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International Relations of the Middle East: Everyday Matters (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other programmes are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.

Students are expected to have read the following textbook before the first class:
Fawcett, Louise, ed. International Relations of the Middle East. 3rd, 4th, or 5th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 2016, or 2019.


The course explores key themes and processes in the international relations of the Middle East over the past 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 this 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”.

Throughout the semester our seminar group will engage with select themes in the conduct of relations among state and non-state actors that constitute and shape regional politics. We’ll explore, for example, such IR processes as the formation of the regional system and society of states, the ebb and flow of regionalist projects, the Arab-Israeli conflict, foreign interventions, globalization and the region’s political economy. In so doing, we’ll look beyond the role of states, multinational corporations, NGOs and IGOs, turning our gaze also to ordinary people, their social groupings, and mundane, personal, embodied activities: 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 everyday matters in world politics.

We’ll turn to conventional “authoritative” sources of knowledge about world politics (texts of treaties, news coverage, minutes and transcripts), but alongside them consider such everyday artefacts as videogames and war memorials, food and drugs, poems, fashion, jokes, and hashtags, as markers of world politics. All offer us insights into the lived experiences of world politics, as well as how daily activities reproduce, sustain, shape, or 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 key themes and processes that characterize 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 the study of the region’s international relations.

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

  • To guide students through 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; formulating a well-defined research problem based on this literature field; designing a study of limited size taking into consideration the methods and methodologies relevant to the humanities and social sciences disciplines) drawing on instructor and peer feedback.

  • To provide students with hands-on practice in interview-based research methodology and the use of online news databases, in different research languages as far as students’ prior training allows.

  • To experience designing a project of ‘Everyday’ IR-analysis, as well as reporting findings orally and in writing, in accordance with the standards of humanities scholarship.

  • To develop students’ capacity for analytical thinking by developing a primary-source based research project that demonstrates reasoned argumentation that is empirically well founded


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The course is offered as part of a full-time program of studies, and therefore work commitments, holidays, or overseas travel do not constitute valid reasons for absence. The lecturer should be informed in writing of any classes to be missed for a valid reason (i.e., due to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond the student’s control, such as documented illness, family bereavement, problems with residence permits, victim of crime, or railway delays). In case of a justified absence, it is up to the Lecturer to decide whether the missed class should be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Please note that you are required to provide documentation that supports your case for absence where possible. Absence without notification and approval could result in a grade deduction, or in work not being marked and a failing grade for the course.

The course format is a combination of seminar discussions, based on weekly reading and viewing assignments, as well as individual and group presentation assignments followed by a round of discussion and feedback.

Students should be aware that most of their work is done in preparation for the seminars. They are expected to arrive in class ready to discuss the weekly readings. Class discussions offer the opportunity to debate the readings, a space to think out-loud, and receive feedback for developing ideas.

Assessment method


The course is assessed on the basis of the submission of a Final Assignment, and Engagement across the semester (demonstrated through active participation in live seminar discussions and Brightspace discussion boards, submission of weekly reading-notes, a mid-semester presentation and a team-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 that can be obtained from the coordinator of studies.

Assessment and Weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Engagement 50%
Final Assignment 50%


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.

Inspection and feedback

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

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.

For the Research MA students additional reading will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.


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


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof