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History of the Middle East 1 (600-1500)


Admission requirements



This course addresses the history of the Middle east, including Persia/Iran and Turkey, from advent of Islam in the middle of the 7th century CE until 1500 CE, and will cover political, social and cultural developments in the diverse societies of this region.
From the origins of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, the course follows the formation of a world empire that by 750 extended from Spain in the west to China in the east.
Thereafter it underwent a continuous process of division into empires and association under foreign conquering powers or domestic reformers. Special attention will be given to the first major conquests, the Islamization of the region, the position of Muslim and non-Muslim religious minorities, the crusades and the Islamic response to them, the use of slave soldiers, the crystallization Islamic orthodoxies. The period studied ends with the arrival of the "gunpower" empires of the Ottomans in Turkey and Safavids in Persia. Students will develop core methods of historical analysis. They will learn to interpret various kinds of historical source, including material culture, literary texts and historical chronicles, as well as modern secondary literature. Students will also analyze the process of construction of different versions of history (historiography). The course will enable students to assess critically commonly held stereotypes about Islam and the Middle East.

Course objectives

Students acquire an overview of the most important historical events and processes from the rise of Islam in the seventh century to around 1500. They gain insight into the important historical developments in the region and learn to recognize specific events and changes within them. describe and explain. Using a textbook and primary sources, they learn to analyze historical events and processes, and to place them in context. They are introduced to source criticism and historical research techniques.


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Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Attendance is not obligatory for lectures. The conveners do not need to be informed in case of missed classes. Information and knowledge provided in the lectures greatly contribute to the subsequent courses of the programme. In order to pass the course, students are strongly advised to attend all sessions.

Every week students prepare a few chapters from the textbook and other sources, as well as primary sources (Brightspace) about which they discuss on the indicated forums prior to the lecture.

Assessment method

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the following:

Partial Assessment Weighing
Midterm take-home exam 40%
Final take-home exam (open/ essay questions) 60%


The resit covers the entire material and applies to 100% of the final mark.

Reading list

Vernon O. Egger, A History of the Muslim World to 1750, The Making of a Civilization, (2nd Edition) (Routledge, 2018)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.


Dr. E.P. Hayes


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations). It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimise overlap between prior and new work.