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POL3060 : The Politics of Protest in 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: 60 student places

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module offers an opportunity for an in-depth exploration of the politics of protest in the Middle East.

Specifically, it aims to:
• Introduce students to the wide variety of different forms and types of collective action that exist across the Middle East.
• Develop students' understanding of the relationship between patterns of mobilisation and repression in producing not only repertoires of action but broader dynamics of contention.
• Advance students' understanding of the study of contentious politics and its relevance to a deeper understanding of the politics of the Middle East more generally.
• To empower students to develop their independent research, analysis and presentation skills.

Outline Of Syllabus

From the Arab uprisings of 2011 to anti-regime protests in Iran today, protests across the Middle East have captured widespread attention due, in part, to the wide range of innovative and creative tactics that protestors have deployed to make themselves seen and heard and to advance demands for political change but, also, because of the often considerable risks of violence, imprisonment and other forms of political repression that they carry. Focusing on what the politics of protest in the Middle East can tell us about patterns of mobilisation and repression more generally, this module asks: How do people mobilise and why do they mobilise in certain ways? What are the opportunities and constraints that activists face? What tactics do they use to advance their political claims? Do they work? How do policing strategies shape dynamics of contention? In what ways does space/place shape patterns of protest? Drawing on a range of contemporary case studies from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, students on this module will answer these questions while exploring the usefulness of key concepts within social movement theory and the study of contentious politics more generally in explaining contemporary patterns of protest as well as future trends in political mobilisation and change in the Middle East.

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 ActivitiesWorkshops11:301:30Collective action plan design and development (PiP)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Final week group presentation of collective action plans (PiP)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00Assessment advice and feedback (online)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1122:30122:30Independent reading and research, assessment preparation and write-up
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are designed to introduce students to key debates, theories and concepts relevant to the study of contentious politics as well as a select range of examples and case studies from the MENA region which are designed to help illustrate these debates, theories and concepts in more detail.

Seminars are designed to provide students with an opportunity to critically engage with and discuss key readings relating to the study of the politics of protest in the Middle East in order to deepen their knowledge and understanding and develop their analytical and argumentation skills in small group settings.

Workshops are designed to support deeper applied learning through independent collaborative activities. In small groups, students will be tasked with designing and developing a creative project (a group action plan) which they will then present to the class in the final week of term.

Drop ins/surgeries are designed to provide additional support to students in their preparation for assessment.

Structured guided learning activities are designed to scaffold both lectures and seminars (assignment of set readings and discussion questions) and workshop activities.

Independent study is expected to undertake wider reading, independent research and assessment preparation and write-up.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M602500 word Essay
Case study1M20800 words
Prof skill assessmnt1M20N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A 800 word Case Study (20%), to be submitted mid-semester, is designed to develop and test students' indepdendent research skills as well as their ability to make links between their chosen case study from the MENA region and relevant theories and concepts covered in this module in a clear and succinct manner.

A 2,500 word Essay (60%), to be submitted at the end of the semester, will develop and test students' ability to critically analyse revelant cases, events, themes and concepts covered in this module as it relates to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in a longer format. Students will have the option to choose an essay topic from a list of essay questions that will be assigned at the start of the semester or, if they prefer, to 'design their own question' in consultation with the Module Leader.

A Professional Skills Assessment (20%) will develop and test students’ independent and collaborative research skills, specifically their ability to apply relevant concepts to a collective action plan of their own choosing. Students will work in small groups throughout the semester to design and write-up a 2-page collective action plan which they will then present to the class in the final teaching week of the semester.

Reading Lists