UndergraduateUniversity education in Norway underwent a basic transformation in 2002-2003, away from the monolithic subject entities where all students in e.g. History took identical one- or two-year subject courses covering all fields of history, to a system of independent 'modules' or courses, combinations of which could make up subjects or study programs. This reform allowed a greater flexibility in teaching, and in particular the establishment of inter-departmental programs, of which the Middle Eastern program is perhaps the most successful in terms of student numbers, with long waiting lists to attend.
Faculties vary in the number and size of courses they offer, calculated according to the European ESTC point system (60 points a year). The Social Science faculty divides the study year into six 10-point courses, while the Arts faculty use four slightly larger 15-point courses per year, two or three taken in parallel over each half-year term with exams at the end of term only. A bachelor is taken over three years (180 pts.) and contains a 90 pts 'major' subject. In addition, particular programs may provide a more structured and complete bachelor study, giving a full three-year education. The Bachlelor in Middle Eastern Studies is such a program.
Bachelor in Middle Eastern StudiesThe Middle East bachelor program was initiated in 2002, and quickly become the largest of the faculty's complete bachelor programs, with about 50 students admitted to the complete bachelor annually, and several hundred taking the various open courses it contains individually.
It is structured into two parts, first a year taken in common, giving basic overview courses in Middle East history, in the culture and society of the Middle East (the longue durée, a joint course between Archaeology, History of Religion and Anthropology), and a basic course in Arabic language.
Then the students choose a speciality, or 'major' within the program among the five participating subjects mentioned. Each of these majors consist of basic methodology and comparative overview within the subject if applicable (thus in e.g. Anthropology and Religion), and courses in the Middle Eastern aspects, such as Modern History of the Middle East, The Social impact of Sufism and Islamic Law; Islam in Africa, Women in Middle Eastern History, Religion and Politics: Islam, Cultural contact in the pre-history and early history of the Middle East, etc. The program is summed up in a half-term course where students write a longer term paper.
Students will also be encouraged to go abroad for exchange with other European partners, or to the Middle East. The courses are today all taught in Norwegian, but are otherwise open for students coming from abroad. All courses, except for Arabic (for reason of teaching resources) are also open to students outside the program, and most of them also function as optionals or specializations within the regular subject majors. (See separate page on foreign students.) For a survey of current modules and teaching, see the "Bachelor i Midtausten-studiar" page (in Norwegian).
Master's degreeThe university reform also discarded the traditional 'hovudfag' postgraduate degree and replaced it with a two-year master's degree. The content of the degree is however fairly similar to what it was previously, and is still focused around a thesis, now a master's thesis, of original research at about 100-150 pages. In the survey on these pages we do not thus distinguish between the older 'hovudfag' and new master's theses; the older term will disappear with the current generation of students ca. 2005. A former specific degree for foreign students taught in English, the M.Phil., will disappear at the same time and be integrated into the regular Master.
The master's degree includes course work, and is still structured into the established subjects, thus there is currently no particular Master in Middle Eastern studies. Instead, bachelors from the program will proceed to a master in the subject they chose as their major at the bachelor level. We do however plan, when the first group of students reach this level, to have joint teaching across the same set of departments for those working on Middle Eastern subjects.
As a preliminary effort, the History department has set up a regular weekly Middle East seminar for master students, which is also attended by students from other subjects. Students will here write two shorter term papers before their primary thesis, which will take up the second year of the two-year program.
Doctoral studiesThe older dr.art. and dr.polit. doctorates were at the same time changed into a Ph.D., which is the new formal title of Norwegian doctorates. Doctoral studies did not otherwise change much in content. The Ph.D. students follow a regular teaching program, in addition to their research works.
In addition to the Ph.D., there is also an older doctorate, the dr. philos. Equivalent in status and extent of thesis (and thus not a habilitation to be taken after a Ph.D.), the dr. philos. differs in that it is not based on a teaching program or supervision, but is a work perpared independently by the candidate and presented to the university for approval. Almost all candidates take the newer Ph.D., to which all research fellowships are linked.
Admission to Ph.D. studies is to each subject department, as is normally linked to particularly offered research fellowships, there not being any alternate funding for Ph.D. studies. Thus, all master programs may lead to a Ph.D., subject to success in the competition for fellowships.