MA in Oriental StudiesMA Courses in Iranian Studies
Persian
Two years of Persian language instruction provide proficiency in areas of comprehension, conversation, reading, and writing.  Students explore the intricacies and complexities of the Persian language through the introduction of original literary works—prose and poetry, classical and modern.  Larger social, political, historical, and cultural aspects of literary production in Persian are emphasized.
Political Translations in Persian
This course aims to understand the unique Islamic politics of Iran through the translation of various political texts and studying of political terms as a way of examining the theocracy and political phenomena of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This course reviews the trends of Iranian political thought from ancient to modern times. Arguments by political philosophers from various eras are looked at to learn the characteristics of the history of Iranian political thought.
Iranian Languages: Historical Overview
The term “Iranian language” is applied to any language which is descended from a proto-Iranian parent language (unattested by texts) spoken, presumably, in Central Asia in the late 3rd to early 2nd millennium B.C.E. In historical times, Iranian languages have been spoken over an area stretching from easternmost Chinese Turkestan to western Europe. This course aims to give a thorough grounding in Old, Middle and New Iranian languages.
Theoretical Issues of the Persian Grammar
This course covers the major empirical and theoretical issues in the study of morphology, phonology and syntax emphasizing links to other components of Persian grammar.
Arabo-Persian Sources
This course aims at fulfilling a twofold purpose: to acquaint students with classical Arabo-Persian literature and familiarize students with the history and development of Classical Arabic and Persian culture and literature and the sources for their study.
Problems of Iranian Literature
After an introduction covering the changes in Iranian literature in the nineteenth century and the early moves towards the simplification of the ornate classical style, the course examines the adoption of new genres and styles under Western influence, the tendency towards colloquialism, treatment of political and social issues and the development of these trends up to recent times. The set texts are selected from a range of fictional literature in the form of short stories, representative extracts from novels, and non-fictional pieces such as essays, articles in literary journals, biographies and relevant works of social and political analysis.
Toponymy as a Historical Source
Toponymy is a taxonomic study of place-names, based on etymological, historical, and geographical information. It divides place-names into two broad categories: habitation names and feature names. A habitation name denotes a locality that is peopled or inhabited, such as a homestead, village, or town, and usually dates from the locality’s inception. Feature names refer to natural or physical features of the landscape and are subdivided into hydronyms (water features), oronyms (relief features), and places of natural vegetation growth (meadows, glades, groves). The course will introduce Iranian toponymy and historical aspects of it as a source.
Medieval Travelers about Iran
This course examines travel writings from various medieval European travelers, who have been in Iran. Medieval people travelled Iran for a variety of reasons: trade, diplomacy, religious pilgrimage, the lure of the unknown. Some wrote fascinating accounts of their travels and adventures. These narratives are accompanied by accounts of purely imaginary voyages, and of fantastical peoples, kingdoms and marvels.
Some Issues of History of Ancient and Medieval Iran
Explores the history of ancient and early medieval Iran, from the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster to the Islamic conquest of the Sasanian Empire. Focuses on the two dominant imperial phases of pre-Islamic Iranian history: the Achaemenid Empire created by Kings Cyrus and Darius, and the Sasanian Empire.
Historical Geography of Iranian-speaking Areas
The Iranian linguistic area, extending from Kurdistan to Chinese Turkestan, links the Middle East to Central Asia, India and the Far East, while empires based in Iran bridge the gap in time between the civilisations of the ancient Near East and the coming of Islam. Both geographically and historically, therefore, Iran has a central place within Oriental Studies.
Analysis of Political Texts
Students will explore questions such as why are certain conflicts covered in the news and others not? In what way do media report on certain political parties or leaders? To what extent can we see bias in news coverage? Students will conduct research using both automatic and manual content analysis for their own research. They will formulate a research question, develop a model to answer the research question and transform this question in measurable concepts, analyze the data and present the results in an adequate way.
Russian Policy towards Iran
This course analyses the foreign policy of Russia towards Iran, from Safavid period to the modern day, examining energy, security and regional issues in relation to the cooperation between these two states.
