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Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or the MA Asian Studies (research). Students of other, relevant research master’s programmes may be admitted, but need to contact the student advisor, Dr. Nicole van Os, prior to registration (see below for more information on registration).


Area studies is an approach to knowledge that starts from the study of places in the human world, through the relevant sources languages and with central regard for positionality. It is a dynamic synthesis of area expertise and what are generally known as disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences. Students will engage with the challenges of studying and writing about “other” cultures and societies, especially of scholars in “the West” studying “the non-West.” The regional and disciplinary diversity of the readings and the students’ projects will advance dialogue, exploration, and reflection on where the individual researcher comes from, and where s/he is going.

Course objectives

Students will further develop

  • their familiarity with the landscape of the humanities and the social sciences at large, and specifically with area studies as an approach to knowledge

  • the ability to position their field of specialization and their individual research

  • the ability to direct and focus their individual research in meaningful ways

  • academic skills used in all aspects of knowledge production.


See timetable of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or the timetable of the MA Asian Studies (research).

Mode of instruction


Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the convener. Extra assignments may be set to make up for missed class time, at the convener’s discretion. Absence without notification may result in lower grades or exclusion from assessment components and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total Course Load 10 EC x 28 hours 280 hours
Attendance 26 hours
Preparation for class 104 hours
Two position papers x 20 hours 40 hours
Oral presentation 20 hours
Research paper 90 hours

Assessment method

Academic Integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Contributions to in-class discussion 20%
Oral presentation 20%
Two position papers of 800–1,200 words each 30%
A research paper of 3,000–4,000 words 30%

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

The research paper is written in two stages: a first version, on which the convener will offer feedback, and a final version. Feedback on the first version is conditional on this being handed in before the deadline. The grade will be determined on the basis of the final version only. (The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is for administrative purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convenor.)

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


Only if the total weighted average is 5.49 or lower and this is the result of a paper graded 5.49 or lower, a re-sit of the paper is possible (30%). In that case the convenor of the course may decide to assign a (new) topic. The deadline for this version will be determined by the course convenor, after consultation with the student.
A re-sit for other course components is not possible.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.


Blackboard: 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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration à la carte or contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Prof.dr. M. van Crevel


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.