Day School: Politics and Religion in the Middle East

Ref: C3741569

The focus of this session will be on role of religion in the politics of national states in the Middle East. What does it mean to say that Saudi Arabia is Sunni, Iran is Shi'a, Israel is Jewish, etc? Turkey has a secular constitution but this is under review by devout Muslims. Lebanon has a system in which leadership roles are shared between religions and sects. Where is secularism in all this and why should we ask? Middle Eastern states today exist within national boundaries largely put in place by Britain, France and other colonial powers with little concern for patterns of religious affiliation. How far is this a recipe for inevitable political instability within and between states in the region and between those states and the wider world?

Additional information about this course

This course is not supported by the Skills Funding Agency and does not have a fee waiver but concessions may be available - contact the Branch for further details.

Course aim

ISIS, a group of Sunni Muslims, established an Islamic state. Israel is a Jewish state. Iran is Shi'a. Why and how are faith and politics intertwined in the Middle East?

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • The course is for anyone with an interest in the topic and some awareness of the major conflicts in the region today.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • think, in a more informed way, about news from the Middle East reporting conflict between and within states and religious groups.
  • evaluate the various sources of information about religious/political conflict in the Middle East.
  • have a view about the relevance of events in the Middle East to Britain.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • This is a single-session presentation delivered seminar-style allowing you to react to the speaker's analysis and emphases.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • This will be a single lecture plus Q & A presentation in which the speaker will approach the topic from a neutral, academic perspective. He will not be concerned with the religious merits of different faiths.

What else do I need to know?

  • Bring a readiness to see groups defined by politics and/or religion as just that, without concern for whether they are 'good' or 'bad'.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • An awareness that the Middle East has more than its share of conflict in the name of religion would be a good basis.

What can I do next?

  • This session aims to clarify some of the apparent complexities of conflict in the Middle East and to identify major links and trends. It should be of help in understanding news items - to see the wood for the trees.

Download full Course information sheet

Day School: Politics and Religion in the Middle East


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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