Politics of the Middle East module (PO41011)

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Module code


Module Aims

This module aims to:

  • provide a general overview of the modern history and politics of the Middle East and North Africa and a more detailed knowledge of the political development of several countries
  • provide a fuller understanding of domestic and foreign interests in the Middle East
  • explore the basic political context under which the resurgence of political Islam took place and the basic ideas of Islamist movements
  • gain insight into causes of conflict in the Middle East
  • explore the role of the key international actors (state/non-state) in Middle East conflict resolution or peace-building
  • equip you for postgraduate level study in the humanities/social sciences, should you desire to pursue it

Module Details

This is an extraordinary time in the Middle East and North Africa. The events of the Arab Spring have shaken and overthrown regimes.

With an eye on these unfolding developments this module will allow students to explore contemporary Middle East politics encompassing both the Arab and the non-Arab worlds with a special concern for the following topics:

  • the Arab Israeli conflict
  • the Palestinian Israeli conflict
  • Gulf conflicts
  • Politics of oil
  • Political Islam: the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Al-Qaeda's ideology
  • strategy and the on-going Arab Spring saga.

The implications for wider International Relations will also be considered. Furthermore, it will offer an insight into Middle East history and politics since 1945, and provide students with the necessary background and skills for undertaking postgraduate work in the humanities and social sciences.

Topics include:

  • Introduction: Middle East and the international system
  • The Arab Israeli conflict: Facts and Myths
  • The Palestinian Israeli conflict: conflict over territory?
  • Lebanon conflict: deep-rooted sectarian and religious divides
  • War in the Gulf: Iran and Iraq 1980-1989
  • Case Study - The Persian Gulf War, 1990-1991
  • Islamist Movements - The Muslim Brothers
  • Al-Qaeda - Ideology and Strategy: What does al-Qaeda want?
  • Addicted to oil: the Iraq War
  • Yemen - the Arab Spring's success story?
  • The Rise of Iran and the West: Moving towards Confrontation?


Teaching will involve a two-hour session for all students each week.

The first half of the session consists of a lecturer-led discussion of a pre-determined topic, involving mini-lectures, buzz groups and question-and-answer slots.

After a short break, the second half of the session will consist of student-led discussion of set texts and issues, incorporating brainstorming in pairs, debates within sub-groups, and class discussion.

This allows students to develop a wide range of skills, including research, analysis and presentation.


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Essay - 3,000 words (50%)
  • Examination - two hours (50%)

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • A critical understanding of a broad historical knowledge of the formation of the state system in the Middle East
  • A comprehensive understanding of important themes and debates in politics of the Middle East, including war and peace, ideological movements and democratisation, social media and globalisation
  • An understanding of the interconnectedness of patterns of conflict in the Middle East and an ability to relate the interconnectedness of conflicts to the difficulties of peace making
  • An appreciation of the role of international powers in the conflict and resolution processes in the Middle East
  • Critically assess the impact of the State of Israel on the international relations of the Middle East
  • Become aware of the factors behind recent uprisings in the region

Recommended Texts for purchase

  • Beverly Milton-Edwards and Peter Hinchcliffe., Conflicts in the Middle East Since 1945.  Routledge, 2007
  • Beverly Milton-Edwards., Contemporary Politics in the Middle East.  Polity Press; 3rd Edition (20 May 2011)

A further extensive reading list is available on MyDundee.


30 credits


This module is available on following courses: