MA Islamic Studies

This programme offers a flexible framework within which you can develop knowledge and skills in Islamic Studies in historical and/or contemporary contexts, and provides an ideal foundation for further research.

You will have the opportunity engage with material that is at the forefront of contemporary academic research in Islamic Studies, and explore a range of topics in Islamic Studies that reflect the expertise of academic staff: this may typically include content with historical, sociological, contextual, legal, textual or philosophical emphases.

 

The programme combines a set of core modules to provide you with a foundation for your studies with a range of options which allow you to specialise in areas of particular interest.

You will study three core modules:

  • Approaches to Studying Islam (traditional)
  • Approaches to Studying Islam (modern)
  • Research Methods

You will also choose three optional modules from a range which typically includes:

  • Feminism in the Muslim World
  • Islam in Europe
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • Muslim Thinkers of the Western World
  • Political Islam 

Full module descriptions are available below.

Assessment

Modules are typically assessed by written assignment. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

Why study this course

  • Flexibility – the range of options on offer allows you to study Islamic Studies in historical and/or contemporary contexts, to suit your areas of interest.
  • Research strengths – the Department of Theology and Religion was ranked second in the country in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. The Department is also home to a dedicated research centre for study in this area, the Birmingham Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.
  • Extracurricular opportunities – you will be exposed to a variety of opportunities to enhance your student experience, including regular coffee mornings for staff and students, visiting speakers, lecture series and social events.
  • Small classes – teaching on the Masters-level modules involve mainly small-group seminars allowing you to really get to grips with the learning material.
  • The city – Birmingham is an ideal place to study Theology and Religion. The city is one of the most culturally and religiously diverse communities in Europe and the department has excellent relationships with the city’s faith communities.

Modules

You will study three core modules:

Approaches to Studying Islam (traditional)

This module will focus on the core disciplines of traditional Islamic religious thought: Qur’an, Hadith, sira, tafsir, Shari’a and fiqh. It will also examine modern academic critical approaches to them. Through the study and discussion of key texts students will engage with significant traditional and modern scholarship, will be able to navigate critically through the relevant academic literature, and will be able to argