International Relations of the Middle East

This information is for the 2021/22 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) 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 online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. 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.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). In previous years we have been able to provide places for most students that apply, but that may not continue to be the case.


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.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas, Lent and Summer Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. 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 2 essays and 2 presentations in the MT and LT.

Seminar attendees will be expected to submit two 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:

  • Fawaz A. Gerges, Making the Arab World: Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash That Shaped the Middle East
  • F. Halliday, The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology
  • Madawi al-Rasheed, A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics and Religion in Saudi Arabia
  • Fawaz A. Gerges, The Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics
  • Louise Fawcett, International relations of the Middle East

In addition they are recommended to consult:

  • Nazih Ayubi, Over-stating the Arab State: politics and society in the Middle East
  • Lisa Anderson, ‘The State in the Middle East and North Africa’ Comparative Politics, October 1987
  • R Hinnebusch & A Ehteshami (Eds), The Foreign Policies of Middle East States
  • B Korany & A Dessouki (Eds), The Foreign Policies of Arab States
  • John Chalcraft, Popular Politics in the Making of the Middle East
  • Madawi al-Rasheed, Demystifying the Caliphate
  • Fanar Haddad, Sectarianism in Iraq: Antagonistic Visions of Unity
  • Fawaz A. Gerges (ed.), The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World
  • Z. Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 24.7
Merit 50.5
Pass 23.7
Fail 1

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2020/21: 36

Average class size 2020/21: 9

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information