MSc Middle East Politics


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

Politics and international relations in the Middle East display many of the characteristic features of the modern world. Contentious legacies of imperial map-making fuel frontier disputes and throw into question the legitimacy of the territorial nation-state. Governments have been repeatedly challenged by populations tired of the old rationales for authoritarian rule and angered by its repressive effects. The politics of national identity, sometimes bound up with ideas of religious identity, have been given new urgency by class conflict, by military occupation and by the growth of the security state. Meanwhile, the long history of external intervention in the states of the region has heightened domestic and regional tensions.

The degree offers students an opportunity to study politics in the region through a number of disciplinary approaches, such as political sociology (class, gender, ethnicity and sect), comparative politics (state power, political economy of development, democratic openings and nationalism), and international politics (war, international political economy, regionalism and dependency). At the same time, it provides thematic courses that encourage students to look at political processes in the region from distinct perspectives, such as the study of political violence, the examination of the politics of resistance and the understanding of Islamic political ideologies and political movements.

At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students are expected to read extensively, to make a number of presentations and to engage actively in seminar discussions. They are also expected to write substantial papers, guided by their course tutors, but requiring significant independent work.


SOAS MSc Middle East Politics students leave SOAS not only with a knowledge and understanding of the complex political and cultural issues of international politics, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers, both in business and in the public sector.


Students must take 180 credits comprised of 120 taught credits (including core and option modules) and a 60 credit dissertation.


Dissertation must be on some aspect of Middle East Politics.

  • Dissertation in Political Studies

Core Modules

Choose one module to the value of 15 credits from List A below.

List A

  • State and transformation in the Middle East
  • Political society in the Middle East


Optional Modules

Choose either

  • 75 credits from List B below and
  • 30 credits from List D below


  • 45 credits from List B below and
  • 30 credits from List C below and
  • 30 credits from List D below.

List of modules (subject to availability)

  • List B: Regional Politics Modules
    Modules already selected under A cannot be selected again.
    • International politics of the Middle East
    • State and Society in Central Asia and the Caucasus
    • Geopolitics and Security in Central Asia and the Caucasus
    • Political violence
    • Politics of resistance in the Middle East
    • Islam and politics
    • Islam and political ideologies
    • Infrastructures, Conflict and Struggle
    • Urban Politics in the Middle East
    • The Politics of Solidarity and Transnationalism in the Arab World
    • State and transformation in the Middle East
    • Political society in the Middle East
  • List C: Disciplinary Politics Modules
    • Politics of Globalisation and Development
    • State & society in Asia & Africa
    • Queer Politics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East
    • Comparative International Political Thought
    • Islamic/Democratic Political Thought
    • Political Thought on the Just Rebellion
    • The Indian Ocean in World Politics
    • The Politics of State Violence: An Interdisciplinary Perspective
    • Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Social Research
    • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • List D: Modules from other departments
    • Elementary Hebrew (PG)
    • Turkey: Continuity and Change
    • Islamic Law (MA/LLM)
    • Israel and the Palestinians
    • Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East I
    • Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East II
    • Gender in the Middle East
    • Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications
    • Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics
    • Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II: Culture and Society
    • Iran: History, Culture, Politics
    • Queer Politics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East

Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

You can apply for this course via the online application form.

We aim to assess a complete application and provide a decision within a 5-week time frame. Overseas students who require a Tier 4 visa and wish to join SOAS should bear in mind visa applications can take several weeks, so you should apply as soon as possible.

Consideration of Application

The whole application, including transcript and references, is considered before a decision is reached. You are therefore advised to submit a complete application including references and transcript (where required). An incomplete application will add considerable delays to the decision-making process.

Students will receive an acknowledgement of their application. Each application is carefully considered and although we try and respond as quickly as possible, we do ask that students should expect to receive a response within five weeks of receipt.

Candidates who are available in the United Kingdom may be called for an interview. The absence of academic members of staff (or instance on study leave) may affect the timing of decisions.

Entry Requirements

The qualification for entry is normally a first or upper-second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Politics or International Relations, or a related social science discipline. Applicants without such a background may be considered for admission depending on their academic training and undergraduate performance.

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Oct 2019

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
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