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University of Oxford: Modern Middle Eastern Studies

Institution University of Oxford
Department Interdepartmental
Telephone 01865 270059
Study type Taught


The information provided on this page was correct at the time of publication (November 2020). For complete and up-to-date information about this course, please visit the relevant University of Oxford course page via

The MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies is a two-year course intended for students from all social science and humanities backgrounds. The course provides intensive training in a Middle Eastern language, training in research methods and topics relevant to the study of the Middle East.

The MPhil Modern Middle Eastern Studies accepts students who are complete beginners in a Middle Eastern language (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish). The course also accommodates students in any of these languages at an advanced level. If you already have research-level proficiency in one of these languages you will be required to take a different language.

In the first two terms, you will receive intensive language training to cover the fundamentals of grammar in your chosen Middle Eastern language. This training takes place in classes or language laboratories. You are expected to attend the weekly MPhil seminar, The Modern Middle East, held in the first term. The seminar is an interactive forum in which you are asked to present arguments and to respond to each other’s work. In addition to this seminar, you will be encouraged to attend lectures and seminars offered by the teaching staff during the first term.

In the second term, in consultation with your supervisor, you will arrange a series of tutorials for one of three options to be offered for the final examination. Tutorials typically involve eight weekly meetings and between four and six essays, arranged between you and your tutor. Most options have an associated lecture series which you are expected to attend.

Tutorial options offered on a regular basis include the following:

  • History of the Middle East, 1860-1970

  • Politics of the Middle East

  • Social Anthropology of the Middle East

  • International Relations of the Middle East

  • Iranian History from the Constitutional to the Islamic Revolution, 1905-1979

  • History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran

  • Politics of the Maghreb

  • The Maghreb since 1830

  • Main Themes in Israeli Politics and Society

  • The Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa

  • Political Islam, Islamism, and Modern Islamic Movements

  • Modern Turkish Literature: Texts and Contexts

  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict

  • History from below in the Middle East and North Africa

  • Space and Gender in Middle Eastern Literatures: The Harem and the Body

  • History and Politics of the Gulf

  • History of Qajar Iran

  • Hebrew Literature

  • Modern Islamic Thought

You will sit the qualifying examination at the end of the second term. Language training continues in the third term, and you will have tutorials for the second of your three options. You will at this stage begin your thesis preparations, meeting with staff members to identify a thesis supervisor.

During the long vacation from the end of June to early October you are urged to pursue intensive language training in an appropriate course in the region, political circumstances permitting. Information on the different courses can be obtained from the relevant language instructors, in consultation with supervisors. You are encouraged to take the opportunity provided by study abroad to conduct research for your thesis in the region.


Master of Philosophy - MPhil

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