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International Political Economy of the Middle East


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies, MA Middle Eastern Studies (research), or MA in International Studies. Students who are not admitted to one of these programs should contact the course convener.


This course analyses the Middle East in the Global Political Economy. Overall, it surveys the field of global/international political economy and examines the interactions of the Middle East within the global economic order. It seeks to familiarise students with the various roles of commodities, labour, and finance across the region. In so doing, it not only examines that which is unique about the IPE of the region but also the ways in which the region is more integrated and less exceptional than often purported. The course begins with a theoretical orientation to the field of IPE, and proceeds to situate the region within the field in historical and contemporary debates. The remainder of the course progresses thematically, examining topics such as oil and energy markets, trade, financial crisis, labour, global value chains, and integration.

Course objectives

  • Understand the broad theoretical debates within the field of Global Political Economy

  • Evaluate the role of various Middle Eastern states in the GPE

  • Assess the impact of oil on the region

  • Deepen understanding of the various economic challenges and opportunities facing the region, considering historical and potential future trajectories

  • Articulate how changes in the global economic order and technological innovation impact domestic, regional, and international economic development

  • Discuss historical and contemporary trends in the Middle East, and the region’s interactions with the global economic order

  • Analyse the impact of state and non-state actors on domestic and regional development

  • Interpret the constraints, challenges, and prospects for greater economic integration



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

EC: 10 (= 280 hours)

  • Attending seminars: 30 hours

  • Reading / studying material: 125 hours

  • Completing assignments: 125 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and grading method (in percentages):



I. Engagement 25% (Ongoing)
a. Active participation (15%) (Ongoing)
b. Rapporteur presentation and handout (10%) (Choice of weeks)

II. Response Papers 30% (Choice of weeks)

III. Presentation 15% (Choice of weeks)

IV. Final paper 30% (Due in final exam period)


I. Engagement
a. Active participation and preparedness: Students are expected to attend and participate in course discussions. Since this is a seminar, thoughtful engagement is central to the course’s success. Students are therefore required to complete all readings in advance as well as attend all seminars.
b. Rapporteur Presentation and Handout At the start of each class, a student will present a 5 to 10 minute summary of the discussion of the preceding seminar as well as distribute a one page rapporteur report. The report should include key points and debates engaged during the seminar. A sign-up sheet will be available in the first class. The report should be uploaded to Blackboard two days before the student presents in order to allow classmates time to view the notes.

II. Response Papers
Students are to write two short response papers in response to the readings of two separate weeks. Students must choose the week they will write about from weeks 3-10. The paper must be submitted in hard copy and on Blackboard before the class begins which covers those readings. Otherwise the paper will not be accepted. There are no exceptions. Papers must be between 600 and 800 words (no more than one, double-sided page). Papers should demonstrate an understanding of the all the readings from that week and present an argument based on their interpretation of the readings. Please note that this is an analytical rather than a descriptive exercise. Do not summarize! No additional sources are required.

III. Presentation
Each students will deliver a presentation during the seminar on the topic of the week. A sign-up sheet will be available the first week of class. Students will develop an argument based on the readings from the week, and conduct some external research to find a case study (this can be an isolated incident or country experience) to use as evidence for the argument. Students will circulate an abstract (200-300 words) of the presentation at least two days prior to the class by uploading it to blackboard. Presentations should be no more than 10-15 minutes in length, to leave ample time for discussion afterward. Students will be graded on presentation delivery, content, clarity of argument, ability to hold attention and stimulate discussion.

IV. Final Paper
Students will choose from among the thematic topics covered in the course and develop an original research paper on a question related to that theme. All paper topics must be approved by the professor by the sixth lecture. The paper should be between 3000 and 3500 words, contain a clear introduction, argument, and sufficient evidence to support the argument. This is a research paper and therefore requires external, and particularly peer-reviewed, sources. Papers should be clear and succinct, with an unambiguous thesis on the first page. Paper should be submitted on blackboard by their due date (TBD) Late papers will lose 5% per day, and will not be accepted more than 5 days after the due date, including weekends.

