MES4220 – Topics in Arabic Studies II

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course focuses on one or more select topics in Arabic studies, broadly understood as the study of the Arabic-speaking world, based on Arabic sources. Both cultural, social, religious, and political dimensions may be covered, in their contemporary and/or historical formations. Special attention is given to how these issues are dealt with in textual and/or visual production, by literary or academic authors, intellectuals, journalists, political actors, social media users, etc. This may include literature, media and other forms of cultural expression; religion, philosophy and thought; history and historiography; the formation of ideological paradigms; gender, family and education; etc. The topics offered will often be related to past or ongoing research in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, including master students’ research.

The specific topic of the course will be announced before the semester starts, and the course does not overlap with MES4210 – Topics in Arabic Studies I

The course is based on reading, analysis, and discussion of select primary texts in Arabic and, where appropriate, relevant secondary literature. Training in methodology, essay writing, and oral presentation is an integral part of the course.

In Spring 2018, the topic offered is “Arabic Cultural Production and the Arab Spring

Learning outcome

  • You will learn to find, read, summarize, and interpret primary and secondary sources in Arabic, and to analyse them in the light of pertinent research literature.
  • You will improve your competence in understanding complex Arabic text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialization.
  • Through class presentations and discussions, you will learn to present and debate academic knowledge in oral form.
  • Through teacher-guided essay writing, you will learn to present academic knowledge in written form.


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.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Please see the admission requirements defined by the programme option Middle East Studies.

The teaching presupposes intermediate to upper intermediate competence in modern Arabic.

Recommended previous knowledge


Teaching is organised as 10 classes of 2 hours each throughout the semester. Weekly assignments may be given to prepare for class. Active participation in class is expected.

Obligatory activities

  • submission of at least 80 percent of weekly assignments (if any - see semester page)
  • at least 70 percent attendance in class
  • one or two oral presentations in class (precise number and length will be determined at the beginning of the semester). The oral presentation must be accompanied by a 1-page hand-out. As part of active participation in class, students will be required to comment on each other’s presentations.
  • outline of the term paper and a list of sources

Since the precise topics of the course vary over time, compulsory tuition activities are only valid for one semester.

Guidelines for compulsory tuition activities at the Faculty of Humanities

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.


In order to take the exam, the basic requirements of active participation in class (including teamwork and discussions) and at least 70 percent attendance must be fulfilled. In addition, the student must pass a qualifying assignment (see “Teaching” for more information).

The exam is a term paper of 8-10 pages of main text, each page comprising up to around 2300 characters including spaces (max. 23,000 characters excluding footnotes and list of references), on a subject related to the course and approved by the teacher. The paper must be based mainly on Arabic sources. In order to take the exam, an outline of the term paper and a list of sources must be approved by the teacher within a given deadline, which will be announced in the detailed teaching plan.

The term paper is to be submitted in Inspera within the given deadline.

Information on writing and submitting papers at IKOS

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 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







Teaching language