Politics of Migrants, Refugees, and Diasporas in the Middle East

School: School of Government and Society
Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies

Level: Final Year (LH) Undergraduate

Credits: 20
Semester: 1 and 2
Contact hours: 1 hourly lecture per week (10); 1 hourly tutorial group per week (10)
Module Co-ordinator: Dr Gerasimos Tsourapas


The course offers students the opportunity to engage with a range of debates surrounding the politics of migration in a variety of manifestations prevalent in North Africa and the Middle East. It aims to understand and compare migratory movements from multiple perspectives — historical, socio-economic, and political — while also incorporating topic-specific literatures from international relations, comparative politics, and diaspora studies. The readings aim to complement a weekly lecture, classroom presentations and discussion, and fit broadly within the course’s main objective: offering students with a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to engage with the complexity of the politics of population movements across the Middle East, and to contextualise these movements within wider debates and scholarship. To do this effectively, the course begins by presenting the necessary analytic tools and offering a historical overview of Middle East migration. It continues by examining migration through three specific perspectives (the economics of migration and the advent of neoliberalism; migrants as objects of politics and authoritarian regimes; migrants as political actors and the 2011 Arab uprisings). Finally, it emphasises in-depth analyses of migratory movements across Egypt and Maghreb, the Mashreq, as well as Iraq and the Gulf Cooperation Council states. By the end of the course, students will have acquired a strong understanding of the politics of migration across the Middle East and the ability to process and critically evaluate information, as well as to communicate their ideas and develop structures, reasoned argumentation.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  • demonstrate an in depth understanding of the history, key concepts, and perspectives relating to the study of population mobility in the Middle East, and to understand contemporary migration challenges with historical, theoretical, and analytical precision.
  • engage critically,  with the socio-economic and political importance of migration, refugee flows and diasporas in the contemporary Arab world, Israel, Turkey, and Iran.
  • critically evaluate influential paradigms and concepts of comparative politics and international relations theory used to study migration, and how they apply to the Middle East.


  • 1 x 3,000-word essay (50%)
  • 1 x oral presentation (15%)
  • 1 x 2-hour examination (35%)

Related courses:

The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2018. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.