approved by the teachers in order to qualify for the final exam Please see "Teaching" and the semester page. More information will be given during class and in Canvas. 

    The exam for this course is a portfolio submission at the end of the semester.

    Grading guidelines Fall 2019 

    Grading guidelines Fall 2018

    Submit assignments in Inspera

    You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

    Use of sources and citation

    You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

    Language of examination

    The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

    Grading scale

    Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

    Explanations and appeals

    Resit an examination

    Withdrawal from an examination

    It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

    Special examination arrangements

    Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


    The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

    Autumn 2015

    Autumn 2016

    Facts about this course






    Every autumn


    Every autumn

    Teaching language