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International Relations of the Middle East (BA)


Admission requirements

This class is intended (in order of preference) for

  • (1) students of the BA Middle Eastern Studies who have successfully completed the propedeutic exam of the BA Middle Eastern Studies;

  • (2) premaster students for the MA Middle Eastern Studies and

  • (3) students from other relevant bachelors programmes (e.g. International Studies, Political Science, History). Please contact the coordinator of studies, Eli van Duijnen, to find out whether you can be admitted to this class.


The course offers an introduction to key themes in the international relations of the modern Middle East, covering the Arab states, Iran, Israel, and Turkey, and focusing on the period from 1945 to present. Discussions are driven by students, critically engaging with core concepts, primary sources, and academic literature. Themes explored include: Crystallization of the Regional State System; Regionalist Institutions and Transnational Challenges to Regional Order; Foreign Interventions and Arab Cold Wars; Regional Powers, Alliances and Hegemonic Bids; War-making in a Flammable Region; Arab-Israeli Peace-making.

Course objectives

  • To familiarize students with select themes, events, state and non-state actors, and processes that characterize the international relations of the modern Middle East

  • To develop advanced understanding and critical awareness of the key concepts, research debates, and theoretical frameworks relevant to the study of the region’s international relations.

  • To develop students’ capacity for analytical thinking through discussion contributions that demonstrate reasoned argumentation that is empirically founded.

  • To develop students’ research skills: to collect and select specialist literature using traditional and electronic methods; to analyze and evaluate this literature in terms of quality and reliability; to formulate a well-defined research problem based on this literature; and to make use of the acquired research skills outside one’s own discipline.

  • To develop students’ written and oral presentation skills: to explain research findings in a clear, structured, and well-argued manner; to express ideas in accordance with the basic standards of humanities scholarship, using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques, and aimed at a specific target group.

  • To develop students’ learning skills: to give and receive peer-feedback in a constructive fashion and use reasoned criticism to revise one’s own point of view or argumentation; to take on board lecturer instructions and feedback; be able to make a realistic schedule and keep to the agreed schedule and prioritisation.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The lecturer needs to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e., due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter). In these cases, it is at the discretion of the lecturer whether the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.
The course format is a combination of seminar discussions, based on weekly reading and viewing assignments, and student-presentations followed by group discussion and feedback.
Students should be aware that most of their work is done in preparation for the seminars. Class discussions offer the opportunity to exchange ideas about the readings, a space to think out-loud, and receive feedback for developing ideas.

Assessment method

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity.
Plagiarism will not be tolerated. It is assumed that students' work is their own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations). Students may not substantially reuse any work they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.
Assignment(s) must be submitted to Brightspace through Turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.


The course is assessed on the basis of the submission of of Final Assignment (recorded presentation) and Engagement across the semester (demonstrated through active participation in live seminar discussions and Brightspace discussion boards, submission of weekly reading-notes, and a news bulletin team-assignment).
The final mark for this course is determined by the weighted average. An additional requirement is that students must pass their Final Assignment. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher for their Final Assignment. The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.
Late submissions will result in a deduction of marks for the assignment as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Submissions more than 96 hs late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade of 1,0 for the assignment.
Students who submit the Final Assignment late, and without giving advance notice of extenuating circumstances, lose the privilege of feedback in the form of comments. They will receive a numerical mark only for their work.
A request for deadline extension must be submitted before the deadline, or else it will be considered as a request for an extra retake. If a deadline extension of up to 3 weeks is sought, students will contact their lecturer, who will consider the request and decide whether to grant it or refer it to the Board of Examiners. No form has to be used in this case. If an extension of over 3 weeks is sought, the student will submit their request on a form that can be obtained from the coordinator of studies.


Partial Assessment Weighing
Engagement 50%
Final assignment 50%


A resit is available only to students whose mark on the Final Assignment was insufficient (5.49 or lower). The re-sit date will be set at least five working-days after the ‘fail’ grade has been issued. The lecturer may decide to assign students a modified topic for the re-sit assignment. In such cases, the re-sit deadline will be set at least 10 working days after the ‘fail’ grade has been issued.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The syllabus will be posted on Brightspace two weeks before the start of the course. It is each student’s responsibility to log into the course page well in advance of the first seminar, read through the syllabus, and turn notifications on for the course to ensure they receive announcements posted by the instructor.
To receive notifications for a course on Brightspace, go to your profile in the upper right corner (click on your name), choose Notifications. Under Instant Notifications, check Announcements - new announcement and click Save.


  • Students who started the BA Middle Eastern Studies in 20-21: Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.

  • Students who started the BA Middle Eastern Studies before 20-21: please contact the coordinator of studies, Eli van Duijnen.

  • Premaster students starting in 22-23: will be enrolled by the Education Administration Office de Vrieshof. Further information on availability and the enrolment procedure will be provided by email in July.

  • Students from other programmes: on availability, please contact the coordinator of studies, Eli van Duijnen, after September, 1.