SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H160 The Middle East in the Modern World

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 2

This module is an introduction to the history of the early modern and modern era Middle East. It begins roughly around the time when Islamic empires became the dominant powers of the region and explores thenceforth the political, social and cultural developments up to the present. While the module is structured around events that are primarily of military and political nature, it gives ample importance to the broad social and cultural currents, as well as the circumstances of the everyday life as shaped by the former. Throughout the semester, we will also (re)visit, question, and complicate some of the main concepts and debates, such as modernity and the decline thesis, that has informed the field in the past decades.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

LO1. - gain a broad understanding and knowledge of the key issues and events in the moder history of the Middle East;
LO2. - engage critically with historiographical concepts and debates;
LO3. - understand, analyse and critically interpret relevant primary and secondary sources;
LO4. - write well researched and supported,clearly structured and persuasively argued essays.

Scope and syllabus

1 — What is “modern” after all?
2 — The ‘Magnificent Century’: Gunpowder Empires
3 — Balkans to Bengal: Islamic Empire and Global Geopolitics
4 — Diversity and mobility in the early modern Middle East
5 — Decline or Transformation? Islamic Empire in the 17th and 18th
6 — All Change: Reform and Empire in the ‘long’ 19th century
7— Remaking the Middle East I: World War I and Colonialism
8 — Remaking the Middle East II: Nationalism
9 — The Middle East as we (think we) know it: Independence and Revolution
10 — Outlook: Historical Tendencies and the Middle East in the 21st Century

Method of assessment

  • Source Analysis (AS1) of 1,000 words - worth 30%
  • Essay (AS2) of 2,500 words - worth 70%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules