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Centre for Media and Film Studies

MA Media and the Middle East

Overview

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?:

Students seeking a more critical and richer knowledge and understanding of the relationship between communications, culture, politics and society in the changing Middle East

This degree takes up the study of the relationship between politics, culture and communication in the Middle East through two inter-related approaches, the first thematic and the second through comparative analyses of case studies. This relationship is more pertinent to address and critique particularly in the context of the ongoing uprisings and protests in diverse parts of the Middle East. These protests which are taking place in diverse spaces of expression, including media spaces, have posed challenges to conventional theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding the Middle East and its peoples. While much has been said about the formal political outcomes and machinations of these protests, and about their meaning, there remains a serious gap in the theorization and study of the mediation of political, cultural and social life.      

As a starting point, the degree draws on theoretical approaches central to the study of culture, politics and communication, as well as theoretical frameworks used in other disciplines, to critically assess the continuously changing media and cultural landscape in the Middle East and interrogate the relationship between media, cultural production and politics. Given the fluid situation in most countries of the Middle East, the degree will critically examine different aspects of these changes, explore diverse perspectives and link them to specific case studies in order to encourage new ways of thinking and understanding the region that move out of Euro-centric debates and approaches that have resulted in vague generalizations and imaginations of the region as a coherent, self-sealed and self-explanatory space.

The programme also provides the basis from which students may proceed to (MPhil/PhD) graduate research.

Email: dm27@soas.ac.uk

Structure

This course takes up the study of the relationship between politics, culture and communication in the Middle East through two inter-related approaches, the first thematic and the second through comparative analyses of case studies, particularly in the context of the ongoing Arab uprisings which pose challenges to conventional theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding change, movement and politics in the region. As a starting point, the course draws on theoretical approaches central to the study of culture, politics and communication, as well as theoretical frameworks used in other disciplines, to critically assess the continuously changing media and cultural landscape in the Middle East and interrogate the relationship between media, cultural production and politics. Given the fluid situation in most countries of the Middle East, we will examine different aspects of these changes in the weekly seminar sessions to encourage new ways of thinking and understanding the region. The approach balances critical theoretical analysis of the hegemony implied by various paradigms with practical issues surrounding the use of media, including digital technologies.

Students must take the equivalent of 4 units.

Two Compulsory Units
At least two half-units from the range of options in the Centre for Media and Film Studies
Up to two half units or one full unit from approved options from other departments of the school
Options available in Cinemas of Asia and Africa
Options available in Department of Anthropology
Options available in the Department of Politics
Options available in Department of Development Studies
Options available in Comparative Literature and Gender
Options available in the Department of Music

Options available in the Study of Religions and in History of Art
Options available in the Department of Economics

For the following courses a background is required - admission is on a case-by-case basis

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Knowledge

All learning outcomes will be acquired through readings of recommended texts and issues explored in seminars and lectures.
Assessment: Through unseen examinations, course work, seminar presentations and research for and writing of the dissertation.

Intellectual (thinking) skills

All learning outcomes will be acquired through discussion in seminars and the required readings.
Assessment: Through unseen examinations, course work, seminar presentations and research for and writing of the dissertation.

Subject-based practical skills

All learning outcomes come from discussion in seminars and the expectation that students undertake the required reading each week, as well as the requirement to write.
Assessment: Through unseen examinations, course work, seminar presentations and research for and writing of the dissertation.

Programme Aims
  • A sophisticated and broad-ranging knowledge of communications uses and practices in the changing Middle East environment.
  • The ability to understand and explain international, transnational and global processes of communication using the concepts, theories and methods of the field of media studies, critical cultural studies and politics.
  • The ability to conduct independent research based on the analytical foundations provided by student coursework
Programme Learning Outcomes
Knowledge
  • of the role of media in the contemporary Middle East.
  • of the different approaches to studying the media and the Middle East, paying attention to particular situations and contexts rather than making generalised assumptions.
  • of the role of media, particularly social media, in processes of political, cultural and social change
  • of the relationship between the analysis of cultural production economics, power and politics in a fluid environment, with  with reference both to normative and empirical issues
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • be able to think critically – conceptually, politically, theoretically, empirically, and normatively
  • be able to apply conceptual and theoretical material to empirical data of a variety of kinds
  • be able to analyse and interpret empirical data of a variety of kinds
  • be able to demonstrate independence of judgment, especially in relation to differing interpretations of political phenomen
Subject-based practical skills
  • be able to locate, retrieve, sift and select data and evidence from a variety of sources, including manuscripts and digital sources
  • be able to deploy appropriate research techniques in a variety of specialised research libraries, institutes and other locations
  • be able to solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations
  • develop the initiative and capacity to define research questions/hypotheses, and to adjust hypotheses and approach in the light of work undertaken for the dissertation
  • be able to read rapidly and effectively a variety of types of report/paper, incorporating different types of evidence, methodology and disciplinary perspectives
Transferable skills
  • How to structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing
  • how to work independently, manage time and work to deadlines
  • how to work effectively in and contribute to groups to marshal and present evidence and arguments both orally and written
  • how to retrieve, sift, select, analyse and digest information from a variety of sources

A Student's Perspective

If you have ever wondered why you are the only person you know who is remotely interested in the Sogdian language, Achaemenid legal codes or Biblical references to the playing of the lute, take heart. SOAS is waiting for you.

Fiona O’Cleirigh