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International Relations, War and Peace in the Middle East

Module titleInternational Relations, War and Peace in the Middle East
Module codePOL2038
Academic year2016/7
Module staff

Dr Irene Fernandez-Molina (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will familiarise you with the key issues and main developments in the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the impact upon the states and people involved. The module will introduce you to the literature on the conflict and demonstrate how different and contradictory interpretations can be made of the same event (e.g. Who started the 1967 War?). You will examine the shape and substance of a final settlement between Israel and Palestine, including the return or resettlement of at least 4 million Palestinian refugees. You will also look at the Road to Peace, including the Madrid Conference and Oslo Accords and you will also be given the opportunity to discuss the future for the area and peoples involved in the conflict.

Understanding the evolution and unfolding of the Arab-Israeli conflict will provide you with insights into the nature of local, national and international politics of the region and give indications of future developments. The world crisis following the attack on the US in September 2001 makes this region one of the most important to understand in global politics. The conflict has also generated a great deal of controversy in academic circles with accusations of bias being levelled at scholars whose views are deemed pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, anti-Arab or anti-Western. In the course of discussing the issues raised in the previous paragraph, you will explore a wide range of viewpoints and attempt to understand why certain positions have been put forward.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  •     familiarise you with the key issues and main developments in the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict;

  •     introduce you to the literature on the conflict and to contradictory interpretations of the conflict;

  •     introduce you to the main issues concerning the politics of the Middle East peace process;

  •     introduce you to the basic data and the relevant literature available; and

  •     familiarise you with a range of perspectives held by different authors on the process.

The module will also aim to:

  •     sharpen your presentational skills (e.g. argumentation, discussion, presentations);

  •     introduce you to the complexities and skills required for effective diplomacy;

  •     improve your written skills through briefing papers and essays; and

  •     develop your appreciation of team work and openness to other’s ideas.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate a knowledge of key issues in contemporary Middle East politics;
  • 2. demonstrate an understanding of the actors, dynamics and trends in the peace process in the Middle East;
  • 3. demonstrate an understanding of the peace process negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians;
  • 4. demonstrate a knowledge of key issues in the Palestinian- Israeli conflict: refugees, settlements, Jerusalem, one state-two state solution;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. demonstrate an ability to find, use and analyse secondary and primary data relevant to specific issue areas;
  • 6. demonstrate an ability to place contemporary political issues into larger contexts;
  • 7. deploy critical arguments in analysing political issues and evaluating sources;

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. demonstrate independent and group work including the presentation of material for group discussion articulating and defending positions on tutorial topics;
  • 9. demonstrate analytical skills and the ability to digest, select and organise material;
  • 10. produce well organised and coherent essays to a deadline.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

The Arab-Israeli conflict and introduction to Library Resources 
Historiography 1: the British Mandate and the Palestinian revolt of 1936 
Historiography 2: The New Historians and 1948 
The War Years 1: Israeli expansion in 1956 and 1967 
The War Years 2: The Wars of 1973 and 1982 
The Rise of Palestinian Nationalism and arm struggle 
Israeli State and Society 
Changing the Balance of Power 

The Palestinian Arab minority in Israel 
The Road to Peace: Madrid Conference and the Oslo Accords 
Permanent Status Issues 1: The future of Jerusalem 
Permanent Status Issues 2: The Palestinian Refugees.

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 activity16.511 x 1.5 hour lectures to be supplemented by student group work where students learn from each other through group discussions, individual and collaborative presentations and a simulated negotiation exercise.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity1010 x 1 hour tutorials
Guided Independent study 123.5Independent study: 60 hours reading for tutorials; 10 hours team discussions; and 53.5 hours reading and completing assignments.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussions during tutorialsThroughout module delivery1-4, 8Verbal

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
Essay 1502,000 words1-7, 9-10Written
Essay 2502,000 words1-7, 9-10Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1Essay (2,000 words)1-7, 9-10August/September assessment period
Essay 2Essay (2,000 words)1-7, 9-10August/September assessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Gerner, D. (ed), Understanding the Contemporary Middle East , Boulder, Lynne Rienner, 2000. 
Kimmerling B., and Migdal, J., The Palestinian People: A History , Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2003 
Dumper, Mick The Future for Palestinian Refugees (Lynne Reinner, 2007) 
Fischbach, Michael, The Peace Process and the Palestinian Refugee Claims (United States Institute for Peace, 2006) 
Brynen Rex, and El-Rifai, Roula, Palestinian Refugees: Challenges of Repatriation and Development (I.B.Tauris, 2007) 
Dumper, M., The Politics of Jerusalem Since 1967 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997) 
Klein, Menachem, Jerusalem: The Contested City (Hurst, 2001) 
Watson G., The Oslo Accords: International Law and the Israeli-Palestinian Agreements , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000 
Goldscheider, C. (2002) Israel’s Changing Society Population, Ethnicity and Development , Second Edition, (Boulder, Colorado: WestView Press) 
Murphy, E. C. and Jones, C. (2002) Israel: Challenges to Identity, Democracy and the State , (London : Routledge.)

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

War, Peace, Middle East,  Arab-Israeli, Historiography

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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