Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module SGIA49530: International Politics of the Middle East

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA49530: International Politics of the Middle East

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module aims to familiarise students with key concepts and theories in the study of politics and international relations of the Middle East. Students will directly address the complex nature of the politics and international relations of this region to gain an oversight of internal dimensions and their links with regional and extra-regional relations. Covering a range of theoretical approaches and disciplinary debates within Comparative Politics and International Relations, the module addresses the security, economic, identity and politics dynamics of the region. By the end of the module, students should have gained an insight into how theories and concepts have been, or could be, applied to the study of this ever-fluctuating region. Through various theoretical approaches, the module will navigate several cross-cutting themes in the region. Furthermore, the module enables students to critically evaluate leading scholarship in the study of the region.


  • This module offers an in-depth theoretical and empirical understanding of the international relations of the Middle East. The module situates the region in analytical, conceptual and theoretical debates of International Relations and Comparative Politics. On the one hand, the module enables students to engage with broader disciplinary debates about the region. On the other hand, the module enables students to reflect on how regional particularities contribute to wider theoretical debates in International Relations and Comparative Politics. Furthermore, the module provides students with empirical knowledge of the main historical events, processes and actors that have shaped and continue to shape the international dynamics of the region. Indicative themes that the module will address may include war, peace, alliances, threat perception, great power interventions, and the determinants of foreign policies.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of this module, students will acquire knowledge and understanding of:
  • the major theoretical approaches to the study of politics and international relations of the Middle East;
  • the major features and particularities of the politics and international relations of the Middle East;
  • the key actors and processes situated at multiple levels of analysis that are shaping international relationships and political dynamics in the region.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • apply and critique relevant theoretical frameworks and approaches of politics and international relations to the study of the region;
  • recognise, analyse and account for characteristics of regional politics and international relations;
  • interpret and analyse empirical data at an advanced level when appropriate, to identify major events and trends;
  • evaluate competing theoretical approaches in explaining particular regional events. events.
Key Skills:
  • Students will also develop important key skills, suitable for underpinning study at this and subsequent levels, such as:
  • 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;
  • Advanced ability to seek out and use relevant data sources, including electronic and bibliographic sources, as well as primary sources, and policy reports;
  • Ability for independent thinking informed by academic debate at an advanced level;
  • Advanced essay-writing skills;
  • Ability to work to a deadline;
  • Effective written communication of research and policy applications;
  • Ability to reflect critically on their own work and performance.

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

  • Teaching and assessment methods of the module are intended to provide the framework for the required synthesis of Comparative Politics and International Relations theoretical approaches and their application to the Middle East while promoting the required subject-specific and key skills.
  • The module is taught on the basis of 15 one-hour lectures and 15 one-hour seminars to cover the wide range of theoretical and empirical issues related to the study of Middle East Politics and International Relations.
  • The weekly lecture introduces students to different theoretical approaches and their application to relevant contemporary themes and events in the region. The lecture provides the framework and the overarching narrative for the weekly topic and serves as a guide for students’ readings and preparation towards the seminars.
  • In seminars, students have the opportunity to discuss and reflect in greater detail upon some of the issues raised in the lectures. Group discussions encourage students to develop their critical analysis and independent thinking beyond the readings.
  • The essay enables them to demonstrate that they have acquired sufficient subject knowledge and have achieved the subject skills as well as key skills.
  • Students will be required to submit a formative essay. This enables them to practice their essay-writing skills, to assess their progress, and to receive feedback on whether they are achieving at the appropriate level, whether they are sufficiently informed, and whether they are expressing themselves appropriately.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 15 Weekly 1 hour 15
Seminars 15 Weekly 1 hour 15
Preparation and Reading 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 50%
Essay 2500 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

Students will be required to submit a 1,500-word essay as a formative assessment.

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