Politics and international relations in the Middle East display many of the characteristic features of the modern world. Contentious legacies of imperial map-making fuel frontier disputes and throw into question the legitimacy of the territorial nation state. Governments have been repeatedly challenged by populations tired of the old rationales for authoritarian rule and angered by its repressive effects. The politics of national identity, sometimes bound up with ideas of religious identity, have been given new urgency by class conflict, by military occupation and by the growth of the security state. Meanwhile, the long history of external intervention in the states of the region has heightened domestic and regional tensions.
The degree offers students an opportunity to study politics in the region through a number of disciplinary approaches, such as political sociology (class, gender, ethnicity and sect), comparative politics (state power, political economy of development, democratic openings and nationalism), and international politics (war, international political economy, regionalism and dependency). At the same time, it provides thematic courses that encourage students to look at political processes in the region from distinct perspectives, such as the study of political violence, the examination of the politics of resistance and the understanding of Islamic political ideologies and political movements.
At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students are expected to read extensively, to make a number of presentations and to engage actively in seminar discussions. They are also expected to write substantial papers, guided by their course tutors, but requiring significant independent work.
Courses are taught by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.
The MSc programme consists of three taught courses (corresponding to three examination papers) and a dissertation.
Most courses involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.
At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students make full-scale presentations for each unit that they take, and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.
A quarter of the work for the degree is given over to the writing of an adequately researched 10,000-word dissertation. Students are encouraged to take up topics which relate the study of a particular region to a body of theory.
- SOAS Library
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world.
The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.
SOAS MSc Middle East Politics students leave SOAS not only with a knowledge and understanding of the complex political and cultural issues of international politics, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers, both in business and in the public sector.
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