War and Peace in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East and North Africa

Overview and aims

This module explores the international relations of the Middle East against the backdrop of the colonial, post-colonial and post-Arab Spring history of the region. You will engage with an emerging school of thought on the international relations of the region which uses explanatory tools from historical sociology as well as international relations, and hinges on a theory of systemic transformation. The module examines the bases of political and religious identities and the nature of contemporary political ideologies in order to develop an understanding of the impact of Islam, nationalism and wealth on the behaviour of both state and non-state actors in the region. The themes of conflict, regional stability, peace, cooperation, integration, and development are addressed. This module also critically analyses the foreign policies of the region’s states, their relations with each other, and key extra-regional actors.

The formal teaching provides a broad framework which introduces ideas and debates, but leaves you to pursue specific questions that you want to follow in your independent research. This is a broad and diverse region and by learning about the key issues, processes and contemporary analyses of the international relations of the region, you will be able to develop specialist knowledge in particular sub-regions or specific states.

Module content

This module explores aspects of international relations and domestic political, economic and socio-cultural processes for the following states: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Yemen.

Module topics

  • Empire and the Colonial Experience: post-Colonialism and Systemic Transformation
  • The Power of Political Faith: Islamism and Islamist Groups
  • Civil War in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen
  • Terrorism and the Rise of Extremist Groups
  • Cold Wars, Arms Races and Balances of Power
  • Authoritarianism and Democratisation

Learning outcomes

After studying this module you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the main themes, theories and concepts in International Relations pertaining to contemporary international security issues in the Middle East
  • demonstrate the ability to apply theory to practice in policy debates focusing on aspects of Middle Eastern international relations
  • critically analyse contemporary events, actors and processes, and explain aspects of the contemporary Middle East system that lead to insecurity
  • critically engage with the key questions and debates in security studies, international political economy and international relations covered by this module

This module will help you gain the skills and qualities to:

  • produce research-informed analyses of aspects of the contemporary international relations of the Middle East
  • independently conduct research by finding, critically assessing and using primary and secondary information
  • communicate and cooperate with other students as part of a cohort to contribute to original research

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