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POL2012 : Politics of the Middle East

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Una McGahern
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 80 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


•       To introduce students to the contemporary politics of the Middle East.
•       To develop students’ understanding of different political systems in the region.
•       To develop students’ awareness of the dynamic and contested nature of politics in the region.
•       To encourage students’ critical awareness of relevant academic literature (theories and concepts), as well as of the language and terminology used to describe and analyse the states, people and politics of the region.
•       To provide students with an opportunity to engage with current events and contemporary examples from the region.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module introduces students to the politics of the contemporary Middle East. Discussing a number of major political events, trends and processes which have taken place across the region from the colonial period to the present day, it provides students with an opportunity to examine how these events, trends and processes have shaped, sustained or changed political dynamics in the region. Focusing on issues of major and ongoing political relevance, it draws attention to different regime types and the experiences of ordinary people, as well as politically marginalised and vulnerable communities, in order to highlight the contested and dynamic nature of politics in the Middle East today.

Topics could include (but are not limited to):
•       State-Building Processes: Colonial Legacies
•       Authoritarianism: the Military Factor in Egypt
•       Sectarianism: Lebanon’s Confessional System
•       Political Islam: the Muslim Brotherhood at the Polls
•       Ethnonationalism: The Case of Israel-Palestine
•       Oil: The Politics of Rentier States in the Arab Gulf
•       Gender & Citizenship: Women’s Rights & Activism across the region
•       Democratization: ‘Transitioning’ Iraq
•       Uprising: The ‘Arab Spring’ Protests
•       Displacement: the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Lectures (PiP)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities104:0040:00Preparation for lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Seminars (PiP)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00Assessment advice and feedback (online)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1126:00126:00Further reading, independent research, assessment preparation and write-up
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials provide students with an overview of key themes, issues and concepts relevant to the study of Middle East politics. They help students to situate these themes, issues and concepts within the context of wider political debates and conversations in the relevant academic literature, and to illustrate their contemporary political relevance through examples/case studies from the region.

Seminars provide students with an opportunity to explore and discuss set readings in greater critical depth while also providing them with an opportunity to develop their learning in a reflective, interactive and small group setting.

Structured, guided learning activities (quizzes and set seminar readings) are designed to further develop students’ subject knowledge and enhance their independent research, applied analysis and reflective skills.

Drop in/surgery hours are provided on a weekly basis to provide students with regular opportunities to access further support, guidance and feedback.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study2M251000 words
Essay2M752500 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module is assessed in two ways:

A 1,000 word Case Study (25%) is designed to develop and test students' indepdendent research skills as well as their ability to make links between their chosen case studies and relevant theories and concepts covered in this module in a clear and succinct manner.

A 2,500 word Essay (75%) is designed to develop and test students' level of knowledge, understanding and applied analysis skills of relevant topics and concepts covered on this module in a longer format. Students will choose an essay topic from a list of essay questions that will be assigned at the start of the semester.

Reading Lists