Mediterranean Area Studies
Credits: 6 ECTS
Pathway core courses
This course focuses on the study of political, economic and social dynamics in the Mediterranean, the Arab world and the broader Middle East. The course will start providing theoretical and methodological tools to approach the region. It will be followed by an overview of the contemporary history in this region and then will analyse the characteristics of political systems in this region. Three aspects are studied in detail: the evolution of politics in the Arab and Islamic context, the resilience of authoritarianism and the introduction of partial political liberalization reforms. It will also assess the relevance and manifestation of identity politics with a particular emphasis on sectarianism and political Islam and the links between identity politics, conflict and violence.
The course will then move to the analysis of socio-economic trends (centrality of fossil fuels, disparities, unemployment, migrations, etc.) and its salience in understanding the political evolution of this region (rentierism, 2011 uprisings, new social movements). The course will conclude by shedding light on the role of regional and interregional cooperation with a particular focus on the role of the European Union.
Along this course, students will apply political and economic indicators that help us assess the evolution of the region and the peculiarities and commonalities among its countries. The course will also zoom-in into some key countries: Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Western Balkans.
The final grade is the sum of the following criteria:
- Final Exam: 40%
- 2 (out of 3) Simulation seminars: 60% (Sessions 11, 13 and 17)
The Final Exam (40%) will be based on key concepts and issues raised during the course. Specific instructions for the Final Exam will be issued towards the end of the course.
The Simulation exercises consists of (a) writing a mini-essay (800-1000 words) on a specific topic and (b) participating in the in-class seminar, where the mini-essay will be the basis for the discussions. The exercise is designed to deepen the students’ understanding of the political and socio-economic opportunities and challenges facing the countries in the Mediterranean area and the Middle East. The teachers’ evaluation of this exercise will take into account the relevance of information and the student’s deeper insights provided in the mini-essay, as well as active class participation during the seminar.
The 60% of the Final Grade will be calculated based on the average of the 2 best scores in the Simulation seminar out of 3 possible. In order to receive a passing grade on the Simulation seminar, the student must have turned in at least 2 mini-essays and participated in the corresponding 2 in-class exercises.
The classes will be based on a mixed learning methodology, where classes will combine traditional lecturing and student-centred learning. However, in reference to both teaching-styles it should be noted that the course objectives can only be achieved if students come prepared in terms of each session’s readings, PowerPoints and/or assignments, as well as engage actively in classroom discussions.