Welcome to the Institute of Iranian Studies


The Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews was formally launched on 31st October 2006 by Seyyid Mohammad Khatami. The foundation of the Institute was made possible through a generous benefaction the centre-piece of which will be a Persian language library of some 12,000 books. These books will be selected from a full list of Iranian publications and will reflect the strengths of the University of St Andrews in History, Politics and International Relations. The collection, which will be housed in the Main Library, will be the largest resource of its kind in the United Kingdom, if not Western Europe, and will form the basis of research and teaching in all aspects of Iranian Studies at St Andrews.

The function of the Institute is to encourage and facilitate research and teaching in all aspects of Iranian civilisation and culture. The philosophy of the Institute is inclusivity and engagement. While the principle beneficiaries of the Institute’s resources will be students and staff at the University of St Andrews, the collection and the research facilities will be open to all interested parties subject to a letter of introduction and registration.

Recent Research:

The proceedings of the conference, on Iranian Historiography  is due for publication this year by I B Tauris. For detail see here.

Professor Ansari's recent book length study of the 'Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran' is due for publication with Cambridge University Press in 2012. 

Ali Ansari, explores the idea of nationalism in the creation of modern Iran. It does so by considering broader developments in national ideologies which took place following the emergence of the European Enlightenment, and showing how these ideas were taken up by a non-European state.  The book charts a course through twentieth-century Iran, analyzing the growth of ideas and their impact on the state, and demonstrating the connections between historiographical and political developments. In so doing, the study shows just how the different regimes manipulated ideologies of nationalism and collective historical memory, to suit their own ends. Firmly relocating Reza Shah within the context of the Constitutional Revolution the study argues that his son’s identification with a monarchy by Divine Right bore a greater resemblance to, and facilitated the religious nationalism that catapulted Ayatollah Khomeini to power on the back of a populist and highly personalized mythology. Drawing on hitherto untapped sources, the book concludes that it was the revolutionary developments and changes that occurred during the first half of the twentieth century, which paved the way for the radicalisation that was to follow

Recent News:

Chevening Scholarship Scheme

The FCO’s Chevening scholarship scheme will soon be accepting applications from Iranian students for the academic year 2015/16. 

A Chevening Scholarship will enable successful candidates to study at one of the UK’s top universities and become part of an influential and highly regarded global network. The programme covers tuition fees, travel and visa costs as well as a monthly stipend. 

Chevening has been running for over 30 years.  The wider benefits of a Chevening Scholarship include a tailored engagement programme, creating opportunities for Scholars to network with fellow Scholars and alumni, the FCO, high profile speakers, and select UK organisations. Through this, the Scholarships provide a unique opportunity for leaders of the future to build a global network of continuing professional significance and to establish social, cultural, academic and commercial partnerships with the UK.

Applications open on 1st August.  If you want to find out more about the scheme and the eligibility requirements, please check http://www.chevening.org/iran/ or contact Helen Flewker (Helen.Flewker@fco.gov.uk)

Public lecture series: Kingship in ancient Iran

30th April, 7th May, 14th May, Room S11, Swallowgate, School of Classics

Speaker: Dr Arash Zeini, Research Fellow, School of History (Iranian Studies)
Organised jointly by the School of Classics, School of History and Institute of Iranian Studies

More information

Kingship in Ancient Iran Workshop

12–13 June 2014, University of St Andrews

The attempts of the Sasanian kings to define themselves as the heirs of the Achaemenid dynasty on the one hand, and the rivalries with the Roman Empire on the other, offer a variegated backdrop against which the idea of kingship and religious authority can be fruitfully examined. This interdisciplinary workshop will seek to investigate and re-examine intersections between religious ideology and sovereignty in ancient Iran. Some of the pertinent questions we wish to examine include: Does the Middle Persian literary tradition, including the exegetical literature, reflect the imperial aspirations of the Sasanians? In which ways does the centre of gravity shift between sovereignty and religious authority during the Sasanian era? And how did other, non-Zoroastrian religious communities interact with and interpret the image of the Sasanian kings? This workshop’s ultimate aim will be to move beyond the paradigm of sacred kingship, assessing how recent developments in Iranian Studies and neighbouring disciplines impact our knowledge of ancient Iranian forms of sovereignty.

More information is available by visting the workshop website

More news >