Spring 2023 - IS 315 D100

Introduction to Middle East Politics (4)

Class Number: 4991

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Thu, 11:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 14, 2023
    Fri, 12:00–3:00 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 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, this region has long been at the crossroads of global politics, including conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen & Libya as part of the “Arab Spring” of 2011-2, the events of Sept 11, 2001 and its aftermath — and what has been tagged “the last great revolution,” Iran’s in 1979, the effects of which continue to unfold today.

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.


  • Review Essay 30%
  • Presentation & Participation 30%
  • Final Exam 40%


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.



The Middle East. Ed. Ellen Lust. 15th ed. Sage-CQ Press, 2019 (pbk); ISBN: 978-1544334790. E-book (2020); ISBN 9781544358239.

Additional readings posted on Canvas.


Supplements {SFU Library}
Global Middle East: Into the Twenty-First Century. Eds. Bayat-Herrera. Univ of California, 2021; e-book available.
The Modern Middle East: A Social and Cultural History. Ilan Pappé. 3rded. Routledge, 2014; e-book available.
• Civil Society in the Muslim World. Ed. Amyn B. Sajoo. I.B. Tauris, 2004.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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