BA Ancient History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Themes in the Histories of Arab and Jewish Nationalisms

Course unit fact file
Unit code MEST20272
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


How do collective identities come into existence? How do nations emerge (or disintegrate thereof)? What best accounts for the development of nations: ideology, the economy, societal transformation, politics, cultural formation or technological change? This course examines these and other key questions and themes pertaining to the formation and consolidation of collective identities in the 20th Century Middle East. It does so by utilising theoretical studies that focus on additional regions. We explore the emergence and consolidation of collective identities on competing bases (such as ethnicity, language, region, class, religion, etc).


On successful completion of the course unit students should have developed skills for critical analysis of the phenomenon of nationalism as one of the world’s single most potent forces as well as understand core issues pertaining to the 20th Century formation of modern Egypt and Israel/Palestine.

Teaching and learning methods

Lecture, seminar presentation, and seminar discussions.

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this unit successful participants should have reached an advanced level of foundational knowledge in the study of the global phenomenon of ethno-nationalism; be able to discuss and analyse the competing schools of scholarly thought aiming to explain it; be able to comment in an informed manner on a range of controversies surrounding the study of Jewish and Arab nationalisms.

Intellectual skills

  • Conduct research on a key question or choose to formulate one yourself contingent on lecturers’ approval
  • Write analytical plans for a 3000 word piece of work 
  • Develop a written argument of depth and complexity, using critical literature, with a standard of scholarly presentation appropriate for Level 2 study. 

Practical skills

  • Analytical skills: analyse and evaluate existing literature on the topic studied. Committed students will emerge from this course unit with a capacity to think critically, knowledgeably, and confidently.
  • Innovation/creativity: students are encouraged to apply critical analysis to the topic researched/studied.
  • Management: students will be able to work toward a deadline independently – yet with guidance – as well as synthesise secondary literature effectively for a final exam.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Manage time, self-motivate and work to deadline
  • Communicate a coherent argument in some depth and complexity in written form 
  • Demonstrate powers of analysis
  • Display good literacy skills in English 

Employability skills

The foundational knowledge acquired should assist students in any position in the private or public sector that deals with Egypt and Israel/Palestine.

Assessment methods

Assessment task  

Formative or Summative 


Weighting within unit (if summative) 









Resit Assessment

Assessment task  




Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback


Written feedback on essay


Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour)



Recommended reading

  • Hutchinson, John, & Smith, Anthony D. (eds.), Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); 
  • Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities (London: Verso 1991); 
  • Breuilly, John, Nationalism and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982); 
  • Gellner, Ernest, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983); 
  • Smith, Anthony, National Identity (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1991); 
  • Behar, Moshe, “Do Comparative and Regional Studies of Nationalism Intersect?” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Issue 37/4 (2005), pp. 587-612. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Moshe Behar Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Primary sources and lecture notes will be uploaded to blackboard.

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