SOAS University of London

Academic Summer School at SOAS

The Middle East in Global Politics (2020 entry)

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Due to the situation surrounding Covid-19, we are currently looking into alternative options for teaching our programme this year. Full details will be announced soon, but in the meantime please get in touch with any questions you may have.

Programme Description 

What do we mean by the Middle East – east of where, and why? How should we go about studying the political aspirations and agency of almost half a billion people? To what extent are their fates tied to great power politics, and how can we account for phenomena of cooperation and solidarity in their regional affairs? Can we draw a clear line between the local and the global in Middle East politics?

This course will help students deliberate all these questions, by placing the modern Middle East in its global context, without losing sight of local and regional dynamics, cultures, and political traditions. We will explore histories of empire and decolonisation, alongside themes of hegemony and resistance, conflict and cooperation, identity and foreign policy. The course is informed by critical engagement with theories of international relations.

For more information, please see the course handbook:  The Middle East in Global Politics Handbook (pdf; 102kb)  

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity and critical engagement with the theories of international relations and foreign policy analysis relevant to themes in Middle East regional and international politics;
  • Demonstrate a strong grasp of the history of the region since its emergence as a modern state system at the turn of the last century;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the relevant theoretical debates and empirical cases pertaining to issues of Middle East regional and international politics;
  • Marshal empirical evidence in argument-driven presentations in class
  • Edit and evaluate Wikipedia entries on a topic relevant to the module.

We hope students will be inspired to continue with further study or interest in the Middle East on completion of the course.


This course is worth 15 credits in the UK system. 15 credits is equivalent to 4 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution.

Current SOAS students selecting this course as an open option module will not be charged the tuition-fee. For further information and assistance, please contact

The course itself and the lecturers have been amazing. The syllabus has widened my horizons and I made good friends. It has also helped me decide which part of history I should follow in my future studies (possibly at SOAS!)" - Theo (The Middle East in Global Politics, 2019)


For more information, please fill out our enquiries form

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: 29 June – 17 July 2020

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

Featured events

3 weeks

Tuition Fees 2020

Credit assessed: £1,750

Non-assessed: £1,600



Programme structure:


1. Introduction: What is the Middle East?
2. Empire and the Middle East State System
3. Postcolonialism and Critical Political Economy
4. Decolonisation and the Cold War
5. Anticolonial Resistance


6. American Empire in the Middle East
7. International Political Economy in the Middle East
8. Pan-Arabism and Pan-Islamism
9. Egypt in Global Politics
10. The Gulf in Global Politics
11. Israel/Palestine in Historical Context
12. Israel/Palestine after the Oslo Accords
13. Turkey in Global Politics
14. Iran in Global Politics


15. Origins of the Arab Uprisings
16. Fortunes of the Arab Uprisings (1): Egypt
17. Fortunes of the Arab Uprisings (2): Yemen
18. Fortunes of the Arab Uprisings (3): Syria
19. Fortunes of the Arab Uprisings (4): Tunisia

In addition to classroom-based lectures and tutorials, students will attend a range of activities and field trips that support and contribute towards the core learning outcomes and objectives.The activities are designed to enhance learning outcomes, and to foster rapport within the classroom, forming some of the highlights of the course. 

Additional Activities

The unique and vibrant cultural landscape of London provides the perfect setting for the activities that complement this course. In recent years, these have included a guided tour of the Mosaic Rooms Gallery and QnA with the Director, a guided tour of the British Museum’s Islamic Art Gallery and QnA with its lead Curator, film screenings followed by discussion, and seminars delivered by human rights practitioners and democracy activists from the Middle East. Last year a new digital learning element was introduced, in which students collaborated on editing and evaluating Wikipedia entries on topics covered in the course. The activities are designed to enhance learning outcomes, and to foster rapport within the classroom, forming some of the highlights of the course. Activities’ precise times and venues are confirmed in the month prior to the start of the course.

Reading Materials
  • Chalcraft, J. Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  • Cleveland, W. and M. Bunton. A History of the Modern Middle East, 5th edition. Boulder: Westview Press, 2012.
  • Fawcett, L. International Relations of the Middle East, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Halliday, F. Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics, and Ideology, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Hinnebusch, R. The International Politics of the Middle East, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014.
  • Hinnebusch, R. and A. Ehteshami eds., The Foreign Policies of Middle East States, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2014.
  • Lockman, Zachary, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism. Cambridge, 2004.
  • Piscatori, James, and Eickelman, Dale, Muslim Politics, Princeton, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1996.
  • Owen, Roger. State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East. London: Routledge 2004.

Useful journals for up-to-date articles include:

  • British Journal of Middle East Studies
  • International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • Arab Studies Journal
  • Review of Middle East Studies
  • Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Middle East Journal

For Middle East politics, the following electronic resources are useful:

Jadaliyya e-zine

Middle East Report

Middle East Studies Association homepage

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies homepage

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Course Convenor:

Dr Reem Abou-El-Fadl

Reem is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics of the Middle East at SOAS University of London, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She previously taught at Durham University and St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.Her research examines nationalism and foreign policy in Turkey and Egypt, and the politics of solidarity and nationalism in Egypt, comparing the Nasser and Sadat periods. She is the author of Foreign Policy as Nation Making: Turkey and Egypt in the Cold War (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and editor of Revolutionary Egypt: Connecting Domestic and International Struggles (Routledge, 2015). She is also co-editor of the Egypt page at Jadaliyya, the academic e-zine of the Arab Studies Institute. Her work has appeared in the Journal of World History, Nations and Nationalism, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Palestine Studies, and the International Journal of Transitional Justice.

Contact hours:

50 hours (lectures, tutorials, activities). The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 3 weeks.

Core hours:

Monday - Friday, 10am-3pm. In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course is composed of a range of activities relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc). 


Assessment will be in the form of a 2500 word essay to be handed in two weeks after the end of the course.

If you have opted to study for credit, you will be required to complete all course assessments. Should you complete the assessments with success, you will receive a transcript confirming your marks and credits. If you have chosen not to study for credit, you will be exempt from any course assignments and not receive a mark. 

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Credit-assessed: £1,750

Non-assessed: £1,600

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £40 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.


10% early-bird discount when you apply by 31 March

10% discount if you apply for two courses over 6 weeks

15% discount for SOAS Alumni (including Academic Summer School alumni)

20% discount for our partner institutions

Other discounts are available for groups. Please contact us for more information.


For more information, please see our accommodation page.

Academic Summer School Ambassador Scholarship 2020

The SOAS Academic Summer School is delighted to offer six tuition-fee waiver scholarships to passionate students with a desire to make a difference in the world.

The scholarships will cover the tuition-fee for one Academic Summer School course in 2020. 

Application Deadline: 2020-03-13 00:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


How to Apply

Apply now to secure your place on the Academic Summer School.

Once you have paid the £40 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Please see our Ambassador Scholarship page for details regarding scholarship application.

Application Deadline

Applications for the Academic Summer School close on 25th May 2020.

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