MES4020 – Field Work in the Middle East

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

The purpose of this course is to train you in the collection, processing, critical assessment and initial analysis of data in preparation for work on your master's thesis. Based on your project description, and under guidance of your supervisor, you will identify and collect different kinds of data. Depending on the topic of research, these may include data from:

  • literary, historical, political or other kinds of texts
  • interviews, participant observation, other kinds of fieldwork
  • online sources, radio and TV programmes, films, etc.

All methodologies of collecting relevant data require a conscious and critical approach. Therefore, an important part of the course implies reflection on the methodology and practices of data collection. 

The course is designed to be taken in conjunction with MES4610 – Voices from the Middle East: How to Communicate Research Results

Learning outcome

  • You will learn how to determine the relevance and validity of different sources through identifying and collecting data for your project
  • Depending on your chosen methodology you will for instance:
    • learn how to communicate in your language of specialization with interviewees
    • learn how to find historical texts through local and/or digital archives
    • learn how to work as a researcher in different cultural or political settings
    • learn how to identify different versions of the same text in an Middle Eastern language


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 only admits students from Asia and Middle East Studies, programme option Middle East Studies. 


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Students must have completed their first year of studies before they can take this course.


Five digital seminars throughout the semester via Zoom. The seminars will serve as a platform to discuss experiences and challenges that the students face when doing field work.

Your primary point of contact will be your academic supervisor, who will assist and guide your data collection and provide individualized advice regarding methodology. You are advised to communicate with your supervisor at least once a month throughout the semester.

In addition to the digital seminars, the course has a Canvas room where you submit your obligatory paper. In the Canvas room you will find both a discussion forum and announcements concerning the course.

Compulsory activity

  • Submission of a 6-10-page field report (draft) explaining your choice of methodologies, the process of data collection, and reflections on the research process. The paper should engage with at least one of the texts on the syllabus.

The draft of the field report must be submitted in Canvas four weeks before the final exam and be approved by your supervisor in order to qualify for the final exam.

Approved compulsory activity is only valid for one semester.

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 activity.

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 that consists of two papers:

  • Field report, revised after comments from your academic supervisor.
  • One of the following options, to be determined after consulting with your supervisor:
    • Translation (into English or a Scandinavian language) of an original text (2-4 pages) within your Middle East language of specialization.
    • Transcription in your language of specialization of 1-3 recorded interviews (depending on length).
    • Translation into English or a Scandinavian language of 1-3 recorded interviews (depending on length).
    • Translation of any kind of sources in your language of specialization, for instance parts of a movie, a TV show, blog discussions, speeches, etc.

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

Grading guidelines

Submit assignments in Inspera

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

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

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. 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

May also be offered in the spring semester if needed.


Every autumn

May also be offered in the spring semester if needed.

Teaching language