Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Contemporary Mediterranean History

UM LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course




DESCRIPTION This course of lectures investigates the history of the Mediterranean in international relations since the end of the Second World War. Seeing in the Mediterranean region a microcosm of the experience of the post-war world, it deals with it at once as a region with a common experience and as a sum of the experiences of countries lined along its littoral. To do this the course roams between the global issues which had a high impact on the region in contemporary history, sub-regional issues involving clusters of neighbouring states, and the vicissitudes of the individual Mediterranean states as they relate to, illustrate, and help define the nature of the contemporary Mediterranean.

More specifically lectures will discuss the impact on the Mediterranean of the Cold War, decolonization, the lure of nonalignment, north-south relations, reconstruction, integration and disintegration. At a sub-regional level emphasis is made on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Balkan and Aegean tensions, European integration of its Mediterranean periphery, and inter-Maghrebi relations. Individual states will be discussed in terms of their main internal and external challenges, and how the nature of these vary from one part of the Mediterranean to the other; their neighbourly relations, whether collaborative or adversarial; their interaction with the big external players, in particular the United States, the Soviet Union (while it lasted), and the European Community (later European Union); and their concern for, or indifference to, the Mediterranean idea. Lectures will seek to relate the narrative of Mediterranean history since 1945 to the problems and issues that are still relevant today, as the region continues to be in a state of flux and to house unresolved deep-rooted conflicts.


• To support students’ knowledge of recent international history with the inclusion of a strong Mediterranean component, in line with the Mediterranean focus and tradition of the History Department;
• To use the Mediterranean as a case study in the understanding of a wide variety of contemporary global issues;
• To demonstrate the relevance of history to the understanding of the Mediterranean we live in.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Locate the place of the contemporary Mediterranean in the bigger global picture of international relations;
• Understand the relevance of the ‘Mediterranean idea’;
• Grasp the complexity of the region’s recent historical legacy and avoid simplistic characterization and stereotyping;
• Gain useful insights into the underlying causes and drivers of the great movements and developments that are still going on in the Mediterranean today.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Organize, synthesise and observe patterns from apparently scattered knowledge;
• Apply historical knowledge to any life situations requiring a grasp of current affairs;
• Draw on the knowledge acquired in any competitive examinations or interviews which require awareness of the contemporary world.

Reading List

The Middle East and North Africa: Suggested Reading
• Fouad Ajami, The Arab Predicament (second edition), Cambridge 1992.
• T.G. Fraser, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, London 1995.
• Doreen Ingrams, Palestine Papers, 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict, Murray 1972.
• Peter Mansfield, The Arabs, London 1992.
• Alan R. Taylor, The Superpowers and the Middle East, New York 1991.

Western Mediterranean Europe: Suggested Reading
• Raymond Carr, Modern Spain, 1875-1980, Oxford 1980.
• Robert Gildea, France since 1945, Oxford 2002.
• Maurice Larkin, France since the Popular Front, 1936-1986, Oxford 1988.
• Roger Morgan, West European Politics since 1945, Batsford 1972.
• Patrick McCarthy, Italy since 1945, Oxford 2000.

Eastern Mediterranean Europe: Suggested Reading
• Kristo Frasheri & Skender Anamali, The History of Albania, London 1981.
• Misha Glenny, The Balkans, 1804-1999: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, London 2000.
• Geoffrey Lewis, Modern Turkey, London 1974.
• Stavros Panteli, A New History of Cyprus, London 1984.
• Stevan Pavlowitch, The Improbable Survivor: Yugoslavia and its Problems, 1918-1988, London 1988.
• Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Cambridge 2002.
• C.M. Woodhouse, The Story of Modern Greece, London 1968.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%



The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.