About Us

About the Middle East Studies Programme

The responsibility for the graduate study of the Modern Middle Eastern at Oxford University is divided into three parts. Firstly, the Faculty of Oriental Studies oversees the main teaching programme for the one-year MSc degree, and the two-year MPhil, as well as the supervision of doctoral research.  Secondly, OSGA shares the thematic teaching load of the Middle East with Oriental Studies, and faculty members attached to each Division teach across the Modern Middle East degree programmes.  Thirdly, the Middle East Centre of St. Antony’s College, has a close relationship with both OSGA and Oriental Studies and coordinates general activities related to the Modern Middle East. These include contributing to the organisation of teaching programmes and running a regular interdisciplinary seminar series which includes historical, political, economic, cultural, and social themes. The combined efforts of all three parts make for a rewarding intellectual collaboration in Middle Eastern teaching and research across the social sciences.

In October 2018, OSGA welcomed its first intake of 8 students onto the newly introduced one-year MSc in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, which complements the one-year MSc degrees offered in OSGA’s other regional units. It was also only the second year of OSGA’s DPhil in Area Studies, and the first year that a dedicated Modern Middle Eastern cohort was incorporated into the programme.

In 2014, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) began a funded Fellowship Programme in conjunction with OSGA’s Middle East faculty, under the supervision of Professor Philip Robins (former Director of the MES Programme), to develop an inter-disciplinary collaborative research agenda for postdoctoral research. This agenda, which focusses on 'Minorities, Sectarianism and Civil Society' has to date seen 7 Fellows appointed to look at diverse areas of inquiry and has brought together scholars and practitioners to further understand the challenges faced by ‘minorities’ and civil society in the face of major upheavals and transformations in the Middle East. These have included: gender politics in Iran and Turkey, the role of faith-based charity organisations in the Middle East, the construction of Coptic Christian identity in colonial Egypt, and the Alevi movement in Turkey, international interventions carried out in the name of peace in the post-Cold War in Lebanon; and governance in Jordan. The most recent event organised by fellows was a three-session online conference in February 2021 entitled 'Western Intervention in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings: Political Containment, Neoliberalism, and Imperial Legacies'. Previous events have included a panel at the Middle East Studies Association annual conference entitled ‘Limitations and Opportunities of Religious Activism in the Middle East’; a one-day workshop held at St Antony’s College on ‘Ethno-religious ‘Minorities’ and Mobilisation in the Middle East’; and a three-day international conference entitled ‘Rethinking Nationalism, Sectarianism and Ethno-Religious Mobilisation in the Middle East’ that brought together 37 speakers from 11 different countries in panels chaired by 10 leading experts on Islam and the Middle East. 

Since September 2019, Professor Yaacov Yadgar, an expert on Israeli Studies, has been the Director of OSGA’s Middle East Programme. Other academic staff working directly on the programme include Professor Lena Salaymeh, who joined as a British Academy Global Professor in September 2020. 

Our administrator, Stephen Minay can be contacted at middle.east@area.ox.ac.uk and is happy to help with enquiries about the activities of the unit.