Programme Specification for the 2015/6 academic year

BA (Hons) Middle East Studies

1. Programme Details

Programme nameBA (Hons) Middle East Studies Programme codeUFA3IAIIAI06
Study mode(s)Full Time
Academic year2015/6
Campus(es)Streatham (Exeter)
Programme start date


NQF Level6 (Honours)

2. Description of the Programme

On this Exeter based three year programme, you can expect to achieve a high level of social scientific understanding of the Middle East. No language study is required, although you are free to study Persian, Kurdish or Arabic. In the case of Arabic, students with no prior knowledge may take elementary modules, and students with some knowledge of the language will be assessed to find their level. Compulsory and optional modules cover Middle Eastern ethnography, economy and economic development, gender and identity, politics, culture and arts, and religion and society.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

1. To provide you with proficiency in all skills of the Arabic language (reading, writing, listening and speaking) to enable you to advance your understanding of the region;
2. To provide a broad knowledge of the contemporary Middle East, and of its modern history, cultural heritage, social identities, economic structures, natural environment and resources;
3. To advance understanding of the social and political dynamics of the Middle East countries within the contemporary international setting;
4. To develop your basic analytical capabilities in history and in the social sciences and to develop your appreciation of different approaches to the study of the polities, economies, societies and the modern history of the Middle East;
5. To expose you to a range of current interpretations of the region’s problems and issues from different disciplinary perspectives;
6. To enable you to engage in the study of socio-economic problems and policy issues pertaining to the Middle East; To develop a deeper appreciation of specific contemporary problems and issues through tailored modules and/or supervised independent research;
7. To build on your initial interest in the Middle East by developing your appreciation of different aspects of Arab and Islamic culture and of the cultural diversity of the region;
8. To endow you with knowledge of the different sources and types of information on the Middle East;
9. To provide you with the necessary personal and key skills to enable you to develop as independent and reflective individuals;
10. To prepare you for graduate employment by developing your broad education, transferable and practical skills and analytical abilities.

4. Programme Structure

This Exeter-based programme is studied over three years. The programme is arranged into three terms each year and is divided into units of study called modules. Modules have a value of 15 or 30 credits; and the BA dissertation is worth 30 credits.

The full list of modules at IAIS is available at ~

In order to proceed to stage 2, you must achieve an average of 40% across your stage 1 modules and pass any modules that are designated non-condonable. You may progress to the next stage (or in the final year, to proceed to the award of an honours degree) once you have passed 90 credits and achieved an average of 40% or more for modules taken in your current stage.

Those modules below marked with an asterisk (*) are non-condonable: if failed, the failed assessment(s) must be retaken, for a maximum possible mark of 40%. The consequences of failing more than 30 credits in a year, or of failing a module at the second attempt, are explained in the School assessment procedures.

Our teaching methods make full use of seminars, study groups and web-based learning. Language modules take place in small interactive classes of about 15-20 students, using the language laboratory, satellite TV, the internet and computer-assisted language learning. Non-language modules are delivered through small group lectures, seminars and textual study, tutorials and discussion.

You’ll get on average ten contact hours per week with tutors (teaching time) in language-based programmes. You are also expected to invest a lot of time in independent study outside of these contact hours; this involves individual study, contact with your study-group (for example, in preparation for seminars), and contact with your personal tutor. The exact amount of time spent working independently varies from module to module, but you should expect your total workload to average 40 hours per week during term time.

A flexible system of module choice allows you to tailor your programme to your particular interests as you progress. We’ll teach you to work independently, to research, analyse and synthesise new and unfamiliar material and to communicate clearly using both the written and spoken word. In seminar presentations you’ll acquire the skill of confidently delivering coherent and precise arguments to an audience, as well as learning how to receive comments and criticism and develop the ability to lead in a team/group situation.

We’re actively engaged in introducing new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches to learning through our virtual learning environment, where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. You can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes and interact through activities such as the discussion forums.

Research-inspired teaching

Research-inspired teaching ensures lectures are up-to-date and relevant so that you will benefit from access to the latest thinking, equipment and resources. All staff teach third year options which are linked to their own interests which include the study of history and social sciences in the Middle East and Muslim world, Islamic studies, and language and literature including studies in Persian and Kurdish.

5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme. Details of the modules currently offered may be obtained from the College web site

You may take option modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module. Descriptions of the individual modules are given in full on the College web site.

The BA Middle East Studies degree programme is made up of compulsory (core) and optional modules, which are worth 15 or 30 credits each. Full-time undergraduate students need to complete modules worth a total of 120 credits each year.

