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Middle East in Global Politics: Islam, Conflict and Development (MSc)

Course Description

This Master's degree in politics will deepen your knowledge and understanding of the history and politics of the Middle East and Islam, while honing your ability to make well-informed, critical analyses of the region in the context of global politics. The programme has its theoretical foundations in international relations and political science, using these as tools to explore and analyse the region's domestic and international politics and current concerns, including sectarianism and persistent authoritarianism. Particular attention is given to the intersection between Islam, conflict and development. Recognising that Islam is at the centre of urgent discussions and disputes today, the programme looks into key issues including Muslim identity, religious extremism and violence, and the impact of American foreign policy in the region, including the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the ongoing conflict within Syria. The programme also uses interdisciplinary scholarship to help you make comprehensive, balanced analyses of contemporary Islam and the Middle East in relation to the UK and the world.

The core module explores the domestic political structures and international relations of countries in the Middle East. You can then choose to either study how ideas of ethnicity and nationalism generate identities as well as tension and conflict, or consider how theories and institutions of global governance have arisen in response to the impact of globalisation. You will be equipped with the conceptual ideas, theoretical approaches and analytical research skills needed to study politics at postgraduate level.

You go on to choose 2 option modules from a wide variety of topics including international security, American foreign policy, globalisation, political theory and sociology, nationalism and religion, and war and conflict. You will also learn research techniques that will enable you to specialise and undertake the researching and writing of a dissertation on the subject that interests you most.

Our Department of Politics is a lively and distinguished centre of interdisciplinary research, with a strong reputation for the quality of our teaching. Some of the world’s most famous libraries are on our doorstep in Bloomsbury, central London, and you can walk down to Whitehall, where Parliament and the UK’s most influential and important think-tanks and centres of political research and analysis are located.

Our departmental building was once a key location for members of the Bloomsbury Group, so you could be studying in rooms that have hosted distinguished visitors, including T. S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw and Maynard Keynes.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

This Master's degree is a unique course, offering insights into the history and politics of the Middle East and a balanced understanding of issues pertaining to Islam in the modern world.
The programme allows you to follow your own interests, with a wide choice of option modules, while developing your research skills and undertaking a dissertation in an area that interests you.
Our location in central London puts us at the heart of the UK’s political life and at the centre of academic London. You can walk down to Parliament and Whitehall, while Bloomsbury contains some of the world’s most famous libraries and centres of research.
You can take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including Senate House Library, which is right next door to Birkbeck, the British Library, which is 5 minutes’ walk away, and the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics, which is walkable from Birkbeck.
Our Department of Politics was ranked 12th in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) results and is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research.
The department organises a lively programme of seminars and conferences and is home to affiliated research centres, such as the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life, which run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.
Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, publishing and delivering stimulating teaching in a wide range of political topics including civil society and the state, public policy, development, gender, international security and terrorism, and social and political theory, among others.
Birkbeck Library has a large politics collection, including the major specialist journals, and provides you with access to an extensive range of online materials.

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Politics at Birkbeck was ranked 17th in the UK.

Visit the Middle East in Global Politics: Islam, Conflict and Development (MSc) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

Student Profiles

School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Bursary - Single Award

Applications are invited for one 'Postgraduate Taught' Bursary worth £6,000, to be awarded to a candidate with an outstanding academic record who shows high potential for strong performance on one of the School's 'Postgraduate Taught' programmes.This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the departments listed below; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This £6,000 award is in the form of a bursary (i.e., there is no 'fee waiver' but the bursary may be used towards payment of fees). If awarded to a part-time student, the bursary will be paid for two years of PGT study.Please note that in order to apply for funding you must also complete an application for a place at Birkbeck on an MA/MSc programme within the School of SSHP or the MPhil. Stud. in the Department of Philosophy, either before or at the same time as applying for funding.Prospective studentsCandidates will be expected to fulfil similar academic criteria to those demanded by external funding bodies. They will normally possess at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent.

Value of Scholarship(s)



This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This competition is open to new students only.

Application Procedure

Before you apply, you should contact the relevant department for advice.Once you have identified a relevant programme, you will need to:Apply online for the relevant MA/MSc or MPhil. Stud. (Dept. of Philosophy) degree in the normal wayDownload the SSHP Postgraduate Taught Bursary Application Form Word iconThe SSHP Studentship application form should be returned to Jane Halstead, Assistant School Manager, via the following email address:[email protected] STATE ‘PGT BURSARY’ AND DEPARTMENT APPLIED TO IN THE ‘SUBJECT’ LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL.Any queries relating to the PGT Bursary can also be sent to this email address.

Further Information



Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A good honours degree in humanities or social science, though other qualifications may be considered.If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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