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

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The aim of the course is to prepare students for their master-thesis. The course has three integrated parts: Project description, method and theory.

Project description means that the participants design their own project proposals. This implies to formulate a problem formulation and research hypothesis, a separate theoretical and/or analytical approach, a methodological plan and a timeline. 

Method means that students learn about the basic methodological approaches within area studies and the humanistic sciences. This include discourse analysis, historical methods, fieldwork methods, linguistic methods and literature studies methods.

Theory in this context means to learn what theory means within different scientific disciplines, and the relation between theory, methodology and interpretation in the humanistic sciences.

Learning outcome

The participants will learn:

  • How to conduct research on and in the Middle East and South Asia.
  • How to make a project description. This includes formulating a research hypothesis and making this operational, designing a methodological scheme, and to apply theory.
  • The main qualitative methods within humanistic science and areas studies. This include discourse analysis, historical methods, fieldwork methods, linguistic methods and literature studies methods.
  • Philosophical aspects of knowledge production (epistemology) and the relation between methodology, theory, and interpretation.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

This course is not available for single course students.

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.


Teaching will be of 20 lectures/seminars. The students are expected to participate actively with presentations and contributions during the seminars.

Five separate modules will be taught on methodology: discourse analysis, historical methodology, field work methods, linguistic methodology, and literature study’s methodology. The discourse analysis module is compulsory for all participants. In addition, everyone should choose two of the other modules. Information about the modules and how to register for them will be given in the first class. 

In October there will be a 2-day seminar outside campus. More information will be given in the teaching.

Compulsory activities 

  • Presentation of a draft of the project description at a seminar at the end of the semester.
  • Comment on other student’s project descriptions.
  • A 2-day seminar out of campus.
  • Compulsory E-learning course in the protection of personal data (GDPR). The course will be delivered via Canvas.

Valid absence

If you have valid absence from the compulsory activity, 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 exam is a portfolio containing the project description as the main paper and in addition three shorter submissions on method.

The project description in the form of a semester thesis should be submitted by the end of the semester. It should contain a title, a project hypothesis, a presentation of methodology, and an elaboration on the theoretical and empirical framework of the project.

The project description should be about 8-10 pages (2300 characters per page, including spaces, line 1.5), not including references and front page. The references should not contain less than 500 pages. The references should be to relevant regional studies and theoretical and methodological sources.

Additionally, there should be three submissions on the method modules. The length of these should be 3-5 pages (details will be provided for each module).

You must fulfill the requirement of the compulsory activities in order to qualify for taking the exam.


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.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language