H130 Introduction to the Early History of the Middle East

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History

Module overview

This module is designed to provide first-year students with a foundational overview of the history of the Middle East from Antiquity and the emergence of Islam to the end of the Islamic Middle Period and the beginning of modernity.

Students will be introduced to the main themes, problems and debates in the history of the region, providing them with foundational knowledge and research skills for more in-depth study of the region at more advanced levels. Following an introduction to the political, social and religious contexts of Antiquity, the module will survey how societies in the region developed after the establishment of Islam as a new religious and political framework.

In the second part of the module, particular attention will be given to the development of Islamic institutions and their evolution over time and geographical diffusion, as well as the continuing role of non-Muslim minorities and the influences of “outsiders” such as Turks and Mongols.

Objectives and learning outcomes 

  • Have acquired an overview of the timelines and main events in the history of the Middle East from early times to the twentieth century and engage in debates about patterns of historical change and continuity in the region.
  • Read, think, and write critically about historiographical debates, concepts and terminologies.
  • To understand, analyse and interpret primary and secondary sources across the themes of the history of the Middle East.
  • To present clear, reasoned arguments in both oral and written form.

Method of assessment

  • Source Analysis (AS1) of 750 words - worth 30%.
  • Essay (AS2) of 2,000 words - worth 70%.

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