nl en

Theory and Methods 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 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.


Thursdays 10:00-13:00

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.

Assessment method

  • Weekly summaries and critiques, active participation, web-postings, presentation: 40%

  • Two position papers (800-1200 words): 30%

  • Research paper (4000-5000 words): 30%

In order to pass the course as a whole, students should obtain a pass mark (“voldoende”, i.e. the mark “6” or higher) for each of these three categories.

All three categories 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. All relevant information, including the syllabus, course requirements, announcements, and other communications, will be made available through Blackboard. Al student assignments must be submitted through Blackboard.

Reading list

To be announced.



Contact information

Prof.dr. B. Arps