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International Relations of the Middle East: Everyday Matters


Admission requirements

Admission to (one of) the programme(s) listed under Part of in the information bar on the right.

Students are expected to have read the following textbook before the first class:
Fawcett, Louise, ed. International Relations of the Middle East. 5th or 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019 or 2016.


The course focuses on select themes in the international relations of the Middle East since the turn of the century. It starts out from the conventional approach to the study of regional IR: focusing on the rational interactions of state-elites (‘high politics’) and highlighting extraordinary moments of war-making and peace-brokering (the ‘eventful’ timeline of history). Alongside the conventional approach, the course introduces the ‘Everyday Turn’ in the study of IR, premised on the Feminist insight that “the private is political” and “the International is personal.”

The seminar explores political, economic, social, cultural, and military interactions among collective and individual actors in the region. We’ll look beyond the role of states, bringing in non-state actors, multinational corporations, NGOs and IGOs. We’ll turn our gaze also to the mundane, personal, embodied activities of ordinary people and their informal social groupings: families and tribes, citizens and refugees, artists and athletes, farmers and doctors, soldiers and terrorists, diaspora and children, journalists and comedians. World politics happen within their everyday, and their everyday matters in world politics.

We build on conventional primary sources of knowledge about world politics (news databases, state archives), considering alongside them such everyday artefacts as videogames and war memorials, food recipes and poems, fashion trends, jokes and hashtags, as markers of world politics. All offer us insights into the lived experiences of international relations. At the same time they demonstrate how our daily activities can reproduce, sustain, shape, and undermine the institutions, organizations, norms, policies, and regimes that constitute world politics. In deploying both the conventional and everyday IR perspectives, the course encourages students to critically assess the utility, insight, and innovation of both approaches.

Course objectives

  • To familiarize students with select themes and processes in the international relations of the Middle East since the turn of the century.

  • To develop advanced understanding and critical awareness of core concepts, research debates, and theoretical frameworks relevant to the study of the region’s international relations.

  • To promote cooperative learning and enhance students’ analytical skills through exercises of scholarly- and primary-sources review.

  • To guide students through key stages in the process of developing a research project (collecting and selecting specialist literature using traditional and electronic methods and techniques; critically analyzing and evaluating the literature in terms of quality and reliability; practicing in interview-based research methodology and the use of online news databases, in different languages as far as students’ prior training allows).

  • To design a project of ‘Everyday’ IR research, based on primary-source collection and analysis, drawing on instructor and peer feedback

  • To experience reporting research findings orally and in writing, in accordance with the standards of humanities scholarship.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


The course format is a combination of seminar discussions (based on weekly reading and viewing assignments), aimed at developing students’ advanced understanding of course material, and workshops (based on a presentation and an in-class writing assignment, followed by rounds of feedback and discussion), aimed at acquiring and practicing research skills.
Students should realize that most of the work for this course is done independently at home, in preparation for class. Seminar session and workshops offer the opportunity to reconsider and debate the readings, a space to think out-loud, and receive feedback for developing ideas.

Students are required to prepare for, attend, and actively participate in all seminar sessions. Remember that participation is as much about asking questions as answering them. Students can contribute to discussion during class as well as after class, by initiating and responding to comments posted to online discussion boards.

Assessment method


The course is assessed on the basis of Engagement across the semester (demonstrated through active participation in class discussions and contribution to online discussion boards, as well as submission of weekly reading-notes) and the completion of a Final Assignment portfolio (conducting an in-depth interview, presentation of findings, and an in-class writing assignment).
The final mark for this course is determined by the weighted average. An additional requirement is that students must pass their Final Assignment. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher for their Final Assignment. The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Late submissions will result in a deduction of marks for the assignment as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Submissions more than 96 hs late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade of 1,0 for the assignment.

Students who submit the Final Assignment late, and without giving advance notice of extenuating circumstances, lose the privilege of feedback in the form of comments. They will receive a numerical mark only for their work.

A request for deadline extension must be submitted before the deadline, or else it will be considered as a request for an extra retake. If a deadline extension of up to 3 weeks is sought, students will contact their lecturer, who will consider the request and decide whether to grant it or refer it to the Board of Examiners. No form has to be used in this case. If an extension of over 3 weeks is sought, the student will submit their request on a form.


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

50% Engagement
50% Final assignment


A re-sit is available only to students whose mark on the Final Assignment was insufficient (5.49 or lower). The re-sit date will be set at least five working-days after the ‘fail’ grade has been issued. The lecturer may decide to assign students a modified topic for the re-sit assignment. In such cases, the re-sit deadline will be set at least 10 working days after the ‘fail’ grade has been issued.

Reading list

The syllabus will be posted on Brightspace two weeks before the start of the course. It is each student’s responsibility to log into the course page well in advance of the first seminar, read through the syllabus, and turn notifications on for the course to ensure they receive announcements posted by the instructor.

To receive notifications for a course on Brightspace, go to your profile in the upper right corner (click on your name), choose Notifications. Under Instant Notifications, check Announcements - new announcement and click Save.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory for:

  • MA Middle Eastern Studies students: the number of places is limited and the principle is first come, first served. Priority is given to students who started with the MA programme in 2023-2024.

  • MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) students who opt for the Research MA version of the course. The number of places is limited and the principle is first come, first served.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Students from the other MA programmes listed under Part of in the information bar on the right, need to contact their study adviser for information on the enrolment procedure. After admission they will be registered by the Education Administration Office Vrieshof.



Please note that the additional course information is an integral part of this course description.