Spring 2022 - IS 315 D200

Introduction to Middle East Politics (4)

Class Number: 8123

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    HCC 2510, Vancouver

  • 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.


This course surveys the politics of the MENA region in historical perspective.  Classes address the legacy of colonialism, the Israel/Palestine conflict, state building, Arab nationalism, Islamism, oil, political economy, the Cold War, women’s rights, authoritarianism, and popular protest. The course studies countries across the MENA region, including Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Algeria. It will provide a foundation for future scholarship on the MENA and offer comparative perspective on political dynamics in other regions of the world.


Through this course, students will a) gain understanding of key dynamics in the politics of the contemporary MENA; b) develop appreciation for how states, political actors, and ideological trends in the MENA have changed over time; and c) improve their analytical, reading, and writing skills through the study of scholarly writings and primary sources from the MENA.  


  • Attendance and participation 10%
  • Map quiz 5%
  • In-class presentation (5 min) 5%
  • Reading analysis (750 words) 15%
  • Primary source analysis (750 words) 15%
  • Essay (2000 words) 25%
  • Final Exam (take home) 25%


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.



James Gelvin, “Defensive Developmentalism” and “State Building by Decree,” chap. 5 and chap. 11 in The Modern Middle East: A History, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

Islahat Fermani, in Gelvin, Modern Middle East, p. 161-164

Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, in The Modern Middle East and North Africa: A History in Documents, ed. Julia Clancy-Smith and Charles Smith, p. 113-116

Sykes-Picot Agreement, in The Modern Middle East and North Africa: A History in Documents, p. 116-117

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 spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.