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History of Contemporary Iran


Admission requirements



Histories of contemporary Iran often discuss Iran’s interactions with Russia and the United Kingdom, the Constitutional Revolution, Iranian nationalism and the 1953 coup d’état, the White Revolution, the 1978-79 Iranian Revolution, the 1979 hostage crisis and the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88). Likewise, this course focuses on the established historical narratives of these events, as they were written down by acknowledged scholars in the field. Additionally, we critically review these narratives and learn about alternative viewpoints. Students learn that narratives of history are multiple and contested and that the study of history is an ongoing conversation. Students are invited to take part in this conversation by engaging with documentaries and films relevant to the history of contemporary Iran.

Course objectives

After the completion of this course, participants will able to:

  • Reproduce the basic facts about Iran’s contemporary history.

  • After the completion of this course, participants will able to analyze contemporary events and processes within their historical context.

  • Students will be able to critically engage with narratives of historical events.

  • Students will learn to reflect critically on how narratives about Iran’s present and past have political implications.

  • Students will learn to engage with different kinds of media, in particular audiovisual material, and to link these sources with the themes of the course and the course readings.

  • Students will be required to present material to the class in order to reflect upon, synthesise and reproduce content and ideas linked to the course themes.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Written midterm exam 20 %
Written final exam 40 %
Written assignments 40 %


The resit will consist of a written exam

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

The full reading list is available on Brightspace. All the course readings are available in the University’s library and/or the digital catalogue.

It is recommended to purchase the following book:

  • Ervand Abrahamian, A History of Modern Iran, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
    The electronic version of this book is also available at Library Catalogue.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

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

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


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

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


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