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The Making of the Modern Middle East (1870 - 1940) (ResMA)


Admission requirements

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


The making of the modern Middle East (roughly from 1870s to 1930s) constitutes a complex period in world history. This course will provide a historical sociology of the Middle East by scrutinizing the comparative and connected history of contentious politics in the transitional period from empires to nation-states. The combined impact of macro violence in form of empire, revolution, war, and genocide as well as forces of colonialism, nationalism, and modernism are at the center of this period of change. This course will, first, discuss resistance against European colonialism and policies of imperial state-building and modernization in the Middle East. Second, the course will trace and compare the development of contentious politics in the Ottoman Empire, Khedivate of Egypt, and Qajar Iran at the turn of the century. Third, the course will provide a transnational history of the period of war and revolution before, during, and after the First World War, 1905-1925. Finally, the course will illustrate distinct paths of national and colonial state formation and modernization in the Middle East throughout the 1920s and 1930s. By embracing a new brand of scholarship that looks at agents of violence, subaltern movements, and cultures of resistance in transnational history, this course will attempt to offer a rereading of the making of the modern Middle East.

Course objectives

At the end of the semester, students will be able to:

  • critically evaluate the current developments and paradigms in the state of scholarship on the history of the Middle East in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century;

  • find primary sources on various themes of the modern Middle East in European and local languages in the university library and in online-available resources;

  • design a historical-sociological framework in studying empire, resistance, revolution, war, and genocide as well as nation-building and state-formation;

  • conduct original research based on an evaluation of scholarship, application of theory and methodology, and use of primary sources;

  • report on research findings both orally and in writing, in accordance with the basic standards of scholarship.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

The deadline in MyTimetable is set for administrative purposes only. The actual date(s) will be communicated by the lecturer(s) in Brightspace.

Mode of instruction


Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to 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 can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

Academic integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.

Students must submit their assignment(s) to Brightspace through Turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

ChatGPT: What is possible and what is allowed? Dos and Don'ts.

Assessment and weighing

Partial assessment Weighing
Participation 15%
Presentation and assignments 25%
5,000-word essay (term paper) 60%

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

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.

Term Paper

Students are free to formulate a research topic that is related to the themes and time frame encompassed in this course on Middle East history from the late-nineteenth century to the early-twentieth century. The research paper must use one of the proper academic citation systems (Chicago style notes-bibliography preferred) and it must be authentic. The paper must conform to the designated limit of 5,000 words. Plagiarism will be checked and automatically means failing the class.

The term paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.

Students must complete the assignment(s) on time 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.


Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower) and the insufficient grade is the result of an insufficient paper, a resit of the paper is possible (60%). In that case the convener of the course may assign a (new) topic and give a new deadline.

A resit of the other partial assessments is not possible.

Inspection and feedback

Feedback will be supplied primarily through Brightspace. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the assessment results, a review will be organized.

Reading list

A list of weekly articles will be made available after the first session.

Students who lack background knowledge in Middle East history are recommended to have read chapters 1-6 of Betty S. Anderson, A History of the Modern Middle East: Rulers, Rebels, and Rogues (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016) by way of preparation for the course.

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


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.