Many of the critical issues facing our world focus on, or otherwise involve the 'Middle East'. This unit covers the core knowledge of the Middle East from the 19th to the 21st century. We start with the emergence of the modern Middle East from the fall of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the Great War to the present. We discuss the Ottoman legacy in the region and the Western impact on the creation of new nations. We review the emergence of Arab nationalism, the modernisation efforts of Middle Eastern governments, the struggle of various peoples for political independence, social and culture changes, issues of religion and state, and the evolution of Islamist politics. In this unit, we also discuss the evolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its impact on the region, the First Gulf War and we conclude with a comprehensive analysis of the "Arab Spring" by placing the current revolutions and events in their historical context.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical, ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of the Middle East upon which contemporary political complexity is based;  
  2. Interpret Orientalism and/or post-colonialism, and how it shaped the ways in which Western audiences view the Middle East;  
  3. Apply an understanding of the relationship between democracy, nationalism and self-determination; causes of migration movements; and  
  4. Explore civil society with particular reference to political opposition, feminism, and other political movements.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Test In-class source analyses x 3 12%
Essay Research essay 30%
Test In-class source analyses x 7 28%
Test In-class Test 30%

Required reading

A History of the Modern Middle East, Sixth Edition,
Cleveland, William L., 2016
Westview Press, Boulder, CO

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