MØNA2506 – Mass Media in the Middle East

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course will explore the role of mass media in the Middle East and their impact on society and cultural debates. The course is designed to assist students in understanding the evolving mass communication media in the Middle East, with an emphasis on Arabic language media. It draws on existing scholarship in the field of history, literature, social sciences, popular culture and visual cultures, and it privileges a historical and cultural approach. Indeed, the implementation of digital media, that has attracted much academic attention in the last decade, will be studied as the last development of a longer media history that dates back to the 9th century. We will start with the transition from oral to script culture that took place in the Abbasid period and its effect on knowledge production; we will proceed with analysing the spread of print technologies after several centuries of a flourishing manuscript culture in the 19th century; the emergence of audio-visual media (radio, TV, film) in the 20th century; we will conclude with the emergence of Internet technology in the 21st century.

Students will be exposed to and engage in discussions about various media theories, issues, forms and practices. A broad range of topics will be covered including the history and development of the Arab press, the role played by radio and television in the national-building process, the relationship between cinema and literature, the rise of satellite television and the Al-Jazeera phenomenon, and the advent of digital media. Media will be analysed in relation to the rise of specific genres, such as cultural journalism, soap operas, reality shows, autofictional blogs and YouTube comedies. Special attention will be paid to the role that media has played in the momentous changes which shook the region, such as the 1919 revolution in Egypt and the Arab Spring uprising. Equally of interest is the relationship between media and language, questions of access and gender, and how media practitioners deal with censorship and authoritarian regimes.

The teaching will be focused on Arabic language media, but alternative readings may be arranged for students interested in Persian or Turkish-language media.

Learning outcome

After having followed this course, you will have:

  • learned about important media issues and trends in the Middle East
  • evaluated the role media play in Middle Eastern culture and politics, in relation to specific historical events
  • familiarized yourself with a growing and diverse body of literature and scholarship and a variety of approaches to studying Arab media
  • read, watched and analysed examples of media content from the Arabic mediascape in Arabic or in translation
  • addressed open questions related to the mass media and Middle East, such as questions of access, gender, censorship, cultural and political change. 


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.


Recommended previous knowledge

A good knowledge of English is recommended, and a knowledge of a Middle Eastern language is preferred, but not mandatory.

Overlapping courses

The student is responsible for making sure that the course content does not overlap with other courses the student has already received credit for.


Lectures and seminars.

The teaching is divided into lectures and seminars. There will be group presentations during the seminars. Class attendance is not mandatory but highly recommended.

Compulsory tuition activity

  • Three individually written assignments
  • One presentation to be held in class

Each assignment will be provided with commentaries after the first submission, in order for the student to improve it. The students will have time to edit all three papers, and the final version of these will represent the final portfolio.

Each class will include student presentations by 2-4 students who act as discussion leaders. Presentations will be assigned during Class 1 and 2. They will commence in Class 2.

More information about the three assignments, the presentation and the deadlines will be given during class and in Canvas. You must submit the assignments 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 valid absence from compulsory activities.

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.


Portfolio assignment.

The portfolio assignment is the final version of the three mandatory individually written assignments.

You must fulfill the requirements of mandatory tuition activities in order to qualify for taking the exam.

Previous exam questions and criterias of assessment

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 and Norwegian, and you may submit your response in English, Norwegian or another Scandinavian language.

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






Tilbys ikke H20.


Tilbys ikke H20.

Teaching language