The Emergence of Modern Iran: State, Society and Diplomacy

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Roham Alvandi E310


This course is available on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Please note that students taking this course cannot take GV4E7 Islamic Republic of Iran: Society, Politics, the Greater Middle East (H).

Course content

This course examines the emergence of modern Iran against the backdrop of Iran's political, social and diplomatic history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It covers three inter-related topics: the history of the modern Iranian state; the interaction between state and society in modern Iran; and Iran's diplomatic history. The course is divided into three sections. The first section examines the emergence of modern Iran from the remnants of the Persian Empire under the Qajars, with a particular focus on reform, revolution and Iran's encounter with European imperialism. The second section deals with the Pahlavi era and the attempts by both Pahlavi monarchs to strengthen the Iranian state while confronting social resistance at home and asserting Iran's power abroad. The third section deals with the origins of the Iranian revolution of 1978/79 and the transformation of the Iranian state under the Islamic Republic. Here we consider how war and peace shaped the domestic politics and foreign policy of revolutionary Iran, with a particular focus on US-Iran relations and the rise and fall of the reform movement.


22 hours of seminars in the MT. 22 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students are required to submit one 3,000 word essay in the Michaelmas Term. There will also be a mock exam (a one-hour timed essay) in the first of the two revision classes in the Summer Term

Indicative reading

Alvandi, Roham, Nixon, Kissinger, and the Shah: The United States and Iran in the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Ansari, Ali, The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Axworthy, Michael, Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic (London: Allen Lane, 2013).

Katouzian, Homa, The Persians: ancient, mediaeval and modern Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

Keddie, Nikki R., Modern Iran: roots and results of revolution, New Edition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006).


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2014/15: 15

Average class size 2014/15: 15

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information