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Course 2019-2020 a.y.


All Programs
Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

BESS-CLES (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - BIG (6 credits - I sem. - OBS  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Suggested background knowledge

Basic knowledge of theories and concepts of political science.



Mission & Content Summary

This course is divided into two modules. The first aims at helping students gain a broad overview of Political Islam, while the second to understand salient political developments in the contemporary Middle East. It introduces major concepts and theories to explain Political Islam and Politics in the Middle East, and provides empirical knowledge of key countries. It also provides students with opportunities to improve their skills in conducting independent research, critically engaging with existing arguments and theories, and writing short essays.


First Module

Lecturer: Naila Shopia


This course addresses the nature and trajectory of political Islam. It aims to deepen our understanding about various aspects of this movement: understanding its root and expansion; understanding who Islamists are and what do they want. In particular, we will seek to understand the inherent nuances within this political ideology and how the specic features of national politics shape its character and behaviour in various countries within the Muslim world. A deep understanding about this issue enable students to analyse the complexities of this movement and the threat it could pose to the world governance.


Second Module

Lecturer: Marina Calculli


This course is intended as an introduction to Middle Eastern politics. It is organized along three core lines: first, it highlights how structural transformations and key international events – such as decline of empires and the rise of nation-states, WWII, the end of the Cold War, and 9/11 – have produced or transformed political and social organizations and institutions, political practices and forms of collective mobilization. Second, it discusses the role of ideas and ideologies in Middle East politics. It critically reviews how secular and religious ideologies have triggered the rise and fall of political actors, institutions and organizations. These include different forms of ethnic and religious nationalism, as well as Islamism and other political ideologies, such as communism, socialism, liberalism and neoliberalism. Third, the course pays attention to the interaction between power elites and societies, and the interplay between them in revolutions, conflicts and other critical junctures from the 19th to the 21st century.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...


  • Understand the concept and terminology of political Islam and Islamism.
  • Understand the root cause of Islamism, its trajectory, its actors, its rise and expansion.
  • Understand the variety of Islamist governance within the Muslim world.
  • Understand the nuances and complexities in the nature and behaviour of this movement around the world.
  • Critically analyze the impact of Islamism on the global governance.



  • Understand key aspects of Middle East politics from the 19th century to present.
  • Discuss the major political, economic and social transformations of politics in the contemporary Middle East.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Apply theories of political science to the study of Middle East politics.
  • Write essay papers.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures

Face-to-face lectures

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x  
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •   x  
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)
  • x    

    In order to evaluate the acquisition of the aforementioned learning outcomes, the assessment of attending students consists of two components:

    • Partial examinations (70% of the final grade) using both multiple-choice and open-ended questions to assess general knowledge of reading material and key topics and concepts discussed in class. We run two partial exams, one in the mid-term break to assess students on Module I, and a final exam to assess students on Module II of the course content (see section 1.b)
    • Individual essay assignment (30% of the final grade) of maximum 1500 words on Module II, answering 1 out of 3 essay questions uploaded on blackboard during the second half of the term. Students are required to use the reading material assigned, recognise links among arguments and topics discussed in class, and make an argument based on the evidence provided in the literature. Instructions on how to write a scientific paper will be uploaded on Blackboard. The assignment aims at helping students improve their skills in academic writing.

    General final exam (100% of the final grade) using a mix of open-ended and multiple-choice questions to assess students’ knowledge of reading material and capacity to summarize and critically discuss scholarly arguments.

    Teaching materials

    Required background reading

    Bruce Rubin, Political Islam, Vol. 3, New York: Routledge, 2007

    BEVERLEY, MILTON-EDWARDS, Contemporary Politics in the Middle East, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018.

    Other selected readings.


    Recommended background reading

    Mohammed Ayoob, The Many Faces of Political Islam, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008

    CLEVELAND, W. and BUNTON, M., History of the Modern Middle East. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2017 (5th or 6th Edition)

    Last change 21/05/2019 11:34