Politics of The Middle East - PO630

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5)







This module introduces students into the study of the Middle East as a region and an arena of international conflict. Against the background of a historical review of the developments in the 20th century, the module will focus on the colonial past of the region, the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the impact of sub-state loyalties – i.e. factors which have shaped the Middle East as a region and as a security complex. In this context, the 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 consolidation of the Israeli right. Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of outside state actors, such as USA, Russia and the EU on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships among those states that compose this region. Finally, the students will study the debate about "Orientalism" and the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. These issues will be addressed with a special focus on the problem of bias involved in the academic study of the Middle East.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

150 hours including 22 hours lecture/seminar; 128 study hours

Method of assessment

50% coursework (essay of 2500-3000 words), 50% exam (2hr)

Indicative reading

Fromkin DA Peace to End All Peace – the Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East ( New York: Avon Books , 1989 )
Kedouri E Politics in the Middle East ( Oxford: Oxford University Press , 1992 )
Mansfield P The Arabs ( Harmondsworth: Penguin Books , 1980 )
Said EW Orientalism ( Routledge & Kegan Press , 1978 )
Cleveland, William L., A History of the Modern Middle East, (Boulder: Westview Press, 3rd edition, 2004)
Goldschmidt, Arthur and Davidson, Lawrence, A Concise History of the Middle East (Boulder: Westview Press, 8th edition, 2006)
Fawcett, Louise (ed.), International Relations of the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Second Edition, 2005)

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"

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