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Arab World Studies - MSc


Course Description

This MSc Programme is specifically focused to provide research training simultaneously with Arabic language training. It is designed to include all the pertinent requirements of the one-year research-training masters degree (the ‘1' of the ‘1+3' model) as set out in the ESRC Postgraduate Training Guidelines. All the research training or subject-specific modules are taught at Durham and are components of ESRC recognised research training masters at Durham. On completion of the programme, it is anticipated that students will have fulfilled the requirements of a normal ESRC research training masters, as well as having attained their language proficiency.

Students will need to negotiate their particular optional choices and pathways in discussion with the Programme Director, Professor Ehteshami. Students share a common generic methodologies and Arabic skills base, but have freedom to develop particular strength in fields of their choice.

Student Profiles

"This 2-year Masters programme focuses primarily on Arabic language training and social science research methods, and is therefore ideal for students wishing to turn their interest in the region into a career in academia, political risk, consultancy, or other similar fields. Having had minimal experience in foreign language learning before the programme, I have been impressed by the Arabic lessons here at Durham and I benefited enormously from attending Arabic school in Jordan during the Summer. I have also been impressed by the course’s emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and the department’s willingness to allow me freedom to choose modules outside of the provisional curriculum. Having taken rewarding modules across five separate departments, I have managed to study according to my own interests. Upon finishing this course, I will be starting an interdisciplinary PhD looking at poverty alleviation in Jordan." Martin Price, 2015/16

"The MSc Arab World Studies is an academic-oriented and well-structured taught programme in Durham University where probably represents the highest level of the Middle Eastern Studies in Britain. It provides the training in research methods, professional and specific regional research of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Arabic language, which I personally think is the best part of this programme. Within the two years’ time together with a remarkable ten weeks placement in an Arab nation, I’ve worked hard to learn this language which I’ve never touched before. And at the final part of my PG life, I find myself a trilingual person. This not only has given me a fresh and deep perspective to understand the Arab World, but also may benefit my career a lot in the future. Sometimes the study can be tough and intensive, but for me, it is never boring to challenge myself!” Hongxi Xu, 2015/16

"Learning Arabic with the Arab World Studies programme has been extremely beneficial, complementing learning about the Middle East very well. It has certainly brought an additional exposure to understanding the Middle East, particularly as the programme sends students on a study period abroad to the region. Studying Arabic is certainly a challenging task but very rewarding, as is this interdisciplinary masters as a whole.” Sarah Grand-Clement, 2014/15

Course Content

The MSc in Arab world Studies is intended to provide rigorous, research-driven, interdisciplinary, masters-level education and training. It is committed to providing a supportive learning environment that seeks to combine critical and practical reasoning so as to attain the following aims:
-The programme is designed to establish a cadre of exceptional researchers, qualified at the Masters level, with skills and knowledge sufficient for the conduct of research in and on the Arab World.
-To recruit students of high calibre who have not previously completed any substantive research training and who have few or no Arabic language skills.
-To provide generic training in research methods and methodologies to provide a foundation in a broad range of social science research methods as well as basic research and transferable skills that all students in the social sciences require as deemed appropriate for ESRC recognition.
-To provide subject-specific training in research methods and methodologies in Politics, relevant also to International Relations and International Studies.
-To provide language instruction in the Arabic language, such that the student develops appropriate and sufficient competence to utilise the language in their subsequent research, or employment in the Arabic-speaking world.
-To develop the knowledge, skills and understanding which will prepare students to undertake research for a doctoral degree in Politics, International Relations or International Studies, and which may be required of a professional researcher in these fields of the social sciences.
-To develop the student's knowledge of the range of existing disciplinary, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research on the Arab World.

Course Structure
Year 1
-Core modules to the value of 70 credits
-Optional modules to the value of 30 credits

Year 2
-Core modules to the value of 40 credits
-Optional modules to the value of 75 credits, plus
-Dissertation 60 credits

Core Modules
-Arabic Language 1B
-Perspectives on Social Research
-The Contemporary Politics of the Middle East
-Arabic Language 2B
-Dissertation

Optional Modules - Optional modules in previous years have included:
-Statistical Exploration and Reasoning
-Quantitative Methods in Social Science
-Applied Statistics
-Qualitative Methods in Social Science
-Fieldwork and Interpretation
-International Relations and Security in the Middle East
-The Political Economy of Development in the Middle East
-America and the World: The Making of US Foreign Policy
-Contemporary Socio-Political Issues in Muslim Religious Thought

Learning and Teaching

At the beginning of the academic year, students go through five-day induction events in which they are informed about University, the School, the MA/MSc programmes and the facilities available for their learning.

This MSc programme is spread across two-years. In the first year 100 credits is divided into three core and one/two optional modules and then in the second year 175 credits is divided into one core and five optional modules. Furthermore, students have to submit a dissertation of 60 credits of not more than 12,000 words. Most of the modules are delivered during the first two terms and students spend the remaining time to write the dissertation.

Usually a module has 18 contact hours spread over 9 weeks and 132 hours of self-directed learning. The modules are mainly delivered through weekly 2 hours sessions which can either take the form of seminars or one hour of lecture and one hour of tutorial. The form in which seminars are conducted can differ from one module to another. Typically modules would have elements of lectures, discussions, and presentations from students—the extent of each of these components would differ from one module to another.

All modules have written exercise for formative assessments. Upon getting feedback on these assignments, students can meet their lecturers to discuss their marks before then eventually completing a summative assessment. Typically summative assessments are 3000 word essays but some modules may be assessed by examination. Students can also meet their module coordinators during their weekly contact hours or by making an appointment. When students are working on their dissertations during the later half of the year, they meet their assigned supervisors for a minimum of 6 hours. Students also have access to the academic advisors whenever there is a need.

SGIA has a wide variety of resources available to students such as: computer room/work room with networked PC’s, printing facilities including scanner and photocopier, audio system, Wi-Fi and a relaxation area with satellite television system.

SGIA conducts weekly seminars and organises lectures and conferences which all postgraduate students can attend. These events provide students the opportunity to engage with, and debate, the most important issues in current political and international studies.

Towards the end of the programme students can contact the Careers Office of the University to get advice on available job prospects and get assistance on applying for these.

Visit the Arab World Studies - MSc page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A 2:1 or First at BA level of the international equivalent.

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