Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap
Tied to L2K707
Tied to L2K407
Tied to M1K507
Tied to M9K607
Tied to M9L007
Tied to M1K607
Tied to T6K109


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of key concepts and theories of political economy and economic development, and of how these can be used in a mutually reinforcing and inter-disciplinary way.
  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of how these theoretical approaches have been, or could be, applied in the study of the contemporary Middle East.
  • To enable students to critically evaluate leading scholarship in the field of Middle East politics, political economy and economic development where relevant.
  • To provide students with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the arguments for good governance and economic reform.


  • Part One: Political economy explanations for development dilemmas in the Middle East:
  • Week 1. Economic growth and development theories in the ME - An examination of the level of economic growth and stage of development of the region and profiling the status of the region's economies. Assessing the utility of dependency theory in providing an explanation for under-development in the Middle East.
  • Week 2. Explaining the failure of industrial capitalism to take root in the Middle East - Examining the relationship between economic and political structures in determining the economic development of the Middle East. Using the concepts of the articulation of modes of production to identify and understand tharwa and thawra states.
  • Week 3. Rentierism and the rentier state - Examining the impact of high oil and gas incomes on the economic and political development of states. Assessing the arguments that high levels of externally derived rent have discouraged entrepreneurship and created political structures where oil income is used for patronage and governments feel less need to respond to taxpayer's demands and be accountable to citizens.
  • Part Two: The political economy of current economic challenges for the region:
  • Week 4. Oil and OPEC - Assessing OPEC's historical effectiveness as a cartel through examining residual supply theory and its dependency on Saudi Arabia as the swing producer. Explaining long-term oil price trends and short-term fluctuations through an examination of regional and global supply and demand factors. Analysing how oil has shaped relations between the region and the outside world and evaluating oil as a strategic asset.
  • Week 5. Globalisation - Examining what globalisation is and what it means for the economies of the Middle East. Examining how patterns of trade, the international division of labour, and international investment are changing and what implications these have for the politics and societies of the Middle East. Assessing the impact of information and communication technologies in accelerating these processes.
  • Week 6. Population growth - Examining demographic trends in the Middle East and assessing the potential impact of high levels of population growth on urbanisation, human resource development, employment and unemployment.
  • Part Three: The search for solutions?
  • Week 7. Economic Liberalisation and structural adjustment - Examining the nature and impact of the debt crises for the region and subsequent structural adjustment programmes. Examining the political problems and strategies associated with these programmes (including the role of external agencies) and their economic and political impact.
  • Week 8. Political reform and good governance - Examining the arguments that political reform is needed in order to make economic reform work. Assessing the importance of democratic change and whether democracy is a necessary pre-condition for sustainable economic growth, or whether good governance represents a sufficient pre-condition, this implying transparency and accountability.
  • Week 9. Regional integration or external partnership - Examining and assessing the dynamics behind, and (economic and political) achievements of, regional groupings and organisations (such as the Arab League, Arab Free Trade Area and the GCC) and assessing the alternative potential benefits to be gained from bilateral partnerships between regional states and external countries or organisations (such as the European Union, the United States, ASEAN and China).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An advanced understanding of the principal theoretical approaches towards contemporary political economy and economic development.
  • An advanced understanding of the major features of the political economy of the Middle East and an ability to analyse and assess these through use of relevant theoretical tools.
  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of the main economic challenges facing the contemporary Middle East, and of the various strategies currently being deployed by national and international agencies to meet those challenges.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to use and critique relevant advanced theoretical models and approaches to political economy and economic development.
  • The ability to analyse economic data at an advanced level when appropriate, to identify major economic strengths and weaknesses and to identify potential political causes for, and implications of, these.
  • The ability to recognise, analyse and account for political characteristics of Middle Eastern states, and to convincingly utilise major theoretical frameworks for explanatory purposes.
Key Skills:
  • Independent learning within a defined framework of study at an advanced level.
  • Independent thought in analysing and critiquing existing scholarship on the subject area and in evaluating its contribution.
  • The ability to work to a deadline and complete written work within word limits.
  • Advanced essay-writing skills.
  • The ability to seek out and use relevant data sources, including electronic and bibliographic sources.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students are taught in two-hour slots. The module is divided into three thematically determined parts. Each part will start with a one-hour lecture introducing the student to the major theoretical approaches or data relevant to the theme as a whole and to one aspect of it. These lectures will be tailored to accommodate the differential knowledge and disciplinary skills of different cohorts and to make sure that students approach subsequent seminars with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding.
  • The lectures will be immediately followed by one-hour tutorials during which students are free to explore the lecture content in greater detail and to identify areas in which they require particular guidance, for example on further reading.
  • The second and third weeks of each part will comprise a two-hour seminar based on student presentations followed by guided discussion and lecturer feedback. These seminars enable the students to develop their abilities to communicate, to present theoretical alternatives and data, and to develop their own argumentation skills. They further allow the students opportunity to exchange ideas, to explore issues and arguments that interest or concern them in greater depth, and to receive feedback from both the group and the lecturer on their own understanding and presentation.
  • Students are required to submit a formative essay at the end of the fourth week. This enables them to practice their essay-writing skills, to assess their own progress, and to receive feedback on whether they are achieving at the appropriate level, whether they are sufficiently informed, and they are expressing themselves appropriately.
  • Students are required to submit a summative essay of 3,000 words at the end of the module. This enables them to demonstrate achievement that they have sufficient subject knowledge to meet the assessment criteria, that they have achieved subject skills 1 and 3 (and 2 if the particular question requires it) and that they have acquired the key skills 2, 4, 5 and 6. Acquisition of key skills 1 and 3 will be demonstrated through seminar presentations and students will receive oral feedback on these at the end of the relevant seminars.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 3 One every three weeks 1 3
Tutorials 3 One every three weeks 1 3
Seminars 6 Weekly 2 hours 12
Preparation and Reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 4,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students will be required to submit a formative essay of 1500 words by the end of the fourth week of term.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University