BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Histories of the Islamic World

Unit code HIST10172
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


Islam has been one of the most important transformative forces in the world for the past 1500 years. Not only has it been one of the largest religions in human history, its political, cultural, and intellectual influences have been vast.  Historically, the Islamic world has reached far beyond the Middle East, from Asia and the Indian Ocean to West Africa; and today its reach is truly global. This module examines the history of the Islamic world. It explores the importance of Islam in creating states, in fostering trade, and in circulating ideas. The module therefore provides a key foundation in understanding the emergence of the modern, globalised world, which could not have occurred without these transformations.


HIST10172 is restricted to History programmes, and History joint-honours programmes(please check your programme regulations for further details).

This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; and History joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas. Available to students on an Erasmus programme.


The course will:

  • provide a history of the influences of Islam across the Middle East;
  • introduce students to major developments in politics, empire, and culture in the Islamic world;
  • expose students to major themes in world history;
  • foster comparison between different regions of the world; and
  • introduce practices of note-taking and writing in lectures and seminars.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will:


Representative topics include:

  • Ottoman Empire in the long 19th century
  • Persia in the long 19th century
  • The Creation of the Modern Middle Eastern State System
  • Resource nationalism in the Middle East
  • Authoritarian state systems
  • 20th century reform movements in Africa
  • Protest movements in the contemporary Islamic world

Teaching and learning methods

2 x 1 hour lectures, 1 x 1 hour seminar per week, 1 x course unit office hour per week.

All the support materials for the course will be on BB, and the essay will be submitted and returned via this medium.

Further weekly meeting times will be scheduled with the lecturers on the course for drop-in sessions.

Knowledge and understanding

  • be familiar with some processes of historical change across the Islamic world;
  • deepen their understanding of the relationship between religion and social change;
  • be more sensitive to problems of historical comparison; and
  • understand major theoretical issues in non-Western history.

Intellectual skills

Students will

  • apply a range of theoretical approaches to a range of empirical case studies,
  • demonstrate their ability to bring the qualities of one to bear on the other, and
  • regularly practise how to extract arguments from academic writing.

Practical skills

Students will learn how to

  • prioritise tasks,
  • identify arguments in scholarly writing,
  • write critically, and
  • engage in comparative analysis.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critical reading ability
  • Clear, precise writing ability
  • Ability to engage in critical discussions

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Written communication
Britain¿s large populations of Muslims makes Islamic history important for public-facing employment inside the U.K. This module develops the normal skills of a first-year history module of critical reading, writing, presentation, and analysis.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Oral feedback in seminar discussions - formative

Written feedback on all coursework and assessments - summative

Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment) - formative

Recommended reading

Choueiri, Youssef M., ed. A Companion to the History of the Middle East. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

Gelvin, James. The Modern Middle East: A History, 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Robinson, Francis. Islam and Muslim History in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Laura Veccia Vaglieri, “The Patriarchal and Umayyad Caliphates,” in The Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. 1A, eds., P.M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton and Bernard Lewis (Cambridge: University Press, 2005): 57- 103.

Fred McGraw Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests (Princeton, NJ: University Press, 1981).

Irfan Shahid, “Pre-Islamic Arabia,” in The Cambridge History of Islam, eds., P.M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton and Bernard Lewis (Cambridge: University Press, 2005): 3-29.

Montgomery Watt, “Muhammad,” in The Cambridge History of Islam, eds., P.M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton and Bernard Lewis (Cambridge: University Press, 2005): 30-56.

H.R. Roemer, “The Safavid Period,” in The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 6, eds., Peter Jackson and Laurence Lockhart (Cambridge: University Press, 2006): 189-350.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Steven Pierce Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment Methods

Source Analysis, summative, 1000 words, 25%

Essay, summative, 1000 words, 25%

Exam, summative, 2 hours, 50% 


Return to course details