Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

MA International Relations and Politics of the Middle East

This distinctive programme offers an in-depth analysis of this vital region, delivered by an expert academic team. You’ll directly address the complex nature of the politics and international relations of the Middle East to gain an oversight of internal dimensions of the region and their links with regional and extra-regional relations.

Covering a range of approaches from Politics, Comparative Politics and International Relations, it addresses the security, economic, identity and political dynamics of the region. The programme will be of interest to you if you’re wishing to study these issues in more depth and to make comparisons across the region.

You’ll benefit from our specific expertise and research interests in a diverse range of areas relating to the Middle East - with particular focus on security issues, regional relations and the interest of the outside powers in the Middle East, as well as our in-depth research and experience in specific sub-regional areas.

Our academics are widely recognised as leading experts in their field. They boast specialisms in a range of areas: the politics of Islamism; the Persian Gulf; the Israel-Palestine conflict; the international organisations of the Middle East; democratisation in the region and issues of terrorism and insurgency. Teaching on the programme draws upon a network of Middle East specialists based at the University. They come from a range of disciplines and participate in the Middle East Research Group (MERG).

Our rich research culture within the School of Politics and International Studies is specifically focused on the Middle East. It also draws on other regions and cross-cutting themes such as the prevalence of authoritarianism and the problems of democratisation, meaning that there is a combination of focus on the Middle East which is also influenced by wider insights and research focus.

The compulsory modules will give you the opportunity to:

  • gain an advanced understanding of the issues of security, economy and society across the Middle East
  • undertake a comprehensive analysis of the ever-changing dynamics of this complex region
  • examine the pressing contemporary issues facing the Middle East
  • gain an insight into the internal dimensions of the region and their links with regional and extra-regional relations
  • study in-depth the ongoing peace negotiations in Israel-Palestine.

You’ll also be able to hone your research and writing skills in your compulsory dissertation – an independent piece of research on your chosen topic.

The wide-ranging list of optional modules means that you can explore a diverse range of related subjects of interest to you.

Each semester you will take 60 credits amounting to 120 credits across the whole year. In semester one you will study Contemporary Politics of the Middle East and in semester two you will study The Politics of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, along with your chosen optional modules.

If you’re a part-time student, you’ll take one compulsory module and study some optional modules in your first year. You’ll then take the second compulsory module, the dissertation module and other optional modules in your second year to complete your programme.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Contemporary Politics of the Middle East 30 credits
  • The Politics of the Israel-Palestine Conflict 30 credits
  • POLIS MA Dissertation 60 credits

Optional modules

  • Debating the Middle East: Islam, Politics and Culture 30 credits
  • Conflict, Complex Emergencies and Global Governance 30 credits
  • Contemporary Issues in Nuclear Non-Proliferation and WMD 15 credits
  • Insurgency 15 credits
  • Hezbollah: From Islamic Resistance to Government 15 credits
  • Policing Post-Conflict Cities 15 credits
  • Terrorism 15 credits
  • Counterterrorism 15 credits
  • Theoretical Approaches in International Relations 30 credits
  • Civil War and Intrastate Conflict 30 credits

Learning and teaching

Teaching is through a combination of lectures, lively seminar discussions and weekly readings. We expect you to participate fully in taught sessions and to study independently, developing your skills and preparing for lectures and seminars. You’ll also be able to benefit from an impressive range of research talks and seminars led by outside speakers or colleagues from within the department and University.


Within modules, assessment consists of a mixture of essays, exams and group presentations. At the end of your studies, a 12,000 word dissertation will allow you to pursue your own research interest under close supervision by one of our expert colleagues.

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a related discipline, an equivalent professional qualification or relevant experience.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Politics and Internationals Studies admissions team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:

  • don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
  • want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.

Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Communication and Society (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Communication and Society (10 weeks).

How to apply

Application deadlines

UK/EU students: 31 July

International students: 30 June

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you’ll need

  • A completed application form
  • A copy of your degree certificate or equivalent, as well as a copy of the transcript of your grades (or partial transcript if you’re still studying) certified by the awarding institution
  • Two references
  • Evidence of your English language qualifications, if English isn’t your first language.


The School of POLIS doesn’t typically interview applicants; however, in certain circumstances programme leaders may invite you to an interview as part of the selection procedure. This may allow us to further assess your aptitude and interest in the programme if your circumstances are not straightforward. If invited to an interview, you’ll receive an email invitation from the School to attend on a specific date. We’ll do our best to accommodate requests for an alternative date but this cannot be guaranteed.

Admissions policy

School of Politics and International Studies Taught Postgraduate Admissions Policy


UK/EU: £7,500 (total)

International: £16,000 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

POLIS Scholarships

POLIS offers one full-fees scholarship for UK/EU applicants wishing to study a full-time Masters.

For applicants who are nationals of China, Japan, Nigeria, India and South Korea and wishing to study a full-time Masters, POLIS offers up to five scholarships to the value of £3000.

Find out further details of the POLIS Excellence Scholarships schemes.

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

The programme is both academically cutting-edge and policy relevant at a time when the Middle East is undergoing radical change. It will produce graduates who are able to fill the growing need for experts on the region in a variety of industries from oil and investment to security and services. The Middle East is a growing market for many firms who all want to understand the risks and opportunities of working in the region better.

There is a growing market from employers for graduates with expertise in Middle Eastern politics, including NGOs and international institutions; ministries of foreign affairs, trade and defence; as well as consultancy and risk-management/analysis firms engaged in the region.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. Thats one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

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