31709 - International Relations of the Middle East

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Francesca Biancani

  • Credits 8

  • SSD SPS/14

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Forli

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs (cod. 9247)

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing students with an overview of the system of international relations in of the Middle East. At the end of the course students will be knowledgeble about the main issues and problems of MENA Internatioanal Relations Studies: main factors in State and Nation building processes in the area (identity, religion, natural resources); the main regional conflicts and their interaction with global conflicts such as the Cold War, or the global war on terror; roots of domestic political instability in the region, in both Middle Eastern secular republics and theocratic Gulf States, and their impact on regional confictuality and international relations.

Course contents

The course is organized in lectures and seminars, as detailed in the following program. Lectures (16 hours in remote on MS TEAMS) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Seminars (12 hours) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. For the seminar section of the course, students will be divided in two groups according to their preferences and according to rules concerning the current pandemic emergency: one group will do the seminar in classroom (12 hours) and another group will do the seminar remotely on MS TEAMS (12 hours), for a total of 28 hours for each student. Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the session and - in the case of seminars - active participation through presentations of existing scholarship and case studies will also be expected. Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS.


Week 1- Lecture 1- International Relations, Area Studies and the Middle East. Lecture 2- The Making of Foreign Policy: State and Society.

Week 2- Seminar 1A and 1B- International Relations and the Middle East: beyond the discipline/area gap. 

Week 3- Lecture 3- The Middle East in post WW1 State-System. Lecture 4- The Middle East in the Cold War. 

Week 4- Seminar 2A and 2B- The Treaty of Versailles: Effects on the future composition and stability of the Middle East. 

Week 5- Lectures 5 and 6- The transformations of the Regional System from the '70s until the End of the Cold War. 

Week 6- Seminar 3A and 3B- Identity Politics and ME International Relations: Nationalism, Panarabism and Islamism.

Week 7- Lecture 7- The Political Economy of Oil and the International Relations of the Middle East. Lecture 8: the Middle East after the Cold War.

Week 8- Seminar 4A and 4B- The political economy of oil 

Week 9- Seminar 5A and 5B- War and Order in the Middle East: the Arab-Israeli Conflict. 

Week 10- Seminar 6A and 6B- War at the Periphery of the Arab Core, the First and the Second Gulf War. 











Louise Fawcett, International Relations of the Middle East, Oxford University Press (3rd edition), 2013

Raymond Hinnebusch, The International Politics of the Middle East. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2003 (available also in Italian: Raymond Hinnebusch, La politica internazionale del Medio Oriente. Bologna: Il Ponte, 2010), chaps. 1,2,7,8.

Fred Halliday, The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics, and Ideology. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. (Available also in Italian as Fred Halliday, Il Medio Oriente, Potere, Politica e Ideologia. Milano: V&P, 2007), chapter 2.

For a historical overview (highly recommended to those who did not take a minor/major in History of the Modern Middle East before):

Marcella Emiliani, Medio Oriente: una storiadal 1981 al1991 e Medio Oriente: una storia dal 1991 a oggi (Bari: Laterza, 2012)

alternatively if English preferred :

William Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, Boulder CO: Westview Press, 2013.

Seminar readings, with related key questions and activities, will be available on IOL-Teaching Materials.

Non attending students must agree on a customized bibliography focusing on a preferred topic among those covered during the course. THEY ARE REQUESTED TO CONTACT THE LECTURER, EITHER BY EMAIL OR DURING OFFICE HOURS, NO LATER THAN WEEK 4. STRICT DEADLINE.

The following resources can be used productively to research on various topics in history, politics and international relations of the Modern Middle East.

http://jadaliyya.com [http://jadaliyya.com/] [ indipendent e-by ASI, Arab Studies Institute]

http://merip.org [http://merip.org/] [Middle East Research and Information Project]

http://w3fp.arizona.edu/mesassoc/ [MESA homepage]

http://www.albawaba.com/ [Albawaba Middle East gateway]

http://www.mideast.org/ [Middle East Institute]

http://menic.utexas.edu/menic.html [Centre for ME Studies, Univ of Texas at Austin]

http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/ [Al-Ahram Weekly]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/ [BBC World Service]

Academic journal specialized in Middle Eastern Studies:

British Journal of Middle East Studies

Bulletin (British Society of Middle Eastern Studies)

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

International Journal of Middle East Studies

Journal of Palestine Studies

Middle East Report

MERIP Middle East Report

MERIP Reports

Access to these journal is free for all UNIBO students via the University Library System (see how to connect by remote to the Uni server in order to access these resources when you're not on campus


Teaching methods

Lectures, seminar group discussions.

Assessment methods

Oral exam at the end of the course (100% final grade)

Teaching tools

PC, maps, slides.

Office hours

See the website of Francesca Biancani