SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H247 Medieval Iran: Nomads, Settlers and Dynasts

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course will explore the impact which the nomadic peoples from the Eurasian Steppes had on western Asia during the mediaeval period from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. Iran and Afghanistan in particular were profoundly influenced politically, culturally and ethnically by the waves of invaders and settlers from the east and during the Il-Khanid period [1258-1335], these conquerors facilitated the forging of a close economic and cultural relationship between China itself and Iran.

This course will study the period of Saljuq domination and the advent and rule of the Mongols but will also consider other Turcoman dynasties and the rise of mamluks from slaves to rulers. In the light of recent events in the region, many parallels with this period of history can be drawn and the conquest and subjugation of Baghdad was as crucial for the Turks and Mongols as it has been for the Americans. The emphasis will be on Iran but other parts of western Asia will be considered during the course including the initial emergence of the Ottomans in Anatolia.

Weekly classes will be divided into one hour lectures followed by an hour long seminar which will centre on presentations prepared and delivered by students participating in the course. Three 2000 word essays will also be submitted.


  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Dept. administrator

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • To familiarise students with the cultural and political links between eastern and western Asia in the period concerned.
  • To foster the appreciation of the influence of the peoples of the Eurasian steppe on the settled lands of Persia and modern Afghanistan in particular.
  • To analyse the importance and development of certain important institutions of nomadic life in this time and period.

Method of assessment

Exam (60%) and 3 x Coursework (40%)

Suggested reading

  • A.K.S. Lambton, Continuity & Change in Mediaeval Persia, New York, 1988.
  • W. Barthold, Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion, London, 1968.
  • D.O. Morgan, Mediaeval Persia 1040-1797, London, 1988.
  • G. E. Lane, Early Mongol Rule in 13th Century Iran: a Persian Renaissance, Routledge Curzon, London, 2003;
  • Genghis Khan and Mongol Rule, Greenwood Publ.,Westport, CT, 2004.
  • The Cambridge History of Iran, V, ed. J.A. Boyle, Cambridge, 1968; & VI, ed. P. Jackson & L. Lockart, Cambridge, 1986.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules