Learning objectives

MIMES is an innovative program that aims to guide students across this diverse and fascinating region, which, since decades, is at the core of the geostrategic interest of the international system. The program focuses on the contemporary challenges and trends, through a multi-disciplinary approach ranging over international relations, geopolitics, conflicts and security, economy and energy.
Nonetheless, specific sections are devoted to the analysis of the historical and religious foundations of the Middle East, from the birth of Islam to the evolution of Islamic political thought, Islamic law and economy.
The Master in Middle Eastern Studies analyses in details the different areas of the region, from the Maghreb to Southern Asia, to the Levant and the Gulf, encouraging a comparative and holistic area studies approach.


Structure of the master

MIMES is articulated in five complementary levels, fostering multidimensional training and cross-fertilization, integrating scientific methodologies and operative competence

1st Level
Propaedeutic Phase: history, power and institution: the conceptual foundation of the Middle East

Methodological premise: discourse and debate on the ME History of the ME Religion, society and thought in the Islamic ME Islamic law and economy Political and juridical terminology glossary in Arabic ME within the 20th century international order

2nd Level 
In-depth Analytical Phase: sub-regional contexts

Maghreb Mashreq Sub-Saharan Africa South-West Asia and the Gulf Central-Southern Asia

3rd Level 
Thematic and Contemporary Issues

Politics in contemporary ME and the current International Relations context Global security: jihadism, violent activism, conflicts and nuclear proliferation Post-conflict institution building and human security Gender,ethnoreligious diversity and pluralism in the ME Energy and geopolitics of resources Contemporary economic trends

4th Level


5th Level




1st Level - Propaedeutic Phase: history, power and institution: the conceptual foundation of the Middle East

The first level provides students of different academic backgrounds with a broad knowledge of the Middle East, the rise of Islam and its characteristic, with an accurate analysis of the historical evolution of the region and its role within the international system. A dedicated course will offer a linguistic analysis of the political and juridical terminology and a glossary in Arabic. 

Research methods for Middle Eastern Studies

  • Introduction to the Middle Eastern Studies - Riccardo Redaelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • Theories and Methods of Middle Eastern Studies - Francesco Mazzucotelli (Università di Pavia)

History of Muslim societies

  • History of Muslim societies: from the rise of Islam to the end of the Umayyad Empire - Paolo Maggiolini (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • History of Muslim societies: from the Abbasids to World War I - Francesco Mazzucotelli (Università di Pavia)

Islamic philosophy, political thought, institutions and society

  • Islamic political thought: an introduction - Martino Diez (Fondazione OASIS e Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

Islamic economy and finance

  • Islamic Economy - Ersilia Francesca (Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale)
  • Islamic finance in practice: from World Bank (1986) to the TIEF (2018) - Alberto Brugnoni (ASSAIF – TIEF)

Anthropology of the Middle East

  • Anthropology of the Middle East – Estella Carpi (University City London) 

Islamic law

  • Islamic law - Massimo Papa (Università di Roma Tor Vergata)
  • The Islamic perspective on Human rights.Islam and Human Rights in Contemporary Constitutionalism – Andrea Pin (Università degli Studi di Padova)

Study of political and juridical terminology. Glossary in Arabic

  • Glossary in Arabic 1 - Wael Farouq (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • Glossary in Arabic 2 -  Michele Brignone (Fondazione OASIS)

International Relations of the Middle East

  • International Relations of the Middle East - Ibrahim Al-Marashi (California State University San Marcos)

Research Tools

  • UCSC Library Resources, some information literacy tools - Deborah Grbac (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

2nd Level - In-depth Analytical Phase: sub-regional contexts 

Students acquire a detailed knowledge of different sub-regions of the wider Middle East, focusing on their peculiarities and connections with regional and international geopolitical trends. The program encourages the adoption of a comparative methodology, emphasizing the conceptual dichotomy continuity/change, within an historical-political narrative.

Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Postcolonial Maghreb: nation building and the rise of authoritarian regimes - Alessia Melcangi (Università La Sapienza, Roma)
  • Africa and Middle East: Geopolitical Scenarios for the XXI Century - Aldo Pigoli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

Egypt, the Levant, Israel

  • Egypt from Revolution to Revolution (1952-2011) - Gennaro Gervasio (Università degli Studi Roma Tre)
  • Temporalities and perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - Paolo Maggiolini (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • The Levant - Massimiliano Trentin (Università degli Studi di Bologna)

Iraq, Turkey and Central Asia

  • History and politics of Modern Iraq - Andrea Plebani (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • History of Turkey and Central Asia after the Second World War - Federico Donelli (Università degli Studi di Genova)

Iran and Southern Asia

  • History and Politics of Modern Iran - Giorgia Perletta (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • Southern Asia: Afghanistan/Pakistan - Diego Abenante (Università Degli Studi di Trieste)
  • Political Insecurity and the Prospects of Order in the Middle East - Abdolrasool Divsallar (Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies in European University Institute)

The Arabic peninsula: political and security issues

  • Arab Monarchies in the Gulf - Dr. Sara Brzuszkiewicz (Alma Mater Studiorum – Università degli Studi di Bologna)
  • Yemen: Drivers of Conflict and Security Implications - Eleonora Ardemagni (NATO defence foundation)

3rd Level - Thematic and Contemporary Issues 
During the final class term, the program offers a wide portfolio of specializing courses on the most relevant political, geoeconomic and security events and dynamics contributing to the current Middle Eastern unbalances. The program aims to underline in particular the role of the region within the larger international system, and the lesson learnt during the post-Cold War period.

Global security issues

  • Global security: nuclear proliferation in the ME and the Iranian File - Michele Gaietta (JRC – Joint Research Center)
  • Global Jihadism, al-Qa‘ida and the “Islamic State” - Andrea Plebani (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • Arab Development Challenges in the 21st Century: the primacy of the “Political” - Bahgat Korany (American University in Cairo)
  • The Persian Gulf in the international context - Mehran Kamrava (Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar)

Geopolitical trends and international negotiations

  • Geopolitics of the Wider Middle East - Riccardo Redaelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • Negotiating a complex scenario: how to prepare and manage a negotiation process on a regional crisis - Aldo Pigoli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

Economic scenarios in the Middle East

  • Contemporary economic trends of the Middle East – Katarzyna Sidlo (Center for Social and Economic Research)
  • Energy security trends in the Middle East - Massimo Nicolazzi (Università degli Studi di Torino)

Middle East within the current international context

  • Plurality and Minorities in the Middle East - Paolo Maggiolini (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • Social Movements and Political Change in the Middle East and North Africa -  Michele Brignone (Fondazione OASIS)
  • Women in the Arab World. The Female Role in Private and Public Spaces, between Islam, Tradition and Modernity - Elena Maestri (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • The Empowerment of Citizens: Development and Citizenship in the Middle East - Sameh Fawzy (Bibliotheca Alexandrina)

The European Union, the Mediterranean and the migration issue

  • The European Union and the Mediterranean: role, policies and interests - Valeria Talbot (ISPI)
  • Migration Trends and Crisis Management in the Middle East - Estella Carpi (University College London)

Business and economic issues in Middle East and North Africa

  • Doing International Projects for Profit and Non Profit Segments: Economic and business aspects of direct and indirect involvement in projects abroad. Theory and case studies - Marco Latif (Monitor Deloitte)

How to prepare for a career in international organizations

  • How to prepare for a career in international organizations – Soraya Johaar-Glick (Career Development Specialist)

International cooperation and human development in the Middle East

  • International cooperation and human development in the Middle East - Gian Luca Cazzaniga (Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Italia)

4th Level - Project work

In order to get the final diploma of the Master in Middle Eastern Studies students are required to write a personal project work consisting of an interdisciplinary and critical analysis of a specific issue related to Middle Eastern affairs. The specific subject, agreed with a MIMES professor (supervisor), must be approved by the Director of the Master. It is suggested to connect the project work to the internship experience. Scientific knowledge acquired through the Master's courses constitutes the scientific background necessary to develop the research project.


5th Level - Internship or Arabic, Persian or Turkish Language Course (5 credits)

The Master's program is completed with an internship in Italy or abroad within an institution whose mission and activities are consistent with the Master's program. This gives the student the invaluable opportunity to test and strengthen the competencies acquired during the Mater's program and it usually lasts minimum three months. Students will receive support and tutoring for their internship research, specifically concerning CVs and cover letter preparation, vacancies research and internship announcements indication. 
As an alternative, students may choose to attend an Arabic, Persian or Turkish language course. In this case, the course will have to be positively evaluated by the Master's Direction (additional fee depending on the organizing institution may occur).

Assessment and Diploma

1st level Specializing Master's Degree issued by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italian Law D.M. 509/99) will be granted at the end of the Master’s course upon achievement of 60 ECTS credits, gained through the attendance to all the Master activities and the positive results in the examinations taken. All the Master’s activities (exams, internship, project work) must be performed. 


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