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Department of Politics and International Studies

MSc Middle East Politics

Duration: One calendar year (full-time) Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Overview

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Minimum Entry Requirements: The qualification for entry is normally a first or upper-second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Politics or International Relations, or a related social science discipline. Applicants without such a background may be considered for admission depending on their academic training and undergraduate performance.

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Politics and international relations in the Middle East display many of the characteristic features of the modern world. Contentious legacies of imperial map-making fuel frontier disputes and throw into question the legitimacy of the territorial nation state. Governments have been repeatedly challenged by populations tired of the old rationales for authoritarian rule and angered by its repressive effects. The politics of national identity, sometimes bound up with ideas of religious identity, have been given new urgency by class conflict, by military occupation and by the growth of the security state. Meanwhile, the long history of external intervention in the states of the region has heightened domestic and regional tensions.

The degree offers students an opportunity to study politics in the region through a number of disciplinary approaches, such as political sociology (class, gender, ethnicity and sect), comparative politics (state power, political economy of development, democratic openings and nationalism), and international politics (war, international political economy, regionalism and dependency).  At the same time, it provides thematic courses that encourage students to look at political processes in the region from distinct perspectives, such as the study of political violence, the examination of the politics of resistance and the understanding of Islamic political ideologies and political movements.

At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work.  Students are expected to read extensively, to make a number of presentations and to engage actively in seminar discussions.  They are also expected to write substantial papers, guided by their course tutors, but requiring significant independent work.

Structure

Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Students take taught courses to the value of 3 full units + dissertation:

1. TWO half units from list A (compulsory).
2-3. ONE or TWO full units (or equivalent) from list B; or ONE full unit (or equivalent) from list B and ONE full unit (or equivalent) from list C
4. Dissertation on some aspect of Middle East Politics (compulsory).

A. COMPULSORY- choose two half units, ONE in Term 1 and ONE in Term 2:
EITHER:
Combined with ONE of the following half-unit courses offered in Term 2:
OR:
Combined with ONE of the following half-unit courses offered in Term 1:
B. ONE or TWO full units (or the equivalent in half-units) from the following REGIONAL politics courses:
The following may only be chosen if they have not already been chosen under list A:
C. Up to ONE full unit (or the equivalent in half-units) from the following DISCIPLINARY politics courses:
COURSES offered in other departments:

Language courses: students should chose the language they wish to take from the list below. They should then make contact with the relevant Course Convenor during welcome week who will assess which level of course would be appropriate, and will advise re. changing course enrolments if necessary.

Language courses: students should chose the language they wish to take from the list below. They should then make contact with the relevant Course Convenor during welcome week who will assess which level of course would be appropriate, and will advise re. changing course enrolments if necessary.
Courses focused on the Middle East in a cognate discipline:
D. Dissertation- this would focus on an aspect of Middle East Politics:

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Courses are taught by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.

The MSc programme consists of three taught courses (corresponding to three examination papers) and a dissertation.

Lectures

Most courses involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.

Seminars

At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students make full-scale presentations for each unit that they take, and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.

Dissertation

A quarter of the work for the degree is given over to the writing of an adequately researched 10,000-word dissertation. Students are encouraged to take up topics which relate the study of a particular region to a body of theory.

Learning Resources

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world.

The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Destinations

SOAS MSc Middle East Politics students leave SOAS not only with a knowledge and understanding of the complex political and cultural issues of international politics, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers, both in business and in the public sector.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

The MSc in Middle East Politics allowed me to take both Politics courses and a language option, all of which I enjoyed. The lecturers were fantastic! My favourite class was Politics of Resistance in the Middle East which was clearly helpful for understanding contemporary politics of the region.

Judith Nubold