SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H130 Introduction to the History of the Near and Middle East

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

Pathways: Islamic World; Near and Middle East; Third World. 

This module is designed to provide first-year students with a foundational overview of the history of the Near and Middle East from the emergence of Islam to the 20th century. It will introduce students to the main themes, problems and debates in the history of the region providing them with an empirical and interpretive foundation for more in-depth study of the region through Intermediate and Advanced level courses taken in the second and third years. After a brief introduction to the pre-Islamic historical framework the module will survey how social and political institutions have developed over the course of the last 1.400 years. In the first part of the course particular attention will be given to the emergence and spread of Islam, the development of
Islamic institutions and their evolution over time and geographical diffusion.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This course is designed to provide first year undergraduates with a foundational overview of the history of the Near and Middle East from the emergence of Islam to the 20th century. It will equip them with the main themes, problems, debates and types of sources relating to that history. Like the other first year regional introductory courses it will enable students to acquire the basic skills of historical interpretation, argument and evidence, along with the specific terms, geography, institutions and concepts particular to the NME region. These skills will be reinforced through individual and group library work, project research, essay writing, oral presentation and evaluation.

Method of assessment

Exam (worth 50%) , assignment 1 of 2,000 words (worth 20%) and assignment 2 of 2,500 words (worth 30%)

Suggested reading

  • Lapidus, I. A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge, 2002).
  • Kennedy, H. The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates. The Islamic Near East from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century (London, 1986).
  • Goffman, D. The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2002).
  • Hourani, A. History of the Arab Peoples (London, 1991).
  • Morgan, D. Medieval Persia (London, 1988).
  • Berkey, J. P. The formation of Islam: Religion and society in the Near East, 600-1800 (Cambridge, 2003).
  • Lewis, B. The Middle East, 2000 Years of History (London, 1995).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules