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Theory and Issues in Area Studies


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or the MA Asian Studies (research).


This course is about theories and issues central to the field of area studies, conceived as an approach to knowledge. Students will examine key writings on the challenges of studying and writing about “other” cultures and societies, especially of scholars in “the West” representing “the non-West”. They will explore major theories and conceptualizations which have grown out of the debate. The broad regional and disciplinary scope both of the seminar and the participating students aims to stimulate cross-disciplinary dialogue and will allow students to acquaint themselves with approaches and geographic and national contexts beyond their own specialization.

Course objectives

Besides the objectives given under Description above, the course aims at sharpening students’ critical thinking and encouraging self-reflection about the theoretical challenges and opportunities of their field of study. Students are encouraged to develop and present their own points of view in class discussion, through web-postings, in weekly summaries and critiques of readings, in position papers, and in their research paper, which they will present orally in class.



Mode of instruction


Weekly attendance and participation is required. Classes missed for a valid reason (at the discretion of the convener and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) must be made up with an extra assignment. Students who miss more than two classes for whatever reason will automatically fail the course.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 280 hours.
Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 39 hours.
Approximate time for studying the compulsory literature: 100 hours
Approximate time for researching and writing the web-postings, position papers, and final research paper: 141 hours

Assessment method

  • Weekly critiques, presentations, active participation (40% of overall mark)

  • Two position papers of 800–1200 words each (30% of overall mark)

  • A research paper of 4000–5000 words: (30% of overall mark)

In order to pass the course, students should obtain a pass mark (“voldoende”, i.e. the mark “5.50” or higher) for the research paper and the course as a whole.

The final paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version. (The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is a fictional date for administration purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convenor of the course.)

All three categories of assessment must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Blackboard plays a crucial role in this course and registration for the course in Blackboard is imperative. All relevant information, including the syllabus, course requirements, announcements, and other communications, will be made available through Blackboard. All student assignments must be submitted through Blackboard.

Reading list

To be announced.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.


Prof.dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe