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History of Contemporary Iran


Admission requirements



This seminar examines the contemporary history of Iran familiarizing students with the political, social, economic, cultural, and religious developments taking place from the mid-18th century onwards. It will explore a number of both historiographical and theoretical questions related to the study of Iran. Key topics include: the Qajar Dynasty and Iran’s encounter with European imperialisms, the establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty, the coup d’état against Prime Minister Mossadegh, the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, the Reform Movement and beyond. We will also consider the impact of the Green Revolution and Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East. While the readings are arranged chronologically, the last few meetings are devoted to studying important issues that are central for the understanding of contemporary Iran. Questions of theory and method will be dealt with throughout the semester.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to offer student an overview of developments in contemporary Iran, by placing them in their historical, political and religious contexts.

Time table

Time table

Mode of instruction

Seminar with mandatory attendance.

Course load

Lectures: 13 × 2 = 26 hrs
Preparation: 40 hrs
Midterm: 30 hrs
Paper: 44 hrs

Assessment method

Each student will be graded on performance in three categories:
1. Participation 10%,
2. Midterm 25%
3. Discussion sections 30%,
4. Final Paper 35%.

The final mark is composed of 1, 2, 3 and 4.
The 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.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an an overall mark of “6” or higher.

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

Reading list

Abrahamian, Ervand, A History of Modern Iran , New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. ISBN: 978-0521528917
(and other selected readings)



Contact information

Dr. T. Nalbantian


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 accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned 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).