module specification

GI5063 - Politics of the Middle East (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Politics of the Middle East
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   One 2,500-word essay on a topic chosen from a list prepared by the module leader
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

The broad aim of this module is to develop an understanding of politics in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, in the context of contemporary international relations, and in particular to:
• describe and explain the processes by which the states and societies of the contemporary MENA region were formed;
• explore the main ideological currents that have influenced the political development of the MENA region, particularly those inspired by religion and nationalism;
• examine the interstate and international relations of the region, focusing on the sources of conflicts and the difficult relationship between the West and the region.


The module focuses on the internal political, social and economic dynamics of the region and the external forces affecting it.
It considers the impact of the Ottoman Empire, European imperialism, international Communism and the United States in this respect.
In exploring the evolution of societies and polities in the contemporary MENA region, it deals with the significance of religious faith, community, tribe, clan, nation, class and the state.
The module devotes particular attention to key themes such as Zionism, Arab nationalism, the strategic importance of oil, political liberalisation and democracy, and the varied expressions of Islam in politics.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Teaching consists of a weekly two-hour lecture period followed by a one-hour tutorial. Lectures are supported by substantial Powerpoint notes that contain relevant web links and are made available to students in a timely manner on Weblearn. Lectures are recorded and the recordings made available to students on Weblearn.

The weekly programme of students’ tutorial tasks is prepared before the start of the semester and published on Weblearn, along with relevant reading and links, thus enabling all students to participate in every tutorial session.

The Weblearn site also offers a selection of links to relevant databases, institutions, think-tanks and online publications.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module students will be better equipped to:
1. Understand the background to contemporary political developments in the MENA region;

2. Analyse the political, religious, social and economic forces that have shaped the region in the 20th century

3. Comprehend the significance of the Middle East in international affairs and explain why it is a focus of conflict.

Assessment strategy

At an early stage of the module, students will be asked to complete a brief country-by-country survey of the main demographic and economic indicators and forms of government to ensure they dispose of the necessary background information to fully benefit from the module. Key employability skills focused on will include: research involving information retrieval from a variety of resources and organization and presentation of the material.
The summative essay of 2,500 words will provide students with the opportunity to submit a major piece of work on a key element of the module. Students will be provided with individual support and feedback to enable them to produce the best possible work. This will enable students to develop employability skills additional to those introduced during the formative assessment, including writing, reflecting on what they have learnt, drawing together a range of materials into a coherent structure and making use of constructive feedback.


Core reading
Cleveland, W.L., Bunton M. (2016), A History of the Modern Middle East, 6th ed., Westview Press. (Module textbook)

Other reading
Fawcett, L. (ed.), (2013), International Relations of the Middle East, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press.
MacQueen, B., (2013), An Introduction to Middle East Politics, Sage.
Hourani, al (ed),(2004),The Modern Middle East: A Reader, 2nd ed., IB Tauris.
Lapidus, I.M. (2002),A History of Islamic Societies, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press.
Mansfield, P.(2003) A History of the Middle East, 2nd ed., Penguin
Owen, R. (2004), State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, 3rd ed., Routledge.
An especially useful Internet resource for the use of students is ciao (Columbia International Affairs Online) which includes working papers, journal articles, books and other material from over 150 institutions ( ). There are also many Middle East-specific sites, such as Al-Ahram (Cairo), /; The Jerusalem Post (  ); and the satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera ( ). A documentary archive on the Middle East is provided by the Avalon Project at Yale (