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Pre-master Thesis Middle Eastern Studies


Admission requirements

Admission to the pre-master programme Middle Eastern Studies.


Students themselves choose a supervisor for their pre-master dissertation from among the lecturers involved in the BA Midden-Oosten programme. They do this in consultation with the study coordinator. A general introduction to the dissertation writing process is given in the Academic Skills course.
The thesis will be written in English.
The main text of the thesis should be approximately 8,500 words in length. The maximum length including notes, bibliography, and any appendices, is 10,000 words.

Potential supervisors and their fields of expertise

  • Dr. Eldad Ben Aharon specializes in the field of modern Middle East studies and the region's diplomatic history during the Cold War. His research focuses on Israel's foreign policy from 1948 to present and his other main areas of interest are Memory Studies, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Arab Jews, and the theory and practice of Oral History. He welcomes students interested in, among other topics, diplomatic history in the Middle East after 1945, international intervention in war and conflict in the Middle East, memory and commemoration practices of violent past. Ben Aharon also welcomes students who wish to include oral history methodology in their research projects.

  • Dr. Gabrielle van den Berg is ready to supervise MA theses on topics related to Persian classical literature, the history of Iran and Central Asia of the medieval and premodern period (10th-17th century), and topics related to modern Central Asia, in particular Islam in Central Asia and Tajik literature, provided that the thesis is based on literature and source materials in Persian, Tajik, English, French, German, Russian or Dutch.

  • Dr. Petra de Bruijn is ready to supervise MA theses on topics based on literary, theatrical or filmic Turkish source materials. The methodological and theoretical perspective should be primarily within the domain of narrative and culture studies. The thesis is based on literature and source materials in Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, English, French, German or Dutch.

  • Dr. Jelle Bruning has a specialization in: the early history of Islam; social and political history of the Rightly-Guided, Umayyad and Abbasid periods; non-literary (documentary) sources on the history of the medieval Near East, especially written in Arabic, Coptic and Greek. He also has an interest in: Islamic/Arabic literature and historiography; medieval scholarship (especially in the field of medicine) in Arabic; literature of non-Islamic, especially Christian, communities in Arabic; medieval Christian-Muslims relations.

  • Dr. Crystal A. Ennis is ready to supervise students who wish to work on the political economy of the Middle East, the Middle East in International Relations and the Global Political Economy. Students working on the Arabian Peninsula (and GCC in particular), labour markets, migration, resource dependence, investment and trade are especially encouraged to approach Dr. Ennis. With a limited number of supervisory spaces available, students are advised to be in contact sooner rather than later, and send Dr. Ennis their tentative research topic or question along with an abstract.

  • Dr. Mamad Forough’s field of interest are the geopolitical and geo-economic consequences of the China’s New Silk Road initiative and what its implications will be for the connectivity, infrastructure, and energy security of the Middle East and Asia.

  • Dr. Christian Henderson is interested in supervising dissertations on political economy, environment and development in the Middle East and North Africa. He has a country specialism in the Gulf states, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, and would also consider projects that cover contemporary issues in these countries.

  • Dr. Nico Kaptein is prepared to supervise MA research on the institutions and the history of Islam. He has a special interest in the religious relations between the Middle East and Southeast Asia in the past and in the present.

  • Dr. Judith Naeff is specialized in urban imaginaries of Beirut and memory cultures of the Arab left. She is willing to supervise theses in the fields of cultural analysis, urban studies, memory studies, comparative literature and critical theory of the modern and contemporary Middle East.

  • Dr. Tsolin Nalbantian ‘s teaching and research interests include contemporary Middle Eastern history, Nationalism in the Middle East, Identity and Belonging, Minorities and their Relationship to the State, and State and Society in the Greater Levant including Syria and Lebanon. While most familiar with Arabic, Armenian, English and French source materials and literature, interested students can draw from theories, methods, and sources from other languages as well, including Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, German, and Dutch.

  • Dr. Elena Paskaleva focuses on material culture of Central Asia, the history and socio-political importance of Timurid architecture in Uzbekistan.

  • Dr. Noa Schonmann specialises in modern Middle East studies, concentrating on the region's international relations, foreign policy analysis, and diplomatic history. As a historian of international relations she has special research interests in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and in state-society relations under authoritarian regimes. In particular, she welcomes students interested in developing thesis projects that examine inter-state armed conflicts in the modern Middle East through the lens of culture: exploring the usage of linguistic, visual, and material symbols to categorise and represent societal experiences of inter-state conflict; or investigating practices through which the meaning of conflict is collectively produced, communicated, consumed, and challenged from within and outside the region’s societies.

  • Dr. Asghar Seyed-Gohrab is ready to supervise (Res-)MA theses on classical and modern Persian literature, Iranian film, and modern Iranian culture and history, especially the period of the Constitutional Revolution (1905-11) and the Islamic Revolution 1979.

  • Dr. C. Strava is specialised in Anthropology, Morocco, Urban Dynamics, Urban Ethnography and Urban Studies.

  • Dr. Hans Theunissen’s research interests include (Ottoman) Turkish history and culture, and Islamic art and material culture.

  • Dr. Peter Webb is specialised in Classical Arabic history and literature; Arab identity in early Islam; "al-Jahiliyya" and the Muslim reconstruction of pre-Islamic history; pre-Islamic poetry.

  • Dr. Alp Yenen is ready to supervise MA theses on the political history of the modern Middle East. While specialized on the modern history of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, he works on themes of international and transnational history as well as comparative history. His research is informed by theories and approaches in the study of social and political movements, contentious politics, conspiracy theories, and international relations.

Course objectives

Elementary research skills, including heuristic skills

  1. collect and select specialised literature using traditional and electronic methods and techniques;
    1. analyse and evaluate this in terms of quality and reliability;
    2. formulate a well-defined research problem based on this;
    3. set up, under supervision, a study of a limited size taking into consideration the traditional and electronic methods and techniques relevant for the discipline;
    4. formulate a reasoned conclusion on the basis of this;
    5. also make use of the acquired research skills outside the student’s own discipline.

Written presentation skills

  1. explain research findings in a clear and well-argued way;
    1. formulate an answer to questions concerning the discipline or a topic within it
  • in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation

  • in accordance with the criteria set by the discipline

  • using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques

  • aimed at a specific target group.

The pre-Master thesis will be, amongst other elements, assessed on the following elements:

  • Knowledge and insight (contents, relation to the field)

  • Application knowledge and insight (methodology)

  • Reaching conclusions (interpretation, argumentation, conclusion)

  • Communication (writing skills, structure)

  • Learning skills (process)

Mode of instruction

Self-study under the guidance of a supervisor. Student and supervisor have at least four meetings during the writing process.


To be able to start the MA on 1 September, the student needs to hand a first complete version of the BA-thesis on June 1, at the latest (see form regarding appointments), to his supervisor. The final version needs to be in on July 1, at the latest. Regulations and procedures concerning the bacherlor’s thesis.

Blackboard / webpage



No registration in uSis required for the pre-master’s thesis.


Individual supervisor.