• Offered by Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Arab and Islamic Studies, Anthropology, International Relations, Political Sciences, Sociology

This course focuses on sectarianism in the Middle East. The growing sectarian tension and  conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims has come to define much of the region’s political  landscape. The course’s central aim is to examine the complexities of sectarianism in the Middle  East. Its scope extends the nature of the theological divisions between the two sects. More  significantly, the course analyses Sunni and Shia identity in various countries in the Middle East,  and power politics in the region.

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. identify and comprehend the history of the sectarian divide in Islam between its Sunni and Shia sects, become familiar with the key theological features of Sunni and Shia Islam and the areas in which the sects diverge doctrinally, and have the foundation for understanding the animosity and conflict between members of the sects, in both historical and contemporary terms;
  2. understand sectarian identity and politics in various countries in the Middle East;
  3. understand socio-political development in the Middle East and the sectarian tension and conflict in the region; and
  4. understand the interconnections between religion and politics in general and how that has shaped the attitudes of various actors in the region.

Indicative Assessment

Seminar Participation - 10% (LO's 1-4)
Essay (4,000 words) - 50% (LO's 1-4)
Final Exam, 3 hours (held during the formal examination period) - 40% (LO's 1-4)

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) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing

Preliminary Reading

Brigitte Marechal and Sami Zemni, The Dynamics of Sunni-Shia Relationships: Doctrine, Transnationalism, Intellectuals and the Media, (London, Hurst&Company, 2013).


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 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4457 22 Feb 2021 01 Mar 2021 31 Mar 2021 28 May 2021 In Person View

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