The Arab World and the West

You are here

Course Information
International Relations
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 



This course will cover the cultural and political interaction between the Arab world and the West in the contemporary world. Topics will include the long-term impact of the penetration of Europe into the Islamic World, Orientalism, and Occidentalism, Islamic immigration into western societies, the impact of 9-11 and the different armed conflicts afterwards, and the role of oil and the Middle East conflict.

Watch this short video to get an overview for this course!

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory for all IES Abroad classes, including course related excursions. Any exams, tests, presentations, or other work missed due to student absences can only be rescheduled in cases of documented medical or family emergencies. If a student misses more than three classes in any course 3% of the final class grade will be deducted for every unjustified student absence. Six absences in any course will result in a failing grade.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Discuss their general knowledge and realistic views of the geographic, historical, social, economic, and political aspects of the Arab world today;
  • Interpret the chapters of the common history of interactions between the Arab World and the West;
  • Understand the specific cultural, religious, and social customs involved in Arab-Muslim behavior and practices;
  • Have a deeper understanding regarding diversity, stereotyping, and prejudice towards Muslims and Arabs in Western societies;
  • Utilize analytical study skills which include critical reading, use of Internet resources and listening, outlining and note taking, as well as effective writing and public speaking.
Method of presentation: 

Lectures by the instructor, supported with bibliographical and other didactic materials, followed by debates with the students. At the same time, students will occasionally be required to watch films and/or videos outside of class. Students are also expected to thoroughly read before each class and participate in all class discussions. As a matter of fact, students’ participation grade is based on presence, punctuality, quantity, and most importantly, quality of in-class participation. The instructor will sometimes give in-class assignments or ask students to bring in and summarize examples to class.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Student participation - 15%
  • Mid-term exam - 30%
  • Final exam - 30%
  • Essays & presentation - 25%



Section 1 An introduction to the Arab World
Section 2 A brief history of the Arab World
     Lesson 2 Mohammad the the Four Caliphs
     Lesson 3 The Caliphates
     Lesson 4 The Crusades
     Lesson 5 The Ottoman Empire
Section 3 The Arab World during the 20th century until the present day
     Lesson 6 Imperialism & Colonization
     Lesson 7 The creation of the Arab Nations
     Lesson 8 Geopolitics of conflicts
     Lesson 9 The Arab-Israeli problem
     Lesson 10 The social movements of 2011: a wave of democratization in the Arab World?
Section  4 Challenges in the relationship between the Arab World & the West
     Lesson 11 Islamic Extremism: from Wahabism to the Islamic Caliphate
     Lesson 12 Immigration and challenges of Islam in Europe
     Lesson 13 The Arab Perspective on World Politics and the West


Required readings: 

The instructor will provide mandatory reading material during the course. Most of it will be chapters and articles from the recommended reading list and news stories about the region.