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Study information

Iranian History, 1500 - the Present

Module titleIranian History, 1500 - the Present
Module codeARA3146
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Professor Rob Gleave (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module introduces you to the history of Iran, from the appearance of the Safavids to the period after the Iranian Revolution. It will provide you with a general overview of this period, whilst also examining the historiography of the period. Within this it introduces you to source materials, translation, and will enable you to use these sources to make an assessment of the historical significance of particular episodes in Iranian history. The module also introduces the various religious movements of the period, from the Safavi order itself, the various religious and mystical movements of the Safavid period, the rise of an independent clericalism in the Qajar period, and the religious elements of the 1979 revolution under Ayatollah Khomeini.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to make students familiar with the history of Iran from 1500 and the establishment of the Safavid dynasty, to the present, under the Islamic republic. In doing so the aim is to give the students an understanding of the nature of Iranian society and politics, each of which have unique features; and of the way in which the current state of Iran has come about, which often seems incomprehensible to the uninitiated. In doing so it aims to achieve some of the other benefits of historical study generally – a broadening of perspective that enhances understanding of the complexities of interaction and change in human society, the ability to see below the surface of presentation to the underlying realities of motivation and structure, and the supply of examples by analogy that students can use and apply in their own life experience (for example, the ability to recognise humbug, redundancy and dishonesty in bureaucratic practice).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate skills of historical analysis, both with reference to the history of Iran 1500-the present, but also through studying the historiography of the period, through a series of case studies.
  • 2. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the methodological tools applied to the study of Iranian history, the importance of Shiite Islam within that history and the significance of the Iranian revolution in the Middle East region generally;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Discuss empirically based research in the light of wider theoretical frameworks and to critically evaluate historical processes from a culturally specific perspective;
  • 4. Understand historical change through a multi-disciplinary approach;

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Study independently and in group work, including participation in oral discussion; and
  • 6. Organise data effectively to produce a coherent argument to a deadline, both orally and in writing.

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 Rise of the Safavids 
  • Intellectual Movements in the Safavid Period 
  • The collapse of Safavid rule 
  • Nader Shah and civil war in 18th century Iran
  • The rise of the Qajars 
  • Religion and State in Qajar Iran 
  • The Constitutional Revolution 
  • The Rise of Reza Shah 
  • Muhammad Reza Shah's modernisation and the White Revolution 
  • The Islamic Revolutionary movement 
  • The Victory of Ayatallah Khomeini
  • Iran since the revolution

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 2211 x 2 hour Seminars. Teaching sessions will include lecturing and class discussion focusing on individual presentations or on specific learning tasks;
Guided Independent learning 40Preparation for seminar presentation focused on a text or topic of relevance which may result in the assessed essay
Guided Independent learning 40Preparation for essay, including time spent in library and on other research; and
Guided Independent learning 48Additional private study and reading as preparation for class.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar presentation 20 minutes1-6Verbal

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
Written examination402 hours1-6Written feedback
Essay603,000 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
Written examination (2 hours)2 hour written examination1-6August/September reassessment period
Essay (3,000)3,000 word essay1-6August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

A. Newman, Safavid Iran: Rebirth of an Empire (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006)
R. Savory, Iran under the Safavids (Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1980)
E. Abrahamian, Iran between Two Revolutions (Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1982)
E. Abrahamian, Khomeinism : essays on the Islamic republic (London : I. B. Tauris, 1993)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

 ELE –

Key words search

Iranian History, Safavids, Iranian Revolution, Nader Shah, Qajar period, Ayatollah Khomeini.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date