Religious Studies research cluster

The Religious Studies research cluster aims to provide a context in which postgraduate research can flourish. That’s why it draws upon the expertise of academic staff across a variety of disciplines and offers a vast array of research methods and approaches to a range of religions.


Furthermore, it has substantial links to the department’s other research groupings, including the Centre for Philosophy of Religion, the Centre for Charismatic and Evangelical Studies, the Biblical Studies research cluster and the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, meaning that postgraduate research takes place in a fully supported, fully integrated environment.

Research topics within the religious studies cluster tend be formed around an interest in contemporary religion in a historical perspective and vice versa. Some of these topics include:

  •  Sikh studies
  •  Islamic studies
  •  Asian religions
  •  Quaker studies
  •  Inter-religious relations
  •  Contemporary religion and society
  •  Jewish and Holocaust Studies


The core members of staff in the Theology and Religion department who work in Religious Studies are:

Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal is a lecturer in Sikh studies. She is primarily concerned with contemporary Sikhism, including Sikhs and the law, gender studies and Sikhism, and Sikhism and science.

Dr Sharada Sugirtharajah is a senior lecturer in Hindu studies. Her research focuses on representation of Hinduism in colonial and postcolonial writings.

Dr Mustafa Draper is a lecturer in Islam and contemporary religion whose primary research and teaching interests are in Sufism, New Age and alternative spiritualities and CyberReligion.

Dr Isabel Wollaston’s main research interests relate to the Holocaust and contemporary Jewish-Christian relations (post 1945) and she works closely with institutions active in these areas, such as the Holocaust Centre, Beth Shalom.

Dr Charlotte Hempel is a senior lecturer in Second Temple Judaism.

Dr Haifaa Jawad is primarily concerned with Islamic studies and Middle Eastern politics and history, covering areas such as the socio-political study of Islam, modern and contemporary Islamic thought, feminism and Islam and Euro-Arab relations, to name just a few.

Professor David Thomas’ has a special interest in the history of religious thought in Islam and, in particular, the relations between Muslims and followers of other faiths, especially Christinaity.

Dr David Cheetham’s main interests lie within the philosophy of religion and inter-religious relations, as well as religion and the arts.

Professor Stephen Pattison is primarily interested in ethics, values and religious practices in the contemporary world and practical theology.

Emeritus Professor Werner Ustorf is a retired professor of Mission.


Combined research and taught programmes:

Or conduct research in any of the following areas:

We currently have a number of postgraduate researchers interested in areas of Religious Studies at Birmingham, with current theses including:

  • Perceptions of Islam among Christians in Kenya, co-supervised by David Thomas and Werner Ustorf
  • Muslim women and the blogosphere, supervised by Haifaa Jawad
  • Anne Frank and Holocaust Education, supervised by Isabel Wollaston
  • Aesthetics in the Qur'an, supervised by Haifaa Jawad
  • Turkish Muslim Perception of the Prophet Muhammad during the late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Period, co-supervised by David Thomas and David Cheetham 

All of our postgraduate researchers benefit from the academic strengths of our research clusters and are often co-supervised by members of staff from associated clusters across the College of Arts and Law, so that they have access to different perspectives on their research topic. If you are interested in doing postgraduate research in Religious Studies at Birmingham please feel free to contact the member of staff in the cluster that you think will be best suited to supervising your work here.