From Palestine to Israel (UG)

Key information

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

Module overview

This module provides a historical overview of the Israel-Palestine conflict and examines its political, social and cultural reflections, from late Ottoman Palestine to the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Alongside the political history, the module will emphasise social and cultural aspects of the conflict. It will bring a variety of voices and perspectives, often contrasting and contradictory, on the conflict, its underlying causes and dynamics; these perspectives include not only the two “official” narratives, the Zionist-Israeli and the Palestinian, but also voices “from below” of marginalised groups.

Attention will be given to groups whose position does not fit easily with the official narratives. The module aims to give students analyitical tools that would help them make sense of the contested histories of Palestine/Israel. The ability to disentangle competing claims and narratives would be useful for analysing other contested histories. The module makes use of material history, art and visual media as means to analyse and understand the conflict

The module can be taken as an open option.


  • None

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Develop awareness of the challenges involved in approaching, in a scholarly manner, a contested history such as the Israel/Palestine conflict.
  • Familiarise themselves with different perspectives in the historiography on the Israel-Palestine conflict from 1900 to 1948.
  • Analyse critically prevailing historiographical approaches, regarding the colonial, settler-colonial, and national dimensions of the conflict.
  • Provide their own analysis of key issues in the history of the conflict, positioning themselves against the historiography while engaging with counter-arguments.
  • Become acquainted with different methodological approaches to the history of the conflict, including social, cultural and political history.
  • Position Israel/Palestine within larger frames of analysis, against regional and global trends.


The module is taught over 10 weeks in a two hour lecture each week.

Scope and syllabus

  • Introduction
  • Late Ottoman Palestine - roots of Arab nationalism
  • Early Zionism
  • Arabs and Zionists
  • The Balfour Declaration
  • British Mandate (Visit to British Museum)
  • Arab revolt
  • The Yishuv
  • Partition
  • The 1948 War

Method of assessment

  • 30% - Essay (1000 words) or Presentation (10 minutes)
  • 70% - Essay (1500 words)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

  • Büssow, Johann. 2011. Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1872-1908. BRILL., pp. 41-60
  • Gelvin, J.L., 2007. The Israel-Palestine conflict: one hundred years of war, Cambridge University Press, pp. 46-64.
  • Dolbee, Samuel, Shay Hazkani, and Menashe Meirovitch. 2015. “Impossible Is Not Ottoman": Menashe Meirovitch, ʿIsa Al-ʿIsa, and Imperial Citizenship in Palestine.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 47 (ii): 241–62.
  • Rhett, Maryanne A. 2015. The Global History of the Balfour Declaration: Declared Nation. Routledge. Chapter 2, 14-37.
  • Abu El-Haj, Nadia. 2001. Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 22-44.
  • Khalidi, Rashid. 2006. The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle For statehood. Boston: Beacon Press. Chapter 3, Pp 65-104, "A Failure of Leadership",
  • Almog, Oz. 2000. The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew. University of California Press. 23-32.
  • Penny Sinanglou, "Analogical Thinking and Partition in British Mandate Palestine" pp. 154-72.
  • in Dubnov, Arie, and Laura Robson, eds. 2018. Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Additional Reading

  • Gelvin, J.L., 2007. The Israel-Palestine conflict: one hundred years of war, Cambridge University Press.
  • Smith, C.D., 2009. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Khalidi, R. , 2006. The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Tamari, S., 2009. Mountain against the sea: essays on Palestinian society and culture, University of California Press.
  • Kimmerling, B. & Migdal, J.S., 2003. The Palestinian People: A History, Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  • Morris, B., 1999. Righteous victims : a history of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881-1999, New York: Knopf.
  • Shindler, C., 2008. A history of modern Israel, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.