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About Us

The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (popularly known as BRISMES) was established in 1973 to encourage and promote the study of the Middle East in the United Kingdom.

It brings together teachers, researchers, students, diplomats, journalists and others who deal professionally with the Middle East. Membership is open to all the above, regardless of nationality - indeed regardless of where in the world you are based.

At the national level, the Society pursues a concerted strategy by impressing on national, governmental and university bodies the importance of safeguarding and expanding Middle Eastern studies. In the UK's Research Assessment Exercise, BRISMES fulfils a consultative role to the organising higher education funding bodies.

Our international links make the Society the foremost channel through which scholars outside Britain may create co-opeerative links with UK-based researchers. Links between BRISMES and Middle East studies associations elsewhere in the world are constantly being expanded (as is our international membership). BRISMES has traditionally played a prominent role in the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies (EURAMES). We also have links with The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). In 2007 we became one of the Societies to receive funding from the British Academy.

The well-established British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies - an internationally refereed publication with varied scholarly articles and a large book-review section - is commercially published (four times a year) by Taylor and Francis for BRISMES. If you are a member, you get it free - along with the Newsletter, which is full of information about what is happening in the field (conferences, the latest publications, research, scholarships, jobs, etc).

The Society also organises public annual lectures. Recent lectures include Baroness Haleh Afshar speaking on Islam and the Politics of Resistance: the Case of Women in Iran, Professor Roger Owen on 'British and French Military Intelligence in Syria and Palestine, 1914-18: Myths and Reality.  Yasir Suleiman gave the 2008 Annual Lecture on 'Arabic and I'.  Previous recent speakers include Carole Hillenbrand who spoke on 'Images of Saladin, Past and Present' and other recent speakers include Charles Tripp and Philip Robins. Texts of the lectures feature in the Journal.

Previous speakers include Roger Owen, Tony Allan, Fred Halliday, Sir James Craig,HRH Prince Hassan of Jordan, HE Dr Ghazi al-Gosaibi, the Saudi Ambassador in Britain and a well-known poet and Rodney Wilson.

There is also, of course, the other big annual event, drawing attendance from all over the world: the BRISMES Annual Conference, which attracts the latest research on all aspects of Middle Eastern studies in Britain and beyond. Members enjoy a reduced rate here, too.

The Society makes an Annual Award for Services to Middle Eastern Studies: 

BRISMES Award for Services to Middle Eastern Studies in Britain


The terms of reference for this award are as follows: 


“The award is intended for persons or organisations who have made a consistent contribution to Middle East studies in Britain over a period of years or to a person or organisation who has made an outstanding single contribution over the pervious year.  Anyone or any organisation fulfilling these criteria, as specified below, is eligible, without exception on the basis of nationality, residence, profession or background.  The following are guidelines to the criteria that BRISMES will consider but BRISMES will accept nominations outside these guidelines if the proposer makes a persuasive case for doing so.


a)         For an outstanding record in published research on the Middle East

b)         For the establishment of new departments or significantly expanding positions in the field of Middle East Studies

c)         For providing/winning major new resources for Middle East studies in Britain

d)         For exceptional contributions to raising the profile of Middle East Studies in and outside the UK.”


Council as a whole is to decide upon this award. 


Recipients of the Award are:


HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi (2001)

Professor William Montgomery Watt (2002)

Dr Derek Hopwood, OBE (2003)

Professor Ann Lambton (2004)

Professor Geoffrey Lewis (2005)

Professor Harry Norris (2006)

Professor Edmund Bosworth (2007)

Professor Fred Halliday (2008)

Professor Roger Owen (2009)

Patrick Seale (2010)

Sir Harold Walker (2011)

Professor The Baroness Haleh Afshar, OBE (2012)