Summer 2019 - IS 315 D100

Introduction to Middle East Politics (4)

Class Number: 5397

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2019: Wed, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Introduces the political, economic, and ideological dynamics of contemporary Middle Eastern states. Examines the legacy of colonialism, state formation, central ideological trends such as Arab nationalism and political Islam, the dynamics of state-society contention, and the challenges of economic development.


We recently observed the centennial of the Balfour Declaration that framed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — and of the Sykes-Picot agreement which shaped the national boundaries of the modern Middle East. Indeed, the region has since been at the crossroads of global politics, including what has been tagged “the last great revolution,” Iran’s in 1979. More recent events such as the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the “Arab Spring” of 2011, and September 11, 2001 and its aftermath, have kept the region at the forefront of international affairs.

Do oil and religion explain the region’s modern history and politics? What was the nationalist legacy of the Middle East’s long encounter with the West and the Ottoman Empire? Are Middle Eastern cultures resistant to individual human rights and civil society, as often suggested by scholars and journalists alike? These questions will receive our close attention, as part of a broad appraisal of the social and political dynamics of the Middle East today. Multimedia resources beyond the prescribed texts — including film, cyber-culture, and literary works — will inform our sessions in class and on Canvas.  


  • Reports 30%
  • Participation 10%
  • Presentation 20%
  • Take-home Exam 40%


Active participation is expected in all sessions. Two response reports (1000 words each), and a group presentation to the class are required, along with a final exam.

Students will be required to submit their written assignments to in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at:



The Middle East. Ed. Ellen Lust. 14th ed. Sage-CQ Press, 2016 (pbk).
ISBN: 9781506329284.

Additional readings will be posted on Canvas.


Belzberg Library Reserves
• The Modern Middle East: A Social and Cultural History. Ilan Pappé. 3rded. Routledge, 2014.
• Civil Society in the Muslim World. Ed. Amyn B. Sajoo. I.B. Tauris, 2004.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.