Special Subject: Palestine from the Ottomans to Nakba Part 1 (V1424A)

15 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

You will examine the great upheavals in Palestinian society that occurred during the First World War and immediately afterwards.

In this period, the devastation caused by the First World War interplayed with the shift from Ottoman to British imperial rule. This was set against a background of rising Arab national sentiment and the emerging Zionist question.

You’ll use a variety of primary source material that has only recently become available. Through this, you’ll gain insights into the ways that ordinary Palestinians – be they Muslims, Christians or Jews – experienced these upheavals.

Geographically, we will focus on Jerusalem. This was the spiritual and political capital of Palestine and the place where many first-hand accounts of the war are set.

Through these ordinary lives, we’ll examine wider debates connected to the history of Palestine in the early 20th century. We’ll look backwards to the late Ottoman period as well as forwards to the trauma of 1948 and beyond.

Topics may include:

  • navigating the hardships of war: plague, famine and military conscription
  • the entertainment industry in Jerusalem: music, theatre and prostitution
  • women's lives in wartime Palestine: change and continuity
  • the political sphere: Ottoman legacies, Arab nationalism and the coming of Zionism
  • the arrival of the British mandate
  • opposing British rule
  • colonial lives in Palestine
  • contested memories: 1948 and the struggle over Palestinian history.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: