Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

This module aims at providing a basic knowledge of the main predicaments facing development in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA, encompassing all members of the League of Arab States, with Iran and Turkey for comparative purposes). It follows the sequence of historical development: an assessment of the key features of pre-industrial society in the area and of the impact of European imperial domination sets the scene for contrasting responses to the challenge of modernity in the 20th century. The major ideological undercurrents produced by this confrontation are examined: adaptation to vs. rejection of ‘Western’ modernity within Islam; the rise of populist nationalism and the ‘socialist’ radicalisation of ‘developmentalist’ regimes. Against the background of the ‘oil shocks’, MENA experienced economic liberalisation, with limited political liberalisation occasionally. The post-Cold War U.S. war drive turned the region into the central arena of the so-called ‘clash of civilisations’. The region’s overall anaemic long-term growth performance—except Turkey—points to massive structural problems that constitute the main factors in the Arab uprising that unfolded in 2011. The dynamics of this ongoing regional upheaval will be thoroughly examined.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


At the end of this module, students should be familiar with the complexity of the MENA region and its many peculiarities and able to:

  • Investigate the historical roots of the region’s developmental problems
  • Assess the relevance of cultural explanations
  • Ponder the relative weight of endogenous and exogenous hindrances to development
  • Identify and analyse  the  region’s  major political currents  and their attitudes toward  development issues
  • Evaluate the main problems facing economic growth and social modernisation in the region
  • Understand the complexities of the regional upheaval that started unfolding in 2011.




Teaching takes place through a weekly 1 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial.


Method of assessment

100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay worth 70% of the final grade and a book review worth 30% of the final grade. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules