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Lots of weekly reading, but it sure is worth it! Be sure to manage your time and DON’T PROCRASTINATE!
Prior to this course, I knew nothing about the Middle East, but after it was done, I learned the history, politics, and reasoning as to why the Middle East is the way it is.
Professor Waxman is extremely bright on this topic. His lectures are very brief but complex.
We also had guest speakers, many of whom are experts in IR of the Middle East. Though, as others have noted, some of the speakers were hard to understand at times.
I felt that the Essay exams were a bit challenging, so it is essential you ask questions and clarifications from your TA because they are the ones who will grade it. Luckily, my TA (Monica) was awesome!
You will have multiple prompts, but only choose 3 to answer in an essay format for the Midterm and Final exam.
One downside for me was the simulation because it was honestly a waste of money. We could’ve just used GroupMe instead.
Over all, this is perhaps one of the best courses I have taken at UCLA – thus far!
This course depends on the TA you get. I thought Professor Waxman was a great professor but he does not do the grading your TAs do. I was fortunate that my TA was helpful but a chunk of the grade depended on the midterm and final so if you did alright on the midterm there is a low chance you can get a regular A. The homework is just a journal assignment each week but it is not strictly graded. In our class, we did a simulation about a current Middle East conflict but near the end, it was just graded as participation which deterred the outcomes the groups had. This course does require more work than you believe but I learned more about the Middle East than I did in my life.
Professor Waxman is very helpful and is willing to help out with any questions about career options or assignments. Just if you are not willing to read about 100 pages a week or are passionate to learn about the Middle East then this course might not be the best option.
This is one of my favorite classes I have taken at UCLA and Professor Waxman has been my favorite professor. You will learn a lot if you engage with the class material. The workload is pretty heavy with 50-100 pages of reading a week that require you to write a one-page reflection about them. The midterm and final papers consist of three essays each that are 750-1200 words each. There is also a simulation at the end of the quarter that can take up a lot of your time if you want it to, but it was graded on participation. If you want to learn a lot, especially about something as complex as the Middle East, then this class is for you. His lectures are recorded and are extremely structured and comprehensible.
I'm a second year Poli Sci major and I found this class to be among the best I've taken at UCLA. Prof Waxman gives fantastic lectures, and frequently invites guest lecturers. While I found the guest lecturers to be fairly hit or miss, they were still a nice way to break up some of the monotony of online classes.
The class does involve a fair, but significant amount of reading each week (about 50 or so pages). While 50 pages a week may not sound like a lot, the readings are very dense and can sometimes be complex, requiring a lot of time to complete.
The midterm and the final each involve writing 3 essays, each of which is about 1k words or so. The grading leniency depends on your TA, but I found it to be tough, but overall rather fair.
The other assignments are 1-2 page journals about each week's readings which must be submitted to the TA each Thursday (more of a formality, really, as these are really just there to give you free points).
There was also a simulation, which costs $30 to participate in, and was reminiscent of Model UN, where students were assigned into delegations and had to resolve a Middle Eastern conflict. I thought the simulation was great, and it was both helpful as a learning tool, and as a fun side activity.
All in all, I'd highly recommend this class if you're interested at all in Middle Eastern politics. It has definitely both improved my understanding of the region, and also contributed to my interest in learning more about it in the future.
People below are capping about how great this professor is and how 'easy' the material is. I'm not one of those douches who say a class is easy and spend ********** hours editing and revising my essays. It required some time to do well in the essays tbh. If you like the material and are willing to put in the work, I'm sure you will do well like I did. The professor is alright, not great, not bad. He told students who couldn't attend due to timezone differences to drop, which is a turn off.
All the reviews before me are right. The class isn't all that difficult, the workload isn't terrible (although the readings can be time-consuming), and the journals were actually fairly helpful to decompress the info. In fact, depending on how well you wrote your journals, some of the work the midterm/final required was laid out for you ahead of time.
But, how am I supposed to leave a review for Waxman when he only lectured half the time? The guest lectures were fascinating, yes, but some of the guests did not lecture effectively. Some were so bad I questioned my attendance in class (which was mandatory up until Week 8 or so). When it came time for the exams, which were essay-based and required you to make a coherent argument, it became extremely difficult to try and use scatter-brained guest lectures as sources to make your point. This was especially difficult for the midterm, which already had pretty poorly written exam questions. He was fairly lenient though, and very personable, and his TAs were amazing, so I'm not too bent out of shape. The class is not hard, but it got really frustrating to see Waxman hand classes off to guests when none of them came remotely close to being as good a lecturer as he was. He's new to UCLA, but he's certainly not new to teaching, so while I'm inclined to say give him a chance, passing the buck to guest lecturers for 11 of the 15 class lectures really isn't something that can be excused for lack of experience.
Tl;dr: Take it for the material, not for the professor. The embodiment of "meh."
tl;dr: I would recommend this class to political science majors because of its interesting/useful content, grading leniency and bc it's clear the professor cares a lot about the course. I'm a fourth year poli sci major and I can def say he is among the good professors I've had at UCLA.
The content was often dense (especially the readings) and things got confusing, (just the nature of the topic I guess) but this was offset by the assignments and exams and actual grading of the class which was pretty lenient in my opinion. The professor often had guest speakers for the lectures which was neat, while his own lectures were pretty engaging and his fancy accent kept things interesting. My TA Max P. was helpful and led a pleasant discussion, even when a lot of us struggled to answer those tough questions.
I think Prof. Waxman is a new professor, so I'll outline what the class entailed for anyone wondering:
-attendance in lectures and discussion was mandatory (until the end of the quarter he removed this requirement - I'm not sure if this is being carried forward in the next quarters), -grade makeup: weekly journals for the week's readings (you can choose to do it on as many readings as you want, my TA accepted 1-2 double spaced pages), participation in discussion is a chunk of the grade, take-home midterm where we answer 3 out of 5 essay questions, a simulation of a peace conference done via slack that is sort of a group project type deal (I dreaded this a little but it ended up being less of a pain than I thought!! even interesting), a take-home final that he gave us extra time for that is similar to the midterm - choosing essay questions to write on.
-you do have to buy a textbook, and the simulation was $30 just an fyi so if you don't want to spend money maybe avoid
This review is long but I wanted to leave my thoughts since a lot of students were on the unreasonable side, complaining that the class was too difficult when in reality it was pretty fair tbh. Not easy, not a pain in the butt by any means.
- Lectures are interesting, he is incredibly knowledgeable about a wide range of issues and history in the Middle East
- Material covers a lot of ground and gives you a ton of things to think/write about
- The textbook was pricey, and only half of our readings came from it. The simulation was an additional cost of $30
- The simulation was fun, but we did not get nearly enough instruction or direction beforehand. There was a lot of confusion in the week leading up to the simulation, but overall it was a good experience
- Assignments include weekly journals on the readings (1 page), the midterm and final are three essays 750-1200 words each
Waxman is a wonderful professor who gave me a lot of insightful on the Middle East and their politics. I felt the class was structured a bit weirdly, there was definitely a lot of presumed knowledge regarding Middle Eastern affairs which was a learning curve for me since this class was my first exposure to terms such as "jihadism" or "Pan-Arabism." If you take this class with Brigid Morris as your TA, I would highly advise you unenroll and either take a different IR class or switch sections. Her feedback was far too critical and didn't touch on the actual content we should be applying from the course. She seemed to have a very limited perspective on what made a "good" political science essay and graded WAY harsher than the other TA for the course (no-one from her sections got higher than a 91 on either the midterm or the final). Plus, even if her feedback was coherent and applicable to an undergraduate level (which it wasn't), she got back to us very late in the quarter with graded work. She was still uploading comments on the required weekly responses hours before the final was supposed to be submitted. Overall, I did not have a good time in the course, despite the fact Waxman seems like a genuinely kind and knowledgeable professor. I would not take another course with Brigid as my Teaching Assistant.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed taking Waxman's class. As a Professor, Waxman is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject matter and structures the class ins such a way so all students can earn an A. I thought having background info on the subject was really helpful in writing the midterm and final papers, but it definitely isn't a necessity. Waxman was also more than willing to make accommodations for his students, which was great.
The one thing I disliked about the class was that Waxman virtually had guest speakers for all the classes. This was good because we were able to hear from people with years of expertise in the field. However, I personally enjoyed Waxman's lectures more than I did the lectures of the guest lecturerers. There certainly were a few guest lecturers that were great, however, Waxman was more engaging overall.