• Offered by Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Arab and Islamic Studies, Middle East Studies

This course examines in detail the debates over political obedience, engagement and dissent in the Muslim societies of the Middle East.  It begins by an examination of modern Islamic thought and considers diverse views of the state, authority, pluralism, and citizenship. It assesses the importance of political culture and structural factors to both the maintenance and the radical reform of non-participatory political orders. In doing so, it critically examines essentialist and exceptionalist assumptions about Middle Eastern and Muslim societies, the degree to which authoritarianism is engrained, the position of Islamist movements, the reasons for and constraints on popular protest, and the possibilities of externally-influenced political transformations.  While the course is organised thematically, examples are drawn from a number of specific cases and theoretical insights on authoritarianism, democracy and protest are invoked in order to relate the specificity of Middle Eastern Muslim societies to broader debates.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. understand key theoretical issues concerning the processes of political authoritarianism, democratisation and protest;
  2. analyse the ways in which Muslim societies, particularly in the Middle East, have dealt with demands for greater political participation, political obedience, engagement and pluralism;
  3. critically analyse debates about, and schools of thought on, key factors affecting political authoritarianism, democratisation and protest, such as culture, civil society, economics, the media, and elections;
  4. assess the roles of Islamist ideologies and movements in the political process; and
  5. gain insight to the radical reform of non-participatory political orders, and the content and analytical frameworks of a select group of readings.

Indicative Assessment

1 x 4,000 word research essay, 50% LOs 1-5
1 in-class oral presentation, 10 minutes, 10% LOs 1& 3- 4
1 x 3 hr in class examination, 40% LOs 1- 3 & 5


In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 25 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 2 hours of seminars per week for 11 weeks and 3 hours of exam for 1 week
b) 105 hours of independent student research, reading and writing

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a Bachelor of Arts Honours (HARTS or HART2), Bachelor of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies Honours (HMECA), or have completed 144 units towards the Bachelor of Philosophy (Arts) (APHAR or APNAR). You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed MEAS8116.

Preliminary Reading

John L. Esposito and John O. Voll, Islam and Democracy.  New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Daniel Brumberg, Islam and Democracy in the Middle East.  Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.  



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7424 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person View

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