Undergraduate Module Descriptor


ARA1021: Introduction to Persian History and Culture

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.

Module Aims

The class covers about 7000 years of Persian history, proceeding chronologically, beginning with pre-IslamicPersiaaround 5000 B.C. The first class concentrates primarily on giving students an outline of the glories of pre-IslamicIranduring the Achaemenian – followed by the Parthian and Sassanian – Empires. We will examine the wars between the Persians and the Greeks and Alexander the Great’s conquest ofPersiaand its aftermath as well. The following two classes cover the rise of Islam, the Arab conquest, the Islamization of most ofIran, with the emergence of local Iranian dynasties and the appearance of the ‘New Persian’ language out of the fusion of Middle Persian with Arabic. Class four gives an overview of both the role of the indigenous Persian religions (Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism) in Persian history, as well an account of the place of Christianity, Gnosticism and Judaism in ancient and medievalPersia. Classes five through seven attempt to summarize the history of the various dynasties who ruled Iran during the twelfth through fifteenth centuries—Ghaznavids, Saljuqs, Mongol Il-Khans and Timurids—highlighting some of the great poets, historians, theologians, scientists, Sufis and philosophers who flourished during this renaissance period. Class eight is devoted to

the culture, society, politics and literature of SafavidPersia(1501-1722). The final three classes treat Iranian history and culture during the 17th-19th centuries (the Afsharid, Zand and Qajar dynasties) and in modern times, from the Pahlavi monarchy during the twentieth century down to the clerical coup d’Etat of 1979, concluding with an overview of the last three decades of the Ayatollahs’ dictatorship down to Ahmadnejad. At the end of the course students will have gained a thorough acquaintance with both the classical history and contemporary politics and culture of one of the greatest of the world’s civilizations.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here - you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. demonstrate introductory level skills of historical and cultural analysis, with reference to the history of Iran;
2. demonstrate introductory understanding of Iranian history, in both the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods;
Discipline-Specific Skills3. understand historical change and develop a coherent argument based on secondary sources;
4. develop critical approaches to the historiography of Iran;
Personal and Key Skills5. develop analytical and writing skills through reading assignments
6. compose essays;
7. participate in directed class discussions; and
8. manage time and observe deadlines.