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Ideology and Politics in the Middle East


Admission requirements

This class is intended (in order of preference) for

  • (1) students of the BA Middle Eastern Studies who have successfully completed History of Middle East 1500-present;

  • (2) premaster students for the MA Middle Eastern Studies and

  • (3) students from other programmes. Please contact the coordinator of studies, Eli van Duijnen, to find out whether you can be admitted to this class.


This course is an advanced survey of the impact of key ideological currents on Middle East politics from late 19th century to the present. It critically reviews how secular and religious ideologies have shaped and justified hegemonic and counterhegemonic political projects in the region. These include different forms of nationalism and Islamism. By adopting an intellectual history approach, the course will also analyze the impact of global ideas and trends – such as enlightenment, colonialism, democracy, and modernity as well as socialism, liberalism, and feminism – on the politics and societies of the Middle East. The course will introduce theories of nationalism, concepts of political thought, and methods of intellectual history. The course relies on a review of secondary literature and translated primary sources of political thought.

Course objectives

The purpose of this course is to help students understand the ideological and intellectual trends of history of the modern Middle East.
At the end of the semester, students should be able to:

  • give a broad overview of ideological trends and their main intellectual protagonists in the history of the modern Middle East;

  • find primary sources on a given theme in the intellectual history of the modern Middle East in a corpus of sourcebooks, translated anthologies, and online collections;

  • know and apply different approaches to analyzing primary sources of intellectual and cultural history.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

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.

Assessment method

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.
Students must submit their papers and assignments through Brightspace, so that they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Partial Assessment Weighing
Class attendance and Participation 20%
Presentation 30%
Take-home exam with open questions 50%

The course is an integrated whole. The take-home exam and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


There is only a resit opportunity for the take-home exam, which will count for 50%.

Exam review

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

Reading list

  • A detailed syllabus with selected readings will be provided at the beginning of the term




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

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