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Study information

Histories of the Middle East, 600-1800 C.E.

Module titleHistories of the Middle East, 600-1800 C.E.
Module codeARA1036
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor William Gallois (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Few other regions of the world have provoked more interest and controversy than the Middle East. This module will provide you with an introductory overview of the historical, political, economic and strategic factors that shape the modern Middle East, examining key issues in the politics and society of the region from the Prophet to the end of the eighteenth century. It is designated to highlight the multi-faceted nature of Middle Eastern polities and to provide a continuity/change perspective on themes of regional unity versus political fragmentation. It also aims at providing you with the concepts and tools necessary to develop an analytical approach to understanding the Middle East.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The primary aim of this module is to provide an introduction (including for those of you with no prior background) to the complex history of the Middle East utilising a variety of sources and providing relevant social and historical context. An important secondary aim (which is indispensable for fulfilling the primary aim) is to help you become aware of and begin to appreciate the multi-faceted nature of Middle Eastern polities. The module also aims to provide you with an introduction to the major themes, issues, and events in Middle Eastern history. This context will help you to appreciate how historians interpret the past and the nature of scholarly debate about different interpretations of that past, allowing you to participate with confidence in these debates, as well as providing you with a sound basis for your future studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate your knowledge of some key themes, issues, and events in modern Middle Eastern history
  • 2. identify and explain in your own words (orally and in writing) major themes, issues, and events in Middle Eastern history

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. demonstrate understanding of how history is written and to appreciate that history is only the attempt to represent and explain the past, it is not the past itself
  • 4. read history critically
  • 5. discuss and debate different historical explanations of past events.
  • 6. respect different points of view about the past

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. think critically about issues and events.
  • 8. examine the motives underlying human action

Syllabus plan

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

  • Lecture - Studying the Middle East and Islamic history
  • Seminar - Historiography and periodisation

  • Lecture - The pre-Islamic Middle East
  • Seminar - Source analysis and material remains

  • Lecture -The rise and expansion of Islam
  • Seminar - Intellectual history and histories of religions

  • Lecture - The Umayyad and Abbasid empires: religion and daily life
  • Seminar - Social history

  • Lecture - Al-Andalus: identity and community
  • Seminar - Secondary sources

  • Lecture - Islamic thought: philosophy, politics, science and art
  • Seminar - Varieties of history

  • Lecture - The Crusades and the history of the west in the Islamic world
  • Seminar - Orientalism

  • Lecture - The Ottoman empire: trade and economy
  • Seminar - Economic history

  • Lecture - Imperial history
  • Seminar - Historiography of empires, nations and nationalism

  • Lecture - Islam and the connected worlds of the Middle East and Asia
  • Seminar - Transnational history

  • Lecture - Gendered histories of the Middle East
  • Seminar - Gender history

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 activity1111 x 1 hr lectures covering the topics listed in the syllabus plan
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity1111 x 1 hr class discussions of pre-assigned reading
Guided independent study38Reading for, and reflecting on, seminars
Guided independent study30Completing essay proposal based on research of the literature
Guided independent study60Preparing for and completing summative assignments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay proposal200 words1-7Oral

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 1351,750 words1-8Written and oral
Essay 2651,750 words1-8Written and oral

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 (1,750 words)1 - 8January reassessment period
Essay 2Essay 2 (1,750 words)1 - 8August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Arthur Goldschmidt & Lawrence Davidson, A Concise History of the Middle East (2009).

Richard Marius, A Short Guide to Writing About History (2006).

Key words search

Middle East, Prophets, Umayyad & Abbasid, Ottoman Empire, Islam, Palestine, Arab-Israeli Conflict

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date