The following guide contains study requirements and recommendations for students enrolled in the MA programme in Contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES). It also focuses on the definition and planning of the Master’s thesis or Master’s project.
Disclaimer: This guide is for information purposes only. It does not contain official information and all decisions by students should be confirmed with the staf.
The MA programme was created by the University of Tartu to facilitate learning and research in Asian and Middle Eastern studies. The world is globalising fast as Asia and the Middle East come into increasing contact with the each other as well as the West. We need to dedicate our efforts to understand these developments, to furthering mutual understanding and cooperation.
The MA programme in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies has three founding principles: flexibility, applicability, and multidisciplinary approach.
Flexibility means two things. On the one hand, the programme is created with student’s intentions and needs in mind. As Asia and the Middle East are two vast world regions entailing a myriad of topics, many different problems and opportunities, each student should adapt his or her personal angle to the selected region or a state.
On the other hand, flexibility also means that the programme is design to change together with the world. Courses in the Elective course module will therefore change with time and guest speakers will present their latest work in open lectures.
Applicability means that the programme gives its students tools and skills which can make the world a better place. Upon graduation all students of the programme should be ready to enter the job market as experts in their selected field.
And multidisciplinary approach means that the programme provides an opportunity for students to learn about Asia and the Middle East from varied perspectives by combining social sciences with humanities. We uphold the notion that in order to understand a region or a state one needs to have comprehensive knowledge and combine social science with humanities.
The programme is led by a Programme Director. The focus and curriculum of the programme is overviewed by Programme Council of ten members, including a student representative, several employers’ representatives, and faculty.
The programme has a mentor who helps students with questions regarding the curriculum, enrollment, deadlines, housing, etc.
All students are welcome to make suggestions how to make the programme better. Students may also appeal study-related decisions. Read more about appealing here.
The CAMES programme adopts an interactive and non-hierarchical approach in teaching as well as every-day communication between students and teachers.
The programme uses active learning as its primary form of study, in addition to other more conservative forms of teaching (e.g. lectures). Active learning is a learning process in which knowledge is obtained through active participation and experience. All students are encouraged to show agency in all curricular as well as extracurricular matters. Such an approach helps students form independent perspectives, finding common ground between courses and the real world, while developing transferable skills (e.g. teamwork, analysis) which come handy once entering the job market.
Problem-based and project-based learning are subcategories of active learning and they can be successfully used for conducting interdisciplinary studies. Both of these techniques use previous knowledge and skills obtained throughout the course in order to solve a problem or create a project.
Learning methods include the following:
1. Different approaches to active learning (including simulations, role-playing games, debates, discussions, study visits, case analysis, etc.);
2. Lectures, seminars, practicums, etc.;
3. E-learning and online education;
4. Independent work (including student-led activities in lectures, homework, etc.).
Through one-on-one mentorship the programme and its leadership support the personal development of each student. One-on-one mentorship is part of the Master’s Seminar course (see below).
The curriculum uses differentiated (A-F) and non-differentiated (pass/fail) grading.
Read more about grading here.
In order to successfully graduate the programme a student must complete the curriculum in full (120 ECTS).
The programme entails five modules:
● Base module (39 ECTS)
● Elective course module (24 ECTS)
● Language module (12 ECTS)
● Optional course module (6 ECTS)
● Master's thesis module (39 ECTS)
Base module courses (39 ECTS) provide a multidisciplinary overview of political and economic developments, cultures, mindsets and demographic trends in Asia and the Middle East. Courses given in this module place developments in these regions in the context of Estonian and / or European society. But every student is encouraged to select their specific local setting (West or East) as early as possible.
RECOMMENDATION: Base module courses are all compulsory and recommended to pass as early as possible. The exception in this regard is Internship (6 ECTS) which is recommended to be taken in some later date, possibly on the 3rd semester or during summer vacation. (More on internship below.)
Elective course module (24 ECTS) allows students to specialize and get a deeper understanding based on their research interests and their chosen focus.
The courses in this module can be taken throughout the study period.
The Elective course module entails an optional Mobility module. Students are encouraged to use the opportunity to study abroad especially if a particular focus is not thought at the University of Tartu. Students can take up to 24 ECTS worth of courses during their mobility. The minimum amount of credits a student must bring home from his/her mobility is 15 ECTS.
Language module (12 ECTS) gives students a chance to learn one or several Asian or Middle Eastern languages. At least one language (which is not student’s mother tongue) is mandatory and should be related to student’s focus area.
