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The History and Political Development of Iraq

Module titleThe History and Political Development of Iraq
Module codeARA3136
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Professor Gareth Stansfield (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will introduce you to the history and political development of Iraq, and will encourage you to critically examine Iraq’s history and politics. The module is structured around main periods and themes of Iraq’s history since the beginning of the 20th century. It particularly considers issues of state-building, political structures, nationalism and identity, political economy, regional relations, and international relations, Saddam Hussein’s rule and the post-2003 reconstruction.

This module is suitable for specialist and non-specialist alike. No prior knowledge is required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The purpose of this module is to develop an understanding of the modern history and politics of one of the most critical state actors in Middle East politics. The module aims to generate among students an appreciation of how social, economic, political, and international forces have met in Iraq, culminating in the contemporary post-2003 situation. The module aims to make students familiar with the latest scholarship on Iraq, and engage with actual actors who will be invited to selected lectures.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate understanding of Iraq's historical development;
  • 2. Assess and analyze Iraq's internal political and social structures;
  • 3. Demonstrate comprehension of Iraq's position in the region;
  • 4. Analyze and assess Iraq's economy;
  • 5. Examine Saddam Hussein's emergence and rule, the Gulf wars, the international sanctions, and the 'regime change';
  • 6. Apply and discuss theories of state-building, nationalism, political economy, and democratic transition.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Discuss and analyze historical material;
  • 8. Critically evaluate the forces of state and nation formation;
  • 9. Embrace a multi-disciplinary approach in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of a particular country;
  • 10. Undertake a study from a multi-disciplinary perspective;
  • 11. Employ visual aids in project work.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 12. Demonstrate skills in time management;
  • 13. Demonstrate skills in using information technology;
  • 14. Demonstrate oral and written communication skills;
  • 15. Demonstrate abilities to work effectively in study groups with limited guidance;
  • 16. Demonstrate skills to plan and produce course-work to a deadline.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Week 1: General Presentation of the Module, and Iraq before Iraq.

Week 2: The British Mandate: State Formation, Land and People of Modern Iraq.

Week 3: Monarchical Iraq, 1932-1958.

Week 4: Republican Iraq I: Qassim and the Arab Nationalists, 1958-68.

Week 5: Republican Iraq II: Ba‘th Party Rule, 1968-1990.

Week 6: Iraq’s Economy I (1970s- end 1980s): the Rise of a New State Bourgeoisie under Ba‘th Rule.

Week 7: The Gulf War and its Consequences: Sanctions, Intifada and KRG Formation.

Week 8: Saddam Hussein’s Strategy of Survival: Tribal/Religious Revival, Clannish Policies and Elites’ Management.

Week 9: Iraq’s Economy II (1990s): Sanctions and Economic Breakdown.

Week 10: Regime Change, Iraq post-2003.

Week 11: Conclusion: Iraq Dictatorship or Democracy?

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity 22Lectures and seminars.
Guided Independent Study128Private study outside the classroom including wider reading, presentation preparation, essay preparation.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
One group presentation15 minutes1-16Direct feedback in seminar
Class discussionWeekly1-10; 14Direct feedback in seminar

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay502,000 words1-12; 14; 16Written feedback
Examination502 hours1-10; 12; 14Written feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (2,000 words)1-12; 14; 16August/September reassessment period
ExaminationExamination (2 hours)1-10; 12; 14August/September reassessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Abdul-Jabar, Faleh and Hosham Dawod, eds. Tribes and Power. Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Middle East. London: Saqi, 2003.

Abdul-Jabar, Faleh, ed. Ayatollahs, Sufis and Ideologues: State, Religion and Social Movements in Iraq. London: Saqi Books, 2002.

Alnasrawi, Abbas. Iraq’s Burdens: Oil, Sanctions and Underdevelopment. London: Greenwood, 2002.

Anderson, Liam and Gareth Stansfield. The Future of Iraq: Dictatorship, Democracy or Division? New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Baram, Amatzia. Building Toward Crisis: Saddam Husayn’s Strategy for Survival. Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1998.

Baram, Amatzia. Culture, History and Ideology in the Formation of Ba‘thist Iraq, 1968-89. London : Macmillan /St Antony’s College, Oxford, 1991.

Batatu, Hanna. The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements in Iraq. London: Saqi, 2004.
Dodge, Toby. Iraq’s Future: the Aftermath of regime change. London: Routledge for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2005.

Dodge, Toby and Steven Simon, eds. Iraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime Change. London: IISS/OUP, 2003.

Dodge, Toby. Inventing Iraq. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Farouk-Sluglett, Marion and Peter Sluglett. Iraq Since 1958: from Revolution to Dictatorship. London : I. B. Tauris, 1990.

Marr, Phebe. The Modern History of Iraq (2nd edition). Boulder CO: Westview, 2004.

Niblock, Tim. "Pariah States" and Sanctions in the Middle East: Iraq, Libya and Sudan. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2001.

Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq (3rd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Visser, Reidar. A Responsible End? The United States and the Iraqi Transition, 2005-2010. Charlottesville, VA: Just World Books, 2010.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Iraq, politics, history, economy, development

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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