Note: All essay assignments should be 1.5 spacing, with a standard font size (e.g. 12 pt Times New Roman or 10 pt Arial). Students should not go over the maximum word limit and should not adjust page margins. Students should use a consistent referencing style throughout their paper. Chicago Manual of Style with footnotes is preferred.

Note 2: The final 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.

Note 3: Students must complete the assignment on time. No paper will be accepted more than 5 days after the due date.


Blackboard is used for submission of assignments and for uploading assignment material to share with classmates.

Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.

Reading material:


  • Fred Halliday, The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics, and Ideology. Cambridge University Press, 2005 – TBA


  • Articles and book chapters can be found on the library catalogue or on the course Blackboard page.

All reading materials must be read in advance of class. Students should arrive at class having examined the material thoroughly, and therefore ready to engage thoughtfully in seminar discussions.

  1. Analysing the International Political Economy

  2. Situating the Middle East in the IPE: Beyond Exceptionalism

  3. Globalization: Forces, Trends, and Development

  4. Colonial Legacies and Interactions in the Global Economy

  5. Hydrocarbons and Energy Markets

  6. Production and Power: Global Value Chains

  7. The Political Economy of Labour Flows and Migration

  8. Trade and Finance: From FDI to SWF

  9. Business Politics: State, Society, and Region

  10. Global Institutions: IFIs and Private Consultancies

  11. Integration and Regionalism

  12. Dealing with Crises: Financial Crisis and Political Upheaval

Recommended Reading:

Sugata Bose. A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire. Harvard University Press. 2006

Andrew Walter and Gautam Sen. Analyzing the Global Political Economy. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009

Matteo Legrenzi and Bessma Momani (eds). Shifting Geo-Economic Power of the Gulf: Oil Finance and Institutions. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 2011

Steffen Hertog, Giacomo Luciani, Marc Valeri (eds). Business Politics in the Middle East. Hurst and Company, 2014


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

(Studeren à la carte is not possible for this course.)


The best way to communicate with me is during office hours or via email. I will respond to emails within 2 business days. Please note that this means inquiries about an assignment the day before the due date will not guarantee a response before the due date.

Any matters beyond short questions should be addressed during my office hours or by appointment.




Students are advised to familiarize themselves with Leiden University’s policies on plagiarism:

Violations of academic integrity will be met with severe penalties.



  • Students are expected to attend all seminars, and can be penalized should they have an unreasonable number of absences throughout the semester.

  • Students should arrive to class early. If late, they should not enter the class until the break.


  • All written assignments should be 1.5 spaced, with a standard font size (e.g. 12 pt Times New Roman or 10 pt Arial). Students should not go over the maximum word/page limit and should not adjust page margins.

  • Students must use one reference style accurately and consistently throughout their assignments. Chicago Manual of Style with footnotes is strongly recommended.

  • Late assignments will be penalized 5% per day, including weekends.

  • No assignment will be accepted more than five days after the due date unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor. Extensions are granted at the sole discretion of the instructor. Students are advised to back up their work and complete their assignments in advance. Technical difficulties and random last minute mayhem will not be accepted as valid excuses for extension.

  • Plagiarism is a serious offense and could result in a failing grade for the assignment and/or the course as well as disciplinary action by the department or the University. At this stage, students are expected to know how to source appropriately. As well, they should neither present someone else’s work as their own nor submit papers that are significantly similar in more than one course. Students should familiarize themselves with the University’s policies on plagiarism. Should they have questions or concerns about what may constitute a violation of academic integrity, they should speak with the instructor.


  • Cell phones and other mobile devices must be off or on silent mode throughout the entire class period.

  • Laptops and tablets will be permitted in the class during lectures only for the purpose of taking notes.