Security Issues and Conflicts in Iran
Iran is a resourceful country blessed with vast territory, solid national identity and rich cultural heritage and tradition. Iran harbors no expansionist ambition in the conduct of its foreign relations. The Islamic Republic of Iran views its security in a broad concept. Political, economic, cultural and military factors shape it’s multifaceted approach toward the issue of national security. The course will investigate all these factors.
History of Political Thought in Iran
The objective of this course is to familiarize the students with continuities and shifts in the major themes addressed by Islamic political thinkers from throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, with special emphasis on Iran, from the medieval through the modern periods. Themes will include the building of a just political order, and the relationship between procedural and substantive justice, as well as issues of human rights, equality, war, and democracy. Moreover, the course will examine the impact of oil politics on the Middle East. The focus is on modern history of major oil producers in the Middle East from the Iranian revolution to the recent conflict in Iraq and the involvement of the Gulf States.  This course will also analyze the relationship between oil, foreign intervention, nationalism, democratization and religion. 
History of Armenian-Iranian Relations
Armenia-Iran relations date back more than 2,500 years to a time when two kindred nations are believed to have developed from a common linguistic family. Notably, the term “Armenian” was first recorded in the 4th century B.C. by Persian king Darius. Up until the early 1800s, Yerevan was the center of a khanate that was a part of the Persian Empire. From that time till now—and including when diplomatic ties between independent Armenia and Iran developed in 1992—the countries have shared many commonalities. For centuries they worshipped the same gods and royal dynasties shared kindred relations.
Ethnic Formation Processes in Near East
This course surveys the peoples, places, and events of the ancient Near East. Examines the cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel with an eye to each culture’s cultural contributions. Pays special attention to shared cultural elements as well as distinguishing characteristics of the peoples of these regions.
Some Issues of the History of the Kurds
This course will introduce students to the history of the Kurds. Its primary aims are to develop an understanding of the history of the Kurds and analyze their political development from a range of perspectives. The course will encourage students to critically examine the history of the Kurds and their politics, considering issues of social organisation, nationalism, political party formation, identity, political economy, regional relations, and international relations.
Ethno-linguistic Situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia
Afghanistan is situated at the crossroads between Iran, Central Asia and South Asia, a unique geographical position that is reflected in its diverse linguistic and ethnic make-up. Some 30 living languages belonging to three unrelated families are spoken in its territory: Indo-European, Turkic, and Dravidian. The major ones are Pashto and Dari. The course will examine ethnic and linguistic situations in these areas.
Modern Ethno-linguistic Landscape of North-West Iran and South Caspian Area
During the course the following dialects will be included: Ṭāleši on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and Tāti and Āẕari dialects from Iranian Azerbaijan through the Central Province and into Gilān, corresponding roughly to ancient Media; the Caspian dialects, Gilaki in Gilān and Māzanderāni; Zaza (Dimli) in eastern Turkey and Gurāni (including Awromani) in eastern Iraq and western Iran; several dialects on the northern edge of the Dašt-e Kavir, among them Semnāni; and the Central dialects, comprising a number of more or less interrelated dialects spoken in an area between Hamadān, Dašt-e Kavir, Kāšān, and Isfahan.
Problems of Iranian Ethnology and Ethnography
Ethnography is the basic field research method in anthropology. Most ethnography in Iran has been conducted in tribal and especially in nomadic communities, where the distinction between public and private is subtler and community life is more open for the ethnographer’s participation.
Iranian Ethnic Element in the Caucasus
This course will provide an introduction to the Iranian ethnic elements in the Caucasus with a special emphasis on Ossetian, Kurdish, Tati and Talyshi, with a sizeable community of speakers in the Caucasus.
State-tribal Relations in Iranian-speaking Areas
As bases of identity and political allegiance and behaviour, ‘tribe’ gives primacy to ties of kinship and patrilineal descent, while ‘state’ insists on the loyalty of all persons dwelling within a defined territory, whatever else their relation to each other. ‘Tribe’ stresses personal, moral and ascriptive factors in status, while ‘state’ is impersonal and recognises contract, transaction and achievement. The division of labour in the tribal model is ‘natural’; in the state model it is complex. The tribal mode is socially homogeneous, egalitarian and segmentary; the state is heterogeneous, inegalitarian and hierarchical. The opposition between these two models, their confrontation with each other and with social reality in Iranian-speaking areas will be analysed.
