SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Political Society in the Middle East

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 2

This module focuses on key issues in the study of politics in the Middle East. It deals with theoretical and empirical questions that are central to the field. The main questions pertain to forms of societal organisation and patterns to state-society interaction. To understand the modes of societal action, the module examines the bases upon which social and political forces are constituted, and the forms of power deployed in the interplay between state and societal actors. Integral to this examination is reflection on the analytical and conceptual tools used to understand and explain state-society relations. Concepts such as class, kin, tribe, sect, civil society, and informal politics are critically examined and assessed. The seminar takes a close look at the analytical assumptions underlying the main theoretical approaches to the study of the region, namely the political culture and political economy perspectives. It inquires into the methods of investigation used in these approaches.

This module is capped at 39 students.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On completion of the module students should have:

  • Familiarity with concepts and analytical tools applied to study Political Society in the Middle East
  • A deeper understanding of forms of societal organisation and modes of social and political action
  • An understanding of the processes involved in the constitution of social and political forces
  • Familiarity with sources of data on these issues and countries of the region
  • Awareness of the different perspectives and debates within the field of Middle East politics


  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assessment is 50% coursework (in the form of one 2500 word essay) and a 2 hour exam worth 50% - all coursework is resubmissable.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules