Politics of the Middle East and North Africa: Space, Society and Politics - POLI6300

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Yaniv Voller checkmark-circle


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 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.


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%

**Please note that the exam in May/June 2023 will be Online (24 hour window)**

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

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 successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1: be familiar with different aspects of the Middle Eastern conflict and the region as a whole.

2: understand the difficulties related to objectivity and the problem of bias in the study of the Middle East

3: 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

4: understand the different aspects of the Palestinian conflict and the role that this conflict plays in shaping the modern Middle East

5: understand the rise and fall of Arab nationalism and the emergence of Islamic radicalism

6: be familiar with methodological problems involved in conducting area studies

7: 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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