Thirty credits of graduate study are required for the degree. The core curriculum consists of two 3-credit courses required for all MA students: MES 73000 - Approaches to the Study of the Middle East, which introduces students to methods and sources for studying the Middle East and MES 73000 - History of the Modern Middle East. To complete the program (remaining 3 credits), each student must either write a Thesis under the direction of an Advisor (enrolling in MES 79700 - Independent Study) or take MES 79001 – Capstone Seminar.
MES 71000 - Approaches to the Study of the Middle East (3 credits) This course introduces students to major themes in the field of modern Middle East Studies in a range of disciplines, including anthropology, art history, comparative literature, economics, history, political science, and sociology. The purpose of the course is to outline the making of the field, with emphasis on the material used to study the region, and to examine the wide-ranging trends that have informed scholars and students alike. This course seeks to broaden students’ perspectives beyond their discipline and/or their country of specialization, and to acquaint them with the sources, methods, and debates that make up the field of Middle East Studies.
MES 72000: Middle Eastern Anthropology (3 credits)
This survey course introduces students to the main themes and issues in Anthropological scholarship on the Middle East. Students will be exposed to the central theoretical and conceptual debates as well as methodology (ethnography, interviews, archives, etc.).
MES 72900 - Topics in Middle Eastern Anthropology (3 credits)
This course will focus on specific topics in the Anthropology of Middle East, including media, the arts, food, diaspora, political-economy, oil in the Persian Gulf, religion, the law, and gender and sexuality. Central issues and theoretical debates pertaining to the topic will be discussed.
MES 73000 - History of the Modern Middle East (3 credits)
This course introduces students to major developments and problems in the history and historiography of the Middle East since the nineteenth century, seeking to foster critical historical thinking about these issues. Topics and themes to be discussed throughout the course include integration into the world economy; bureaucratic reforms and their effects; transformations in the power and roles of states; the workings and impacts of colonialism; class formation and the expansion of public spheres; politics and cultures of nationalism; modernity/modernities; sectarianism and sectarian violence; the origins and dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict; oil and international relations; Islamist politics; and the study of women and gender in modern Middle Eastern history.
MES 73500 - Topics in Ottoman History (3 credits)
This topics course covers the Ottoman Empire from its rise to its fall or focuses on a single century (e.g., the long nineteenth century), a region within in the Ottoman world (e.g., Anatolia and Arab Lands) or particular issue such as the military endeavors and role/legacy of the military in state/empire building and imperial identity; politico-administrative evolution and roles of the elites; relations of center (Istanbul) with periphery (Anatolia, the Balkans, the Arab Lands); economic development (regional/empire-wide and within the world economy); social transformation and cultural developments; rise of nationalism and communitarian relations; imperialism and religion; notions of success and notion of decline and the Ottoman legacy.
MES 73900 - Topics in Middle Eastern/Islamic History (3 credits)
In this course, students investigate the main currents and critical events in Middle Eastern/Islamic history. These include the categorical framing of the region in political and cultural thought; political, economic, social and ideological change; state and economic formation; interactions with outside forces, their international consequences and significance. Emphasis in class meetings is placed on published primary documents in translation and the preparation of an analytical research paper synthesizing current scholarly literature.
MES 74000 - Politics of the Middle East (3 credits)
This course provides graduate students with an introduction to the contemporary politics of the Middle East region, taken to comprise the Arab states of the Fertile Crescent and Persian Gulf, Iran, and Israel, with a particular focus on the region’s international relations. Rather than attempt to comprehensively cover all the issues in Middle East politics in one semester, it focuses on a few of the most important issues—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Islamism, the Iranian Revolution, and the challenges of political democratization and economic development.
MES 74500 - The Arab-Israeli Conflict (3 credits)
This course provides students with an in-depth analysis of the history, politics, and diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli conflict. By examining the origins of the conflict, its development over time, the key events that have shaped it, and the various actors involved, students will gain a greater appreciation for the complexities and dynamism of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The course covers the conflict from the emergence of Zionism and Arab-Palestinian nationalism up to the present day. Although the course examines the entire Arab-Israeli conflict, particular emphasis will be given to the Israeli-Palestinian dimension of the conflict.
