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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

Immerse yourself in debates about international politics, international organisations and how they influence relationships between nations. The MA in Politics and International Relations of the Middle East will equip you with the skills to challenge conventional thinking and analyse your own views about some of the present-day challenges in the Middle East and North African region.

The course provides a rigorous, research-driven, interdisciplinary approach to studying the contemporary Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It aims to provide advanced knowledge and understanding of the dynamics – including cultural and local political and ideological factors – which shape the contemporary international relations of the region. You will learn to evaluate concepts, theories, and paradigms, drawing lessons from real-world studies informed by rigorous qualitative investigations and an exploration of the underlying ethical issues. The MA draws on the research and teaching strengths of our Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (IMEIS) and the wider School of Government and International Affairs.

Your learning will be informed by a wealth of ongoing research by experts working at the forefront of their field. Core modules in the International Politics of the Middle East, the Non-Arab States of the Middle East, and Researching the Global South form the foundation of the course. The remaining modules can be tailored to suit your interests, with options spanning topics from Global Governance to Ideologies and Political Thought. You can also choose to explore a contrasting region of the world in greater depth or study Arabic. These interests can be further developed through the researching and writing of the dissertation.

On completion, graduates are well placed to pursue careers in international and non-governmental organisations, politics, and the civil service. Others move into the wider fields of journalism, teaching, business, and research.

Course structure

Core modules:

International Politics of the Middle East familiarises you with key concepts and theories in the international politics of the Middle East, addressing the complex nature of the politics of this region from a domestic, regional and international perspective. Covering a range of theoretical approaches and disciplinary debates the module addresses the security, economic, identity, and politics dynamics of the region. 

Non-Arab States of the Middle East explores the three non-Arab states - Iran, Turkey, and Israel - that now exercise a disproportionate influence over the political, strategic, and economic trajectories of the region than never before. The module addresses conceptually and empirically the political, social, and economic structures of each of these states, and how in turn, these structures impact upon their regional behaviour and global standing. Core themes explored in this module include ideology, religious authority, civil-military relations, the role of civil society (including gender-based movements), political economy, and regional alignment.

Researching the Global South engages you with key practical, theoretical, methodological, and ethical issues that research in and on the Global South entails. It introduces you to social and political science research methods most commonly used to analyse political, social, and economic developments in the Global South, drawing on examples and conceptual understandings from all branches of social sciences including sociology, political science, geography, and anthropology.

The Dissertation is a substantial piece of independent work in a related aspect politics and/or international relations as it relates to the Middle East. The 10,000-word dissertation is the culmination of the MA, bringing together elements of learning from across the course.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Core Concepts in Political Science
  • Global Governance
  • Ideologies and Political Thought
  • The Politics of the European Union
  • The Politics of East Asia
  • International Relations Theory 
  • Arabic Language


Teaching is centred around the School of Government and International Affairs, a vibrant learning community that is home to multiple research centres and institutes, including the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (IMEIS).

The course is largely delivered via lectures, smaller student-led seminars or tutorial groups, and active learning sessions. Each module is built around 150/300 hours of learning, a large proportion of which is made up of independent reading, preparation, and written assignments. Each module includes a minimum of 10/20 hours of class contact, which gives you the opportunity to review course material in group discussions. 

The dissertation is an important part of the course. To support you in this, you will be appointed a dissertation supervisor based on a broad match with your dissertation topic. As well as providing dissertation-specific support and guidance, you can also contact your supervisor for general academic support.

To keep your learning up-to-date and relevant, we integrate new and innovative research into the curriculum. In addition, we deliver regular seminars and lectures available for all postgraduate students, providing opportunities to engage with important contemporary issues in political and international studies.


Assessment methods vary across the modules studied. Most are assessed by essays, with others including examinations or presentations. As the course progresses, we provide ongoing feedback through formative assessments to help you recognise your strengths as well as identify any areas that may require improvement. 

The course culminates in a 10,000-word dissertation which is conducted and written up as an independent piece of work with support from your appointed supervisor. The dissertation is worth one-third of your final mark.

Entry requirements

  • UK 2.1 Bachelor degree, or equivalent. A degree in the field of Social Sciences is preferable, however, in assessing the application we also take into account other facilitating factors such as relevant experience in lieu of this requirement.
  • English language requirements band E.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,900 per year
EU students £25,500 per year
Island students £12,900 per year
International students £25,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £7,100 per year
EU students £14,100 per year
Island students £7,100 per year
International students £14,100 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Government and International Affairs

Our courses focus on developing self-aware, thoughtful and ambitious global citizens with the skills and knowledge to secure rewarding and stimulating careers inside and outside of politics.

This is underpinned by additional employability support from the University through its careers programme, through employment-related events and by maintaining the alumni network which stretches across the globe.

Our postgraduates achieve successful careers in a wide range of fields including local and national government, diplomacy, newspaper and broadcast journalism, the charity sector, business and finance, publishing, law, manufacturing, teaching and academia, and the armed forces.

Former postgraduate students have taken up roles with leading employers including the House of Commons, Clifford Chance, Accenture, British Airways, Ernst and Young, British Telecom, Goldman Sachs, PwC, the Royal Navy, House of Fraser, Channel 4, HSBC, Teach First, Durham University, Black Rock and the Audit Commission.

For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Department information

School of Government and International Affairs

Part of the School of Government and International Affairs, politics and international relations at Durham is centred around the areas of political theory, comparative politics, international relations and political economy. Our academic staff have a genuine passion for politics and are leading experts in the study of these areas, as they exist across Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and the wider Muslim world, Africa and America.

We are a research-led School offering high quality learning in essential quantitative and qualitative research methods alongside in-depth study of key areas of political and international theory. These include Comparative Institutions and Political Behaviour, Environmental Politics, Global Security and Peacebuilding, International Political Economy and International Relations.

The learning and research community is vibrant and active and is one of the biggest groups at the University comprising a postgraduate body of nearly 50 different nationalities. Our institutes and research centres support key research agendas by organising guest lectures, running regular paper presentations and acting as focal points for networking.

We believe that in a democracy, active citizenship requires awareness and participation and the ability to comprehend public debate. Our vision is to offer a study of politics that not only includes but goes beyond career preparation to consider how to be better human beings and good citizens.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Government and International Affairs pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Over 80% of SGIA research outputs were rated 'Internationally Excellent' or 'World Leading' (REF 2021)


The School of Government and International Affairs is based in the modern Al Qasimi Building. The modern structure is set in its own grounds not far from the historic centre of Durham, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Facilities include spacious environments for both learning and socialising and the building is also home to the renowned Global Policy Institute, the Institute of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and the Durham Global Security Institute.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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