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Politics and society in Palestine from 1900-1948 HI3019-03/05

This course will enable you to understand, firstly, the Ottoman background to politics and society in Palestine; then to study the process by which Britain acquired Palestine during the First World War.

Subsequently, the programme looks at interaction of British policy and interests, and Jewish and Arab society up till the establishment of the state of Israel. The course also considers the development of modern forms of organisation and ideology, particularly nationalism.

You will be guided in the scrutiny of texts, and their evaluation. You will also be encouraged to be independent and original in your research and be expected to give polished oral presentations.


30 Credits

Topics covered

  • The effect on society of the Tanzimat reforms and the spread of the world economy on society in Palestine
  • the three incompatible promises made by the British during the First World War
  • the emergence of Zionism and its role in the shaping of Palestine
  • various British attempts to reconcile and control the opposing Communities
  • the emergence and evolution of Palestine Arab nationalism
  • the impact of the Wailing Wall riots of 1929
  • the role of the Arab notables, particularly the Mufti of Jerusalem
  • the debate on land sales and immigration in relation to the Great Arab Revolt
  • the views of the leaders of the Arab states and their influence on British policy; the aims and ideological position of the Jewish terrorists
  • the post-war period, internationalisation, the US and the UN.

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand the origins of historical controversy
  • Evaluate the significance, strengths and limitations of primary sources
  • Scrutinise, analyse and interpret historical documents
  • Comprehend, criticise and develop the views in the secondary literature
  • Produce a clear, coherent argument based on the evidence
  • Students who take the dissertation element will, in addition, be able to:
  • Write a well argued, clearly structured long essay (dissertation) using principally primary sources.


  • HI3019-03 (10,000-word dissertation 100%)
  • HI3019-05 Exam (80%) Essay (10%) and Reflective journal and forum posts (10%).

Essential reading

  • M.E. Yapp, The Near East since the First World War (Longman's 1991)
  • W. Khalidi, Before the Diaspora: a Photgraphic History of Palestine 1876-1948 (1991)
  • B. Morris, Righteous Victims: a History of the Zionist Arab Conflict 1981-1999 (2000)
  • Books to be provided by the student:
  • C.D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict (Macmillan 2000)