MES 74900 - Topics in Middle Eastern Politics (3 credits)
This course will focus on specific topics or regions in Middle Eastern Politics, for example, Human Rights in Comparative Perspective or North Africa or the Persian Gulf. The course could also focus on specific issues.
MES 75000 - Sociology of the Middle East (3 credits)
This survey course introduces students to the main themes and issues of sociological scholarship on the Middle East, including the social structure of various countries in the region; political economy, modernization and development; forms of social stratification, such as class, race and gender, the status of minority and marginal populations, such as women and ethnic and religious minorities; and forms of social solidarity and cohesion, such as familial and tribal relations. The course exposes the students to the central theoretical and conceptual debates as well as quantitative and qualitative methodology.
MES 75900 - Topics in Middle Eastern Sociology (3 credits)
This course focuses on specific topics in the Sociology of Middle East such as migration and diaspora, ethnic-religious groups, gender and sexuality, social theory and Islam or a country or a sub-region (e.g., North Africa or the Gulf). The course utilizes different social theories to tackle central issues in the topic and allow students to study pertinent current debates and issues (e.g., the Arab Spring).
MES 76001 and MES 76002 - Advanced Arabic (3 credits with permission of instructor)
This course aims to help students achieve an advanced level of proficiency in reading, writing and speaking Arabic. The course is conducted entirely in Arabic, students read modern Arabic texts with the help of the dictionary. Learning goals include: Comprehending media in Modern Standard Arabic (e.g., al-Jazeera); writing short letters and somewhat complex essays; and conversing with a native speaker about daily needs.
MES 76500 - Arabic Text Readings (3 credits with permission of instructor)
This course prepares students to read and comprehend Arabic printed texts from the 19th and 20th centuries on a variety of topics. In addition to translating texts, students are guided to contextualize the readings in the social and historical period and region. Students will read archival and contemporary documents in Arabic.
MES 76900 - Topics in Arabic Literature and Culture (3 credits)
This topics course examines the literary culture of a particular period and region such as the literature of medieval Iberian Peninsula and North Africa or contemporary Arab novels in translation or Arab cinema. For a course on Al-Andalus, for example, students read and discuss important examples of Arabic, Hebrew, and Latinate literary culture and examine their interactions. For Arab Cinema, students examine the relationship between the development of cinema in Egypt and elsewhere and the region's colonial and post-colonial struggles. Additionally, students focus on the role of melodrama, the importance of music and dance, the phenomenon of co-production, and the treatment of gender and sexuality. These courses are taught entirely in English. No knowledge of Arabic is necessary.
MES 77000 - Internship (150 hours/3 credits with permission of the MA-MES Director)
This course enables students to gain practical and professional experience by working in an organization or institution that caters to Middle Easterners, such as social justice/human rights agencies, ecumenical associations, charitable and educational foundations, business and media or covers the Middle East. The main objectives of the internship are to offer the student an opportunity to apply principles learned in the classroom. An internship should provide the student with hands-on experience and a good sense of what an actual job in the organization will be like. The student should be able to relate the internship experience to the knowledge that he or she has gained through the Master’s program in Middle Eastern Studies. For this three-credit course, placements should involve between 12 and 15 hours per week (a minimum of 150 hours per semester). Consultation with the Director of the MA-MES program is required before accepting an internship position.
The internship provides students the opportunity to develop specific skills or improvements in their current skill set. The internship prepares them for employment and builds their network. Assessment is based on the site supervisor’s assessment and a “report paper,” this course is taken for Pass/fail only. Within a week of beginning an internship position the student and the Director of MA-MES must consult to produce a written job description from the agency or person supervising the internship. The job must be intellectually rewarding and directly connected to Middle Eastern and/or Middle Eastern diaspora issues. This involves defining the academic focus of the internship. Students must have answers to the following: What can be learned on this job? What outside reading will be helpful to help understand the political processes involved in the job? What sort of information can be gathered while on the job? What sort of paper will be appropriate to write?
