• Class Number 6931
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Alam Saleh
    • Dr Alam Saleh
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

This course presents an interdisciplinary overview of politics and security in contemporary Iran. It discusses the geopolitical, geostrategic and geographical importance of Iran for the region. Key domestic security challenges to the state are outlined and studied. Taking a knowledge-based and experiential approach, the course explores six core interconnected divisions most relevant to Iran and the region. These divisions are social (class division), societal (identity-based division), national (people-state division), political (division within the political system), regional (regional rivalry) and international divisions (great power politics and the region). The course provides an intellectual and analytical framework for engagement with the issues facing the region and Iran's linkages to them.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key issues and debates regarding political and security issues in contemporary Iran; 
  2. illustrate an ability to relate Iran’s political, and ideological discourses within the context of the wider Middle East regional security complex; 
  3. demonstrate the capacity to develop evidence-based argument and evaluation encompassing the full range of internal and external security aspects of the country in past and present; 
  4. integrate interdisciplinary perspective on Iran and the region with larger theoretical evaluations such as international relations theory and critical security studies; and
  5. develop knowledge about Iran’s internal, regional and international issues through research and analysis.

Research-Led Teaching

The lecturer has published extensively on Iran internal and regional politics and security. The lecturer is also involved in several ongoing research plans on Iran, and expects several publications in the next few years. The findings of his research projects informs his teachings in this course.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment


Required Resources



Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Critical Iran Studies: Theories and Approaches The introductory session begins with outlining and defining some of the key terms, concepts, and theories relevant to the course. It first starts by problematising some of the general understandings of the country and the region, and offers critical views to help us revisit Iran’s politics and security policies, its interaction with the Middle East, and international powers.
2 The Formation of Modern Iran: The Question of Nation-State Building This session presents an overview of the modern history of Iran since the advent of the 20th century. It thus examines the emergence of modern Iran, especially since 1925, and the process of nation-state building by studying state and society, changes and the challenges facing the state up to the present day.
3 Identities and Ideologies: Nationalism and Islamism in Iran This session delves further into the complexity of nation-state building since the emergence of modern Iran. The session particularly focuses on the role of nationalism, and Islamism as Iran’s two key components of national identity making during the Pahlavi era and the Islamic Republic since 1979.
4 Understanding the Political Structure of Iran and its Foreign Policy Discourses This session examines Iran’s political and power structure. It also studies state’s foreign and domestic policies. Different institutions and offices such as the role of the supreme leader, political fragmentation and power struggles within the political system, the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and political parties/factions will be investigated.
5 Internal Security Challenges: Social and Societal Divisions in Iran The session then moves on to study socio-political shifts and changes during the different political phases since the emergence of modern Iran. The module particularly explores social and societal particularities of Iranian society by focusing on ethnic, religious, and sectarian minorities, as well as youth and women, and the de-Islamisation of Iranian society and their impact on the state’s internal security and legitimacy. The session thus focuses on social divisions and ethno-religious minorities in Iran.
6 Economic and Environmental Security: Human Security Dimensions This session by adopting more critical approaches towards security, seeks to explore human security issues such as the economy, development, environmental issues, water scarcity, demographic transition, unemployment, migration and drug trafficking. The session also delves into the state's economic corruption, and the impact of sanctions on its the socio-political position.
7 Iran’s Security Doctrine: Internal-External Security Nexus In this session we will discuss Tehran’s security doctrine from ideological and military points of view. Iran’s regional ambitions and ideological discourses on state and identity security will be studied. As such, Iran’s nuclear programme and rational behind it will be investigated. The session will also look at Tehran’s military might, and its strategy towards external threats in the region and beyond.
8 Iran and the New Middle East Security Architecture In this session we argue that Middle East regional security complex has changed since 2003 Iraq war. Changes in the balance of power have led into Iran’s rising power and influence in the region. As such, the session focuses on the question of Iran’s interaction with the region, and aims to explore how Tehran attempted to change the region’s security architecture in its favour.
9 Iran and Shi’a Militia Politics in the Region In this session we will be examining Iran’s influence and interference in the region, and how Tehran has cultivated, mobilised and instrumentalised Shi’a armed groups to change the established regional security status quo. The session, therefore, examines Iran’s Shi’a militia politics and proxy wars in the region with particular focus on Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hashd Al-Shaabi in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen.
10 Iran and the United States: Geopolitical Confrontation This session began with a brief historical overview of Iran and the United States relations since the 1940s. Then, by looking at some of the key historical events, the session analyses how the relationship between the two countries has been shaped and reshaped in the past four decades. The session also explores the geopolitical implications of the deep enmity between the two countries since 1979.
11 Iran and Global Powers: Russia, China, and the European Union The session studies the role of Iran in today's international relations with particular focus on the three other global powers, China, Russia, and the EU. The session then moves on to assess the implication of such relations on the balance of power in the Middle East, and the Indo-pacific regions.
12 Iran, International Organisations and Third World Politics The final session studies the relationship between Iran and some of the key international organisation such as the UN, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Iran’s Third Worldist approach towards international relations, especially with countries in South America and Africa, will also be discussed.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Tutorial Assessment: In-class Presentation. 10 % 1,2,3,4,5
Project Work: Reaction Papers 40 % 1,2,3,4,5
Essay 50 % 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Tutorial Assessment: In-class Presentation.

Students will be asked to present 10 minutes on a topic of their choice about Iran people, power and politics in week 4. This task aims to enhance students’ presentation skills and to raise their awareness of some of the key issues relevant to the course. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Project Work: Reaction Papers

Students are asked to submit two 1000-word Reaction Papers (20% each) , in week 6 and week 10 on a topic of their choice. This task is planned in order to enhance students writing reports and also keep them engaged with topics taught throughout of the course. 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5


This 3000-words essay for undergrads task to be submitted in week 12, provides students with opportunity to delve deeper in reflecting on what they have learnt and how to express their learning experience in research on a topic of their choice about Iran. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Alam Saleh

Research Interests

Iranian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Security Studies, International Relations

Dr Alam Saleh

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Alam Saleh

Research Interests

Dr Alam Saleh

By Appointment
By Appointment

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