Lesson Plan: Introduction to Iran's Structure of Government

Division of Power in Iran

The division of power in Iran is described.


The Islamic Republic of Iran was established in its current form in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution. The system of government that was established was a theocratic republic with three branches of government underneath the Supreme Leader. This lesson introduces the structure of government in Iran and includes clips from interviews with experts and programs aired on Iran's state-run media, PressTV.


  • STEP 1:

    Warm-Up Questions

    • What do you know about Iran?

    • Explain what you know about Islam.

    • In the United States, what role does religion play in our government?
  • STEP 2:

    Briefly explain where Iran is located and provide an overview of Islam.

  • STEP 3:

    Pass out the following handout.

    Handout: Introduction to Iran's Structure of Government (Google Doc)

    Show the first video clip and have the students answer the following questions. After viewing the clips, review the answers as a class. Explain the terms Ayatollah, Supreme Leader and President so students are familiar with it for later clips.

    • Describe the authority and position of the President of Iran? How is he elected?

    • Describe the authority and position of the Ayatollah as the Supreme Leader in Iran?

    • What is the Iranian Parliament? How does its authority compare to the authority of the Supreme Leader and the President in Iran?
  • Video Clip 1: Division of Power in Iran (:42)

  • STEP 4:

    Have the students view the remaining clips and answer the questions on the handout. Review the answers at the end.

    Video Clip 2: Iranian Presidential Oath of Office (2:49)

    Video Clip 3: Ayatollah Khamenei and the 2009 Iranian Elections (2:01)

    Video Clip 4: The Iranian Supreme Leader and the President (1:43)

    Video Clip 5: The Iranian Green Revolution (5:11)

    Video Clip 6: President Ahmadinejad's address to the Iranian Parliament (2:53)

    Video Clip 7: Iran and the Role of Religion in Society (2:56)

  • STEP 5:

    As a class, have the students use what they just learned about Iran to answer the question below.

    What would a religious democracy look like in the United States?

    Break the class up into six groups and assign them one of the topics below. Have each group first discuss this and then report out to the class how this change would impact:

    • Laws of the Country

    • Structure of Government

    • Culture and society

    • The Media

    • Rights of Citizens

    • Economics and Business
  • STEP 6:

    Exit Slip - have the students answer the following question:

    • What are the benefits and drawbacks of religion playing larger roles in governments like in Iran?

    Amending the Iranian Constitution- Using the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran come up with amendments that might fix some of the issues that were discussed in the clips.

    CIA World Factbook- Using the CIA World Factbook for Iran review each of the sections. Using that information, explain why Iran is suited for this system of government. Take history, culture, ethnic groups, population, economy and other topics into consideration.

    Additional writing prompts- Have students provide a written response to any of the following prompt.

    • How effective is the Islamic Republic of Iran in governing?
    • Explain the necessary characteristics of a country that would be best suited for a religious democracy.

Additional Resources


  • Ayatollah
  • Bureaucracy
  • Cleric
  • Green Revolution
  • Islam
  • Islamic Revolution
  • Parliament
  • President
  • Regime
  • Religious Democracy
  • Revolutionary Guard
  • Supreme Leader
  • Theocracy


Comparative GovernmentGeography


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