Some Issues of the History and Culture of Ossetians
Ossetians are last living descendants of the Scytho-Sarmatian group of Iranian peoples. They go back to the Alans, who, in the first centuries A.D., created a kingdom in the area to the north of the Caucasus which existed until the 13-14th centuries, when it was wiped out by the Mongol and Timurid invasions. The surviving Alans fled to the highlands, where they became known to the outside world under their Georgian-based exonym “Ossetians”.
The knowledge of Ossetic is indispensable not only for comparative work on Iranian languages, but also for the typology of language contact and for the study of the Caucasian linguistic area. Also of importance is the cultural heritage of the Ossetians, in particular the Nart epics, which are, like the rest of Ossetic, a peculiar mixture of Indo-European and Caucasian elements. 
Pre-Islamic Religions of Iran
A narrower definition of Iranian religions before Islam includes the Indo-Iranian tradition, Zoroastrianism (including the movement of Mazdak), and the pre-Zoroastrian religion of western Iran; in what follows this course will concentrate on these traditions. (Special emphasize will be on Manicheism, which, although not an originally ‘Iranian’ religion, still played an important role in Iranian history).
Ethno-religious Groups in Iran
Iran is a multi-ethnic country with different ethnic groups that includes Persians, Kurds, Gilakis, Mazandaranis, Lurs, Tats, Talysh, Baloch,Turkmen and Qashqai peoples, Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Georgians, Circassians, Mandaeans, etc. The course will study this ethnic groups from their religious aspects.
History of Islamic Sects
The course examines various political and theological understandings of the Islamic religion and the intellectual manifestations of these understandings. It investigates denominational groups (Khawarij, Shi‘a, Mu‘tazila, Murji’a, Ash‘ariyya, Maturidiyya, Druze, Nusayriyya, Yazidiyya, etc.) that came into existence with certain political and theological objectives during the classical Islamic period. The course studies the conditions under
which the sects came into existence, the reasons for their coming into being, and their formative periods, main ideas, followers, literatures, regions, and contributions to Islamic intellectual history.
Political Islam
This course in Political Islam investigates a number of “radical” Islamic movements such as Salafism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Islamic revival in Iran post-1978. At the same time, alternative understandings of Islam will be examined including the so-called “liberal” version, Islamic feminist thinking and contemporary manifestations of Sufism (the so-called “mystical” side of Islam). As the course progresses the topics will engage with the historical Islamic tradition, so that students will appreciate the wide variety of “Islams” that have appeared in modern times. An understanding of Islam is imperative in the contemporary period, with issues such as security, identity and immigration appearing on a daily basis.
Methodology of Cognition
The course will analyze how to design a behavioral study in cognitive science, how to choose the correct research design and basic terms in research methods (reliability, validity). It will emphasize problems and fallacies in research, both in the statistical and in the methodological levels, and we will help students acquire skills for critical assessment of empirical studies.
Moreover, this course aims at improving oral and written presentation skills that are vital for Cognitive Scientists. How does one write an abstract, a methods section, or a results section for an empirical paper? How can experimental results be presented most effectively? What are good strategies for dealing with reviewers’ comments when revising a paper? How does one write a review? What is important to keep in mind when writing a research proposal? What makes for a good oral presentation?   
History and Methodology of Area Studies
This course helps students make research topics, questions, and theoretical problems materialise in tangible research activities. How can you make ideas work? What will you actually be doing in your project? How do you explicitly shape relationships between theory on the one hand, and everyday research practices, on the other? The course will address important epistemological concerns and related practices, toward familiarity with the broader spectrum of methodological approaches on which your research is located.
The course will have sessions on key notions and sessions on key methods taught by scholars in among others history, visual studies, literary studies, anthropology, and archaeology.