Middle Eastern Studies


Note: The Middle Eastern Studies programme is on hiatus until the security situation improves.


The YCMES offers a wide range of university-level courses on contemporary Middle Eastern Studies. The faculty is comprised of the world’s most distinguished regional specialists, most of whom hold professorial appointments at leading universities.  The program is administered by Dr. Steven C. Caton, Honorary Dean of the College.

This summer, the YCMES is welcoming two new professors to its staff.  Dr. Gamal Gasim will be teaching a course entitled The Politics of Yemen. and Dr. Mohammed al-Nood will lead a course on archaeology.  More details on Dr. al-Nood's Archaeology of Ancient Yemen will follow soon.  For a list of past courses, click here.

College enrollment is kept small to make both student-to-faculty as well as student-to-student interactions more accessible and appealing. The YCMES tries to maintain a diversified student body by welcoming qualified individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds and education levels (undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate). YCMES hopes students will learn as much from their peers and their varied experiences in the Middle East as they will from their instructors.

Classes are conducted in English, although in exceptional cases, and if student preparation allows, instruction can be offered in Arabic.  Classes are largely held in a seminar style.  Occasional lectures and cultural performances are presented to the whole student body and independent studies with individual professors are possible when instructor availability permits. While the course work of most classes is equivalent to the average US undergraduate work-load, classes may contain a separate graduate component with a greater number of required readings, or simply more challenging and specialized assignments.

Depending on the nature of the course, studying at YCMES may involve field trips to various places in Yemen, or supervised site visits for research purposes. We like to make the most of the fact that the course is being held in Yemen to combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience.

At the YCMES, we believe that the Arabic language is a vital part of understanding the region, and as a result, we encourage Middle Eastern Studies students to take Arabic classes here as well. The two programs are designed to complement each other.

Anth Class


Philosophy of the Curriculum

While the study of the region’s pre-history and pre-modern history (pre-Islamic, early Islamic and medieval Islamic periods) is often well served at Western universities, the study of the contemporary Middle East is often underrepresented, if represented at all, at these same institutions. To offset this imbalance, the College’s curriculum focuses on the study of the contemporary Middle East, with historical courses only offered for background.

Courses range in topic (e.g., religion, gender, development, and politics) and discipline (e.g., anthropology, economics, geography, history, literature and the arts, political science, and sociology), but individual courses are usually inter-disciplinary in any case.