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PPR.333: Contemporary Issues in the Middle East

Tutor: Dr Sossie Kasbarian
Term: Lent

Course Description

This course introduces students to key issues in Middle East politics today. It explores the people, society and politics of the region and the role that religion, ethnicity, gender and class have played in shaping contemporary issues. It examines the major internal and external actors in the region; conflict and peace; the geo-strategic importance of the region; issues of political economy; political change and reform; the issue of identities in the Middle East and ideologies around this; the emergence of political Islam; rising anti-Americanism; 9/11 and the fall-out in the region from the 'war on terror', the 'Arab Spring' and the unfolding revolutions.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Show a detailed analytical understanding of the main developments in the Middle East.
  • Explain the relationship between the major actors.
  • Evaluate the various approaches to understanding the issues raised by the Middle East.


40% coursework and 60% exam.
Coursework: 1 essay of 3000 words. Exam: 2 hours.

Teaching Method

Lecture (1.5 hours) and workshop (1hour) weekly.

Introductory Reading

Chatty, Dawn                                        Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge University Press, 2010
Cleveland, W L                                     A History of the Modern Middle East, Westview, 2nd ed., 2000
Fawcett L (ed)                                       International Relations of the Middle East
Filiu, Jean-Pierr                                   The Arab Revolution, 2011
Gerner D & Halliday, F                   The Middle East in International Relations: Power Politics and Ideology, Cambridge: Cambridge University
                                                                        Press, 2004
Milton Edwards, B                              Contemporary Politics in the Middle East, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006                       
Owen, R                                                    State Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, rev. edn London: Routledge, 2004
Said, E                                                         Orientalism, 1978
Schwedler J (eds)                                Understanding the Contemporary Middle East (2nd edition)
Zubaida, Sami                                       Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East. IB Tauris, 2010.

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