RECOMMENDATION: If you plan to build a life in Estonia after graduation we strongly encourage you to take Estonian language courses.
Optional course module (6 ECTS) allows students to take one or more courses (up to 6 ECTS) on their own free choice without needing to explain it to the programme director.
Master's thesis module (39 ECTS) helps students achieve a successful defense of their Master’s thesis or Master's project. The module also aims to give students the opportunity to study one topic in depth in accordance with their discipline, interests and needs.
In this module students can choose between embarking on a Master's Thesis track or a Master’s Project track. Master’s Thesis track is recommended to students who aim to focus on fine tuning their theoretical knowledge and methodological skills, and plan to continue their studies as PhD students, work in a think-tank or as an advisor. This track entails a compulsory methods course (6 ECTS) of student’s free choice depending on his/her thesis’ focus.
Master's Project track is recommended to students who aim to develop their practical skills and upon graduation plan to find work in civil society, a government agency or business sector. The Master’s Project track entails a compulsory course in Project Management (3 ECTS) and 15 ECTS worth of additional courses that are related to student’s Master’s project. The choice of the additional courses must be explained to the project director.
The Master's thesis module entails a compulsory Master's Seminar course (3 ECTS) which explains and systematizes the basic knowledge and research methods for completing the Master's thesis or Master's project. This course is primarily conducted as one-on-one meetings with the programme director throughout the study period. In the seminar students develop a study plan which will guide their activities in all four semesters.
If students wish to add extracurricular courses (not offered by the programme and do not fall under the Master’s Project courses) at our home university that are related to his/her specialisation and comply with the curriculum outcomes, they are required to present an application to the programme director. The application must explain how are the learning outcomes of the specific course related to the student’s academic progress and Master’s thesis or Master’s project.
Read more about registering for courses here.
All students must write and successfully defend a Master’s thesis or a Master’s project. The procedure of writing, defending and publishing of graduation thesis’ is regulated by the official procedure for publication of graduation theses and dissertations.
Academic fraud is taken very seriously at the University of Tartu. Plagiarism is considered academic fraud. The most frequent cases of plagiarism involve the use of unreferenced sources. You may NOT reproduce another author’s text under your own name either word for word or slightly changed.
You must provide a reference to all publications, fundamental views, ideas, citations, formulae, numeric data and images by other authors that you use. You have two options: citation (quotation marks or italics should be used) and referencing (rephrasing the ideas of the original with your own words, no quotation marks). You should avoid unintentional plagiarism, e.g. rephrasing somebody else’s work without referencing. Nor should you use too many citations in your work. Generally accepted positions need no referencing.
There are several referencing styles, and you should use the one that you are used to, is the norm in your field of study, or the one that your teacher recommends.
Read more about referencing and plagiarism here.
Read more about taking previous studies and work experience into account here.
The aim of the internship is to develop student's ability to solve practical problems related to the curriculum, and to apply skills and knowledge acquired during their studies in work environment.
During the internship students apply the acquired knowledge and skills to their work task(s). Students undertake a project which is related to their professional interests, Master's thesis or Master's project.
A student may write research and policy papers for state agencies or for civil society organisations, conduct market and background research for businesses, organize events related to Asia and the Middle East, translate and edit texts, etc. Exceptions are allowed if agreed upon in advanced with the programme director.
Internships at our faculty follow a clear step-by-step process. Read more about how to plan your Internship here.
Mobility means studying a period (from few weeks to few semesters) in a foreign university. Mobility is recommended to all programme students. Students are advised to embark on mobility during the 3rd study semester.
Opportunities to study abroad are multiple, but it's easier to organise and find funding for your mobility at one of our partner universities. See the list of partner universities here.
Funding your mobility may vary depending on your destination university, country of origin, country of destination, etc. Most common funding schemes are ERASMUS+ or scholarships offered by destination countries/universities.
Read more about mobility here.Information about mobility options for the CAMES programme will be outlined here.
Before beginning studies in a foreign university students must submit an application, a study plan, and form a learning agreement. The study plan (entailing courses taken abroad) must be approved by the programme director. Students are advised to consult with the student coordinator or programme director before going to study abroad.
Courses (i.e. ECTS) taken during mobility can be transferred into your curriculum. Courses taken in a foreign country will generally be replaced by courses of the programme that have similar content and learning outcomes. If the student takes a course that cannot be replaced, they must provide an explanation letter that allows the ECTS to be carried over to the Base module or Elective courses module.
Read more about how courses can be transferred from foreign university to your curriculum here.
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