Throughout the internship, students will be required to keep a log of activities and observations. This log may serve as the basis for reports to the advisor, for insights about the process, and/or as a place to record new data. If the intern placement is out of town, consultation can be by phone, e-mail or letter. It is the student's responsibility to initiate consultations. Before the end of the term the student intern must see that her or his job supervisor sends the MA-MES program a brief evaluation of the intern's performance and activities. On-site Supervisors are responsible for provide a meaningful setting in which the student is able to utilize academic work in an applied setting. The assigned work must permit the student to become familiar with the agency, staff, and clientele. On-site Supervisors are requested to provide a written evaluation at the end of the internship to MA-MES.
MES 78000 - Special Topics in Middle Eastern Studies (3 credits)
This course will focus on specific topics in Middle East Studies, for example, Contemporary Arts (or Music) in the Middle East and its Diaspora. The course will utilize different social theories to tackle central issues in the topic and allow students to explore pertinent current debates and issues.
Final Project: Capstone Seminar or Thesis
MES 79001 – Capstone Seminar (3 credits)
This capstone seminar is intended to enable students to integrate and synthesize the knowledge of the Middle East and North Africa that they have developed during their previous study into a culminating applied final project. Projects to be developed in the course of the seminar may include, but are not limited to: artistic and/or documentary videos; source or archival directories; academic papers synthesizing secondary sources; artistic performances, whether live or recorded (or both); exhibitions; literary or cultural criticism; reports on services; or computer applications. In pursuing their final projects, students will be encouraged to interact with the rich Middle Eastern and diasporic resources in and around New York City, including museums, collections, archives, research and policy institutes, neighborhood cultural programs and centers, religious institutions, political organizations, and media organizations and projects, as well as related cultural and intellectual events. Each student will present her/his project to the class, and students in the seminar will be responsible for providing feedback and suggestions for each project.
Through the Capstone Seminar students will achieve a number of goals and outcomes. They integrate and synthesize accumulated knowledge of the Middle East into a culminating project. Develop a project refining and demonstrating appropriate technical facilities, creativity, analytical thought, clear and accurate communication, and to deliver a high-quality final product. Such products might include, but would not be limited to, an artistic or documentary video, directory, research paper synthesizing secondary sources, artistic performance whether live or recorded, exhibition, literary or cultural criticism, report on service or computer application. Students will be advised to take advantage of Middle Eastern and diasporic resources in and around New York City. Drawing on their academic experiences in the program as a whole, students will be encouraged to incorporate the resources of museums, collections, archives, neighborhood cultures, religious institutions and places of worship into work of an original character, reflecting their developed academic or other expressive interests. In addition to refining and developing this specific expertise and experience, students will also enhance communication, research, writing and oral presentation, think critically, gain confidence in working independently, respond to criticism and supervision positively, and complete projects of a contemporary professional and technical standard on time.
Students will be assessed via participation in class deliberations, presentation of the final project to the faculty and class and responding to questions and comments and having the project evaluated by faculty.
MES 79700 - Independent Study (3 credits with permission of the MA-MES Director and Instructor)
1. Choose one original research paper from an MA-MES course for revision and expansion into a circa 40-page thesis. Get permission in writing (via email) from the faculty member who read your paper in his/her course to be the Advisor.
2. Present a thesis proposal (about two pages) to the Advisor, including the following information: Proposed title of the thesis; a short discussion of research questions, methodology, sources, and anticipated key findings/argument; and bibliography. Sign up for MES 79700: Independent Study (3-credits) preferably two semesters prior to the student intentions to deposit his/her thesis.
3. Any research involving human subjects (e.g., ethnography, interviews and surveys) requires Internal Review Board (IRB) approval. Please see the Office of Sponsored Research web site for additional information, deadlines, etc. [http://web.gc.cuny.edu/orup/] or talk to Kay Powell, IRB Administrator [firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.817.7525], Room 8309.
7. At least two weeks before the filing deadline, the student makes an appointment with the Thesis Assistant, Judy Waldman, in Room 2304 in the Mina Rees Library (212-817-7069). Ms Waldman will review the penultimate version of the thesis. She will set another appointment for receiving the final thesis in bond paper and an extra copy.
8. For formatting requirements and further information about the thesis click here (Mina Rees Library Dissertations & Theses Page).
For Degree Date
Deposit Required By
Preceding Fall term
Last business day in January
Preceding Spring term