War and Peace in the Middle East

Module titleWar and Peace in the Middle East
Module codePOL2051
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Professor Mick Dumper (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 or Israeli-Palestinian 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 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 crises following the attack on the US in September 2001 and the Arab uprisings in 2011 make this region one of the most important to understand in global politics. The Israeli-Palestinian 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. Furthermore, beyond the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the module will also address the civil wars in Lebanon and the current Syrian civil war as a new-generation conflict in the Levant.

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. find, use and analyse secondary and primary data relevant to specific issue areas;
  • 6. 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:

  • History of the Arab-Israeli/Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • The emergence of the states system in the Middle East and the British mandate for Palestine, 1920-1948
  • The creation of the state of Israel, the Palestinian refugee issue and the first wars: 1948, 1956
  • Occupation and changes in the regional balance of power: the 1967 and 1973 wars, and the 1978 Camp David Accords
  • Israeli state and society: Zionism, state-building and the conflict’s impact on Israeli democracy
  • Palestinian nationalism: three generations/faces
  • The role of global powers and peace negotiations, from Madrid to Annapolis
  • Permanent status issues (1): negotiating Jerusalem
  • Permanent status issues (2): the Palestinian refugee issue
  • Permanent status issues (3): borders and settlements
  • Alternative visions: one state or two?
  • Other conflicts in the Middle East/Levant (1): Lebanon: civil wars, the Palestinian factor and the Israeli invasion
  • Other conflicts in the Middle East/Levant (2): the Syrian civil war: a new-generation conflict

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 Study6060 hours reading for tutorials
Guided Independent Study10Team discussions
Guided Independent Study53.5Reading and completing assignments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussions/presentations on essay topics 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 re-assessment period
Essay 2Essay (2,000 words) 1-7, 9-10August/September re-assessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Milton-Edwards, B. (2009) The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A People’s War (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Peters, J. and D. Newman (eds.) (2013) The Routledge Handbook on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Brand, L. (1988) Palestinians in the Arab World: Institution Building and the Search for State (New York/Guildford: Columbia University Press).

Cleveland, W.L. and M. Bunton (2016) A History of the Modern Middle East (6th ed.) (Boulder, CO: Westview Press).

Choueiri, Y.M. (ed.) (2007) Breaking the Cycle: Civil Wars in Lebanon (London: Centre for Lebanese Studies/Stacey International).

Dumper, M. (1996) The Politics of Jerusalem since 1967 (New York: Columbia University Press).

Dumper, M. (2007) The Future of Palestinian Refugees (Boulder, CO/London: Lynne Rienner).

Dumper, M. (2014) Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History and the Future of the Holy City (New York: Columbia University Press).

Fawcett, L. (ed.) (2013) International Relations of the Middle East (3rd ed.) (Oxford University Press).

Gerner, D. (ed.) (2000) Understanding the Contemporary Middle East(Boulder, CO/London: Lynne Rienner Publishers).

Halliday, F. (2005) The Middle East in International Relations (Cambridge University Press).

Hinnebusch, R. (2015) The International Politics of the Middle East (2nd ed.) (Manchester University Press).

Hirst, D. (2003) The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (London: Faber).

Isacoff, K. (2006) Writing the Arab-Israeli conflict: Pragmatism and Historical Inquiry (Lanham: Lexington Books).

Khalidi, W. (1971) From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestinian Problem until 1948 (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies).

Kimmerling, B. and J. Migdal (2003) The Palestinian People: A History(Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press).

Joffe, L. (1996) Keesing's Guide to the Middle East Peace Process (London: Cartermill Publishing).

Lapidoth, R. and M. Hirsch (eds.) (1992) The Arab-Israeli Conflict and its Resolution: Selected Documents (Dordrecht/London: Martinus Nijhoff).

Lea, D. (ed.) (2002) A Survey of Arab-Israeli Relations 1947-2001 (London: Europa).

Milton-Edwards. B. (2011) Contemporary Politics in the Middle East (3rd ed.) (Cambridge: Polity).

Pappé, I. (2006) AHistory of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (2nd ed.) (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press).

Pappé, I. (ed.) (2007) The Israel/Palestine Question: A Reader (2nd ed.) (Oxon/New York: Routledge).

Porath, Y. (1974) The Emergence of the Palestinian- Arab National Movement 1918-1929 (Frank Cass: London).

Rabinovich, I. (2004) WagingPeace: Israel and the Arabs, 1948-2003 (Princeton, N.J./Oxford: Princeton University Press).

Rogan, E.L. and A. Shlaim (eds.) (2008) The War for Palestine (2nd ed.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Sayigh, Y. (1997) Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949-1993 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Segev, T. (2000) One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (New York: Metropolitan Books).

Smith, C.D. (2013) Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents (8th ed.) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).  

Tsur, J. (1969) Zionism: National Liberation Movement (Jerusalem: Government Printing Press).

Zertal, I. and A. Eldar (2007) Lords of the Land: The War over Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007 (New York: Nation Books).

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

War, Peace, Middle East,  Arab-Israeli conflict, Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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