International Relations of the Middle East

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Fawaz Gerges CBG.10.03


This course is available on the MSc in Global Politics, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in International Relations Theory 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.

The course is intended primarily for students on programmes run by the Department of International Relations (IR). Students on the MSc in Comparative Politics and MSc in Global Politics may take the course, but this is subject to students demonstrating that they have a grasp of International Relations theory, or have made efforts to cover this ground before starting the course.

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the Student Statement box on the online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed; students external to the IR department must clearly outline the extent to which they are familiar with IR theory/ efforts they will make to familiarise themselves with this area before the course begins.


A knowledge of the international political system, of the major issues in its contemporary development, and at least a basic understanding of core International Relations theory, is required. Background in IR and/or political science and/or history is a prerequisite.

Course content

The course is intended to provide an analysis of the regional politics of the Middle East since 1918, and of their interaction with problems of international security, global resources and great power/super power/hyperpower politics.

Topics covered include: The emergence of the state system in the Middle East during the inter-war period; the interplay of domestic politics, regional conflicts and international rivalries; the Cold War and post-Cold War significance of the Middle East in global politics; the importance of oil and other economic factors and interests; conflict in the Gulf and the Arab-Israeli conflict; the foreign policies of major Middle Eastern states and the Lebanese civil war; the role of ideologies and social movements: Arab nationalism, militarism, political Islam and global jihadism; state and non-state actors; democracy and human rights issues,  the Arab Spring uprisings; and international relations theory and its significance for the study of Middle East politics.


10 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 3 essays and 2 presentations in the MT and LT.

Seminar attendees will be expected to submit three 2,500-word essays, based on past examination papers, to be marked by their seminar teacher,  and to give presentations in both the MT and LT. 

Indicative reading

Students are strongly advised to read before the beginning of the course:

  • F. Halliday, The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology; 
  • Fawaz A. Gerges, The Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics; 
  • M.E. Yapp, The Near East Since the First World War;
  • Fawaz A. Gerges, Making the Arab World: Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash That Shaped the Middle East;  and
  • Z. Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism

In addition they are recommended to consult: 

  • R Hinnebusch & A Ehteshami (Eds), The Foreign Policies of Middle East States;
  • B Korany & A Dessouki (Eds), The Foreign Policies of Arab States; and
  • Fawaz A. Gerges (ed.), The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 15.5
Merit 55.3
Pass 26.2
Fail 2.9

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2018/19: 35

Average class size 2018/19: 17

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information