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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Part II | Convenor: Dr Assef Ashraf

Course description 2023-24

This paper examines in some detail aspects of the history of the Middle East, either in a particular region and period, or addressing particular themes.

This paper introduces students to the Timurid, Safavid, Mughal, and Qajar empires — the empires that ruled the Persian-speaking Islamic world (Iran, Central Asia, and India) from ca. 1400 to 1900. Rather than studying these empires in isolation from one another, the paper highlights points of comparison as well as points of divergence between them. Lectures in Michaelmas move chronologically while in Lent we will shift to a thematic and comparative approach. We will read a wide range of primary and secondary sources but no prior knowledge of the region or of Persian is required (all sources will be in translation). An organizing thread in the paper is of the historical significance of Persian in this part of the Islamic world, and of the complex, multifaceted, and unexpected relationship between language and political and imperial culture.

Form and Conduct

This paper will consist of eight essay questions, of which candidates will be required to answer three. All questions will carry equal marks.



This description is subject to change, for the latest information, students should consult the Undergraduate Handbook available on the Faculty Intranet.


Terms taught
Michaelmas, Lent, Easter
Michaelmas, Lent, Easter
Michaelmas, Lent, Easter