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Study information

Politics and Economy of the Contemporary Middle East

Module titlePolitics and Economy of the Contemporary Middle East
Module codeARA1010
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Miss Billie Brownlee (Lecturer)

Dr Eleanor Gao (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will introduce you to the politics and political economy of the Middle East and give you the foundational knowledge to understand the contemporary challenges that the region is facing. The module will familiarise you with the main themes through which the region’s politics and economy have been studied and debated in the academia, from the legacy of colonialism, to the politics of Islam and latest waves of popular mobilization, looking into the political dynamics of key states (Egypt, Iran, the Gulf states, Iraq, etc).

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to provide you with a general introductory survey of the politics and political economy of the Middle East, covering topics such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the legacy of colonialism, the political economy of oil, the resilience of authoritarianism, the issue of political Islam and popular mobilization. It will provide you with an understanding of the key themes and issues pertinent to the academic study of the Middle-East region, and will seek to expand your ability to engage critically and analytically with issues facing the Middle- East region in the 21st century by situating them in historical and theoretical context, forming the basis for your studies in subsequent years.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate an understanding of the major political forces and trends, and of the main characteristics of the political economy, of the contemporary Middle Eastern region and of the dynamics affecting major states within it;
  • 2. place contemporary political events in social and historical contexts;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. relate political issues and trends to economic, societal, and cultural dynamics, and to comprehend the interplay between these at the domestic, regional and international levels;
  • 4. demonstrate analytical and critical thinking related to socio-political and socio-economic phenomena at local and international level;

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. synthesize information from various sources into a coherent written argument;
  • 6. demonstrate good oral and written communication skills; and
  • 7. demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team.

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:

  • Introduction to the Study of Middle Eastern Politics and Economy: theoretical background
  • The Making of the Modern Middle East: Colonialism and Nationalism
  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Egypt from Coup to Coup (1952-2013)
  • Lebanon, Palestine and the Diaspora: Community and State
  • Resilient Authoritarianism in Syria
  • Rentierism and Patrimonialism in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
  • Revolution and the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Imperial Legacies Return in Iraq: State Formation & the Modern Politics of Post-2003
  • The Political Dynamics of the Maghreb
  • Islamism and the Arab Spring: between Violence and Democracy

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 activity26.5A combination of lectures and guided seminar discussions, (11 x 1.5 hour lectures and 10 x 1 hour seminars) including group brainstorming and brief student presentations. Seminar discussions generally follow a related introductory lecture the previous week
Guided Independent study38Weekly reading for lectures and tutorials
Guided Independent study18Researching and preparing presentation
Guided Independent study59.5Researching and writing of summative essays
Guided Independent study8Web-based learning

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionThroughout every seminar1-4; 6Direct feedback in seminar
Essay plans x2400 words each1-4; 6-7Written feedback

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 1501,500 words1-6Written feedback
Essay 2501,500 words1-6Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1Essay (1,500 words)1-6August/September reassessment period
Essay 2Essay (1,500 words)1-6August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Compulsory readings:

  1.  Gasiorowski, Mark, David Long and Bernard Reich.  The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Westview Press, 2013, (7th edition), ONLINE.
  2. Milton-Edwards, Beverly. Contemporary Politics of the Middle East. Polity, 2018. (4th edition), ONLINE.

General readings:

Ayubi, Nazih. Over-Stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East. I.B. Tauris 1995.

Guazzone, Laura, Pioppi, Daniela. The Arab State and Neo-Liberal Globalization: The Restructuring of State Power in the Middle East. Ithaca Press, 2010.

Hourani, Albert A history of the Arab people, Belknap Press, 2010.

Lynch, Marc The Arab Uprising. The unfinished revolutions of the new Middle East, Public Affairs, 2013.

Owen, Roger. State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East. London: Routledge, 2004.

Rogan, Eugen The Arabs: A history, London: Basic Books, 2011.

Selvik, Kjetil, Stenslie, Stig. Stability and Change in the Modern Middle East. I.B. Tauris, 2011.

Tripp, Charles The power and the people, Paths of Resistance in the Middle East, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Key words search

Politics, Economy, Middle East

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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