Depending on your programme you can also take up to 30 credits each year in another subject, for instance a language or business module, to develop career-related skills or just widen your intellectual horizons.

Please note that modules offered are subject to change, depending on staff availability, timetabling, and demand.

Stage 1

You will study the history, politics, society and economics of the Middle East, as well as the basic principles of Islam. You will also choose from a list of modules in history, politics and sociology.

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
ARA1021 Introduction to Persian History and Culture 15Yes
ARA1010 Politics and Economy of the Contemporary Middle East 15Yes
ARA1018 Introduction to Islam 15Yes
ARA1036 Histories of the Middle East, 600-1800 C.E. 15Yes

Optional Modules

And 15 credits in IAIS plus 30 credits in IAIS or elsewhere in the University:

Total Credits for Stage 1


Stage 2

You will continue your study of history, politics, society and economics of the Middle East, as well as the philosophy, theology, practices, traditions, poetry and law of Islam.

Optional Modules

And 60 credits from the list of optional modules found here:

Not all optional modules will be available every year and the lists may be supplemented by additional level 2 Middle Eastern Studies modules in any particular year.

And 30credits of optional modules available either in the IAIS or elsewhere in the University.

Total Credits for Stage 2


Stage 3

The centre-point of the final year is the dissertation. This provides you with the opportunity to explore an area of interest and to demonstrate what you have learned over the previous years of your degree.

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
ARA3106 Dissertation 30Yes

Optional Modules

And 30 credits in IAIS plus 30 credits in IAIS or elsewhere:

Not all optional modules will be available every year and these lists may be supplemented by additional level 2 and 3 Middle Eastern Studies modules in any particular year.

You may choose optional modules within the above schema within the following credit framework:
No more than 150 credits of level 1 modules may be taken
No less than 90 credits of level 3 modules may be taken
No level 1 modules from either within the Institute or the University more generally may normally be taken at final stage (3 or 4 as appropriate) of the degree.
A module may be taken only if the necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, if the timetable allows, and subject to restrictions.

Total Credits for Stage 3


6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. understand a variety of political, social, cultural and ideological dimensions of the major forces that contend power and influence and that shape economic, social and cultural life in the Middle East. You will also have an understanding of the historical origins and the development of these forces and of the social, economic and institutional structures of the contemporary Middle East;
2. achieve a grounding in a social science discipline providing an essential, simple, useable body of theory which will be a basis for further study and which will enable you to apply the theory to analysis of the real world with particular emphasis on the Middle East;
3. develop a critical understanding of the difference between religious texts/ideologies on the one hand, and cultural practices and life styles on the other. Appreciation for cultural and social differences in interpreting and living Islam. You will become sensitive to the construction of cultural stereotypes about Islam and Muslims;
4. relate the various processes of emergence, development and shaping of the modern identities (national, class, ethnic, gender individual) of the Middle East to the broad historical processes of change in economic, political and social conditions;
5. acquire the ability to evaluate critically sources, themes and analytical tools for the study of the modern economic and social history of the Middle East and of the processes of the region's incorporation into world markets and of the transformation of its pre-capitalist structures;
6. appreciate the processes that marked the historical development of modern states in the region, and to consider them in the light of current debates on colonial and post-colonial socio-political systems. You will also gain a critical insight into the relationship between ideology, politics and culture and their roles in shaping of the modern Middle East;
7. develop an understanding of the position of the modern Middle East in the global economic and political setting and a grasp of the role of outside factors in shaping the Middle East;
8. understand major common problems of development in the Arab region, and enhancing knowledge of the institutions and policy paradigms. Ability to relate problems to wider policy issues as well as to sectoral and regional questions;
9. achieve a basic appreciation of the modern international relations of the Middle East in its different dimensions

Lectures; tutor-led discussions; directed reading and preparation; student presentations; essays and feedback; dissertation. 

Assessment through assigned essays, coursework and unseen written examinations

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

10. analyse and consider critically both prevailing cultural notions and academic interpretations;
11. distinguish between a range of methodological approaches and between a variety of genres;
12. work on primary sources under tutor guidance;
13. relate case studies to conceptual and theoretical frameworks in order to foster independent thinking. An ability to understand historical change from a multi-disciplinary perspective;
14. understand the links between processes of economic growth and social and political change. Involves enhancement of the skills of understanding, interpreting and handling data, and the use of basic quantitative and qualitative evidence;
15. become familiar with the principal intellectual and political discourses deployed to negotiate a new set of economic and social arrangements;
16. discuss empirically based research in the light of wider theoretical frameworks and to assess critically culturally specific interpretations of historical processes;
17. address issues of policy and to deploy a range of tools and knowledge from different disciplinary fields to the understanding of issues and problems of economic and social development. Involves development of the skills of understanding data sources and use of basic economic statistics;
18. apply theoretical constructs and conceptual categories from economics, politics and social studies to empirical data

Lectures, class presentations, group projects, essay writing, unseen examination and use of Library and Internet Resources

Assessment through assigned essays, coursework and unseen written examinations

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

19. participate in both independent study and group work, oral discussion and effective communication when working in a group
20. take responsibility for own learning by planning and managing tasks with limited guidance and by making use of feedback
21. organise and process data to produce a coherent and argument, both orally and in writing;
22. sharpen critical faculties and enhancement of ability to arrive at a more balanced and objective judgement;
23. organise time and effective prioritisation of tasks;
24. use electronic information and communication tools

Transferable skills are key to all teaching and learning activities on the programme: examinations, presentations, word processing and other IT skills, logical writing and researching information sources. 

Assessment through assigned essays, coursework and unseen written examinations. 

7. Programme Regulations

University Regulations on the number of credits to be taken and at what level for each stage of the programme can be found in the Credit and Qualifications Framework.


Condonement is the process that allows you to be awarded credit (and so progress to the next stage or, in the final stage, receive an award), despite failing to achieve a pass mark at a first attempt. You are not entitled to reassessment in condoned credit. Regulations on condonement can be found in the Handbook for Assessment, Progression and Awarding for Taught Programmes.

Assessment and Awards

For undergraduate degrees assessment at stage one does not contribute to the summative classification of the award. Details of the weightings for each year of all programme lengths can be found in the Handbook for Assessment, Progression and Awarding for Taught Programmes.


Full details of assessment regulations for undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes and the classification of awards can be found in the Handbook for Assessment, Progression and Awarding for Taught Programmes.

You can also read details of Generic Marking Criteria.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

Personal and Academic Tutoring

It is University policy that all Colleges should have in place a system of academic and personal tutors. The role of academic tutors is to support you with individual modules; the role of personal tutors is to provide you with advice and support fo the duration of your programme, and this support extends to providing you with details of how to obtain support and guidance on personal difficulties such as accommodation, financial difficulties and sickness. You can also make an appointment to see individual teaching staff.

Information on the College Personal Tutoring system, library provision, ELE resources and access to College support services can be found on the College webpages for current students.

Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC)

SSLCs enable students and staff to jointly participate in the management and review of the teaching and learning provision.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

Learning Resources

The University Library maintains its principal collections in the main library buildings on the Streatham and St Luke's campuses, together with a number of specialist collections in certain Colleges. The total Library collection comprises over a million volumes and 3000 current periodical subscriptions.

IT Services

A wide range of IT services are provided throughout the Exeter campuses, including open-access computer rooms, some of which are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Helpdesks are maintained on the Streatham and St Luke's campuses, while most study bedrooms in halls and flats are linked to the University's campus network.

Student Support Services

The University provides many support services including health and wellbeing, multifaith chaplaincy, family support, the Students' Guild and international student support.

10. Admissions Criteria

All applications are considered individually on merit. The University is committed to an equal opportunities policy with respect to gender, age, race, sexual orientation and/or disability when dealing with applications. It is also committed to widening access to higher education to students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience.

Candidates for undergraduate programmes must satisfy the undergraduate admissions requirements of the University of Exeter.

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice. See the University's TQA Manual for details.

12. Indicators of Quality and Standards

Certain programmes are subject to accreditation and/or review by professional and statutory regulatory bodies (PSRBs).

13. Methods for Evaluating and Improving Quality and Standards

The University and its constituent Colleges draw on a range of data to review the quality of education provision. The College documents the performance in each of its tuaght programmes, against a range of criteria on an annual basis through the Annual Student Experience Review (ASER).

Subject areas are reviewed every five years through a College Academic Audit scheme that includes external contributions.

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

College of Social Sciences and International Studies (CSSIS)

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

Partner Institution

Not applicable to this programme.

17. Programme Accredited / Validated by


18. Final Award

BA (Hons) Middle East Studies

19. UCAS Code


20. NQF Level of Final Award

6 (Honours)

21. Credit

CATS credits


ECTS credits


22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

[Honours] Area studies

23. Dates

Origin Date


Date of last revision