Politics of The Middle East - PO630

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 6 15 (7.5) DR Y Voller checkmark-circle


This module introduces the students to the study of the Middle East as a region, a conflict and a security complex. Against the background of a historical review of the gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire and European rule in the region after the First World War and in order to understand the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem and the impact of the sub-state loyalties, the module will focus mainly on the various dimensions of the modern Middle East. In this context, students will explore the ideological developments in the region, most important among them, the rise and fall of Arab nationalism, the emergence of Islamic radicalism and the major regional crises and their consequences.
Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of the outside state actors, such as USA, EU and Russia on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships between the states that compose this region.
Here, special attention will be paid to the emergence of the Middle East as a security complex immediately after the Second World War and the establishment of the Israeli state, the developments during the Cold War and the limits and consequences of hegemonic power after the end of the Cold War.
The students will be introduced to the important issue of 'Orientalism', the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. The course will conclude with the discussion of the critical matter of the democratization of the region.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 24
Private study hours: 126
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Essay, 3000 words, 50%
Exam, 2 hours, 50%

Indicative reading

Cleveland, William L. A History of the Modern Middle East. Boulder: Westview Press, editions from 2004 onwards.
Fawcett, Louise (ed.), International Relations of the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, editions from 2009 onwards)
Goldschmidt, Arthur and Davidson, Lawrence, A Concise History of the Middle East (Boulder: Westview Press, editions from 2006 onwards)
Fromkin, D. A Peace to End All Peace – the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (New York: H. Holt and Co, 2009)
Hitti, P. K., History of the Arabs (Basingstoke: Macmillan Education Ltd, 1970)
Hourani, A., (et al.) (ed.) The Modern Middle East (New York: I.B. Tauris, editions from 2004 onwards)
Kedourie, E., Politics in the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)
Mansfield, P., The Arabs (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 3rd edition, 1992)
Said, E. W., Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Press, 1978)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will:
- Be familiar with different aspects of the Middle Eastern conflict and the region as a security complex
- Understand the implications that the Middle East has for international relations theory
- Understand the historical background of the making of the modern Middle East and the roles that the imperial legacy and the Cold War has played in this
- Understand the different aspects of the Palestinian conflict and the role that this conflict plays in shaping the modern Middle East
- Understand the rise and fall of Arab nationalism and the emergence of Islamic radicalism
- Be familiar with methodological problems involved in conducting area studies and difficulties related to objectivity
- Understand the Western academic approaches to the Middle Eastern societies with a special focus on the question of "Orientalism"


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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