Fall 2020 - IS 315 D100

Introduction to Middle East Politics (4)

Class Number: 5001

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • 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 Sykes-Picot agreement which shaped the national boundaries of the modern Middle East—and of the Balfour Declaration that framed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Indeed, the region has long been at the crossroads of global politics, including what has been tagged “the last great revolution,” Iran’s in 1979. The conflicts in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, the “Arab Spring” of 2011, and the events of 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.


  • Reports (2 x 1200 words, 20% each) 40%
  • Participation 10%
  • Take-home Exam 50%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com 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: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.


This course will be delivered via online platforms, such as Zoom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.

Students are required to have a computer, with a microphone, webcam, and speakers. They also must have good access to the Internet.

Microsoft Office is required, and a free version of Office 365 is available to SFU students here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.

Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



The Middle East. Ed. Ellen Lust. 15th ed. Sage-CQ Press, 2019 (pbk); ISBN: 9781506329284. E-book (2020); ISBN 9781544358239

Additional readings will be posted on Canvas.


Library Reserves

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

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html 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. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).