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International Relations of the Middle East


Admission requirements

BA Middle Eastern Studies students who have successfully completed the propedeutic exam of the BA Middle Eastern Studies.
Students from other relevant bachelors programmes (e.g. International Studies, Political Science) who are interested in taking this course are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies


The course offers an introduction to key dynamics in the international relations of the modern Middle East. It highlights formal inter-state relations, as well as interactions that take place above and below the state level (intra-state, transnational, supra-national, and regional). Discussions cover the Arab states, Iran, Israel, and Turkey, focusing on the period from 1945 to present. The approach taken is analytic-thematic (rather than chronological). Discussions are driven by critical engagement with conceptual frameworks, theoretical approaches, and empirical evidence. Themes of International Relations that will be explored in the context of the Middle East region include: power and external intervention, politics of identity, foreign policy analysis, alliance formation, conflict resolution, security, globalisation, regionalism.

Course objectives

  • To familiarize students with select themes, events, actors, and processes that characterise the international relations of the modern Middle East

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

  • To guide students through the process of writing a research paper, drawing on instructor and peer feedback.

  • To develop students’ capacity for analytical thinking by writing a paper that demonstrates reasoned argumentation that is empirically founded.

  • To develop students’ capacity to express ideas, orally and in writing, in accordance with the basic standards of humanities scholarship.



Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

The course format is a combination of seminar discussions based on weekly reading assignments, and student presentations followed by group feedback.

Course Load

Total load: 5 EC x 28 hours = 140 hours

  • Participating in seminars: 2 hours/week x 13 weeks = 26 hours

  • Preparing for seminars: 4 hours/week x 12 weeks = 48 hours

  • Preparing presentation (one-page paper abstract) = 10 hours

  • Writing final assignment (2,500-word paper, including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography): 56 hours

Assessment method


  • Participation in seminar discussions, both in class and online

  • In-class presentation of one-page paper abstract

  • Final written assignment (2,500-word paper, including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography)

  • All written assignments must be submitted digitally on Blackboard via turnitin. It is students’ responsibility to ensure the submission has gone through. You are advised to upload assignments well ahead of the deadline in order to avoid last minute technical problems, and keep a receipt of your submission. Assignments submitted past the deadline will not receive feedback, and their mark will be deduced by 0.5 point per 24 hours.

  • Deadline extensions should be formally requested at least ten business days before the submission deadline, unless the student can demonstrate that there are serious and unexpected circumstances that prevents her/him from filing the request within that timeframes.

The writing assignment is developed in two stages:

  • A one-page paper abstract will be submitted mid-semester, and presented in class. Students who miss the abstract deadline forfeit the chance for instructor and peer feedback.

  • The final paper (2,500-words, including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography) will be submitted at the end of the semester.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average combined with the additional requirement that the final research paper mark must be sufficient - 5.50 (=6) or higher - :
participation 30%, presentation 20%, written assignment 50%.


  • The re-sit is available only to students whose mark on the final research paper assignment was insufficient (lower than 6), and whose original submission constituted a serious attempt.

  • The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Posting course materials (syllabus, assignment guidelines)

  • Online discussion board and blog posts

  • All assignment must be submitted through Blackboard

Reading list

The syllabus will be posted on Blackboard before the start of the course.


Registration through uSis is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Ms. Dr. N. Schonmann


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 above-mentioned 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.