Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


The course analyses the contemporary history of the Middle East in order to understand why this region is today’s global hotspot. The course will place particular emphasis upon the early 21st century and Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman sultanate-caliphate, and Turkey’s neighbours Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia. The Ottoman Empire ruled the Middle East for four centuries, ending in war and genocide during the decade before the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923. The course will lead back many of today’s issues to this pivotal background of the contemporary Middle East. On completion of the course, students will be familiar with major post-Ottoman developments, related historical narratives and sources of political, social and religious history. Topics include the Kurdish question, political Islam, the Sunni-Shia divide and the challenge of egalitarian, supra-religious social contracts. Students will acquire in-depth knowledge about current conflicts, their historiography and the potential for future peace in today’s Middle East.


Not currently offered.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Formulate fundamental questions pertaining to the contemporary Middle East as well as possible solutions;

2. Debate the major historiographical issues relating to the Middle East region;

3. Employ research and information literacy skills to analyse relevant scholarly sources according to the ethical standards of the field of history;

4. Construct clear and concise arguments in written and/or oral forms.


Course content will be drawn from the following range of topics:

  • Turkey and its Middle Eastern neighbours since the End of the Cold War
  • The background to today’s Middle East: the making of the post-Ottoman world
  • The transnational Kurdish conflict
  • Wars in Iraq and Syria
  • Al-Qaeda and “Islamic State”
  • Israel and Palestine since the construction of the separation wall
  • Eschatological (apocalyptical) vs. reasoned futures
  • Historical narratives and their projection of the future

Assumed knowledge

20 units in History at 1000 level or equivalent

Assessment items

Essay: Research essay assignment (50%)

Interview: Book review (20%)

In Term Test: Class test (20%)

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Tutorial paper contribution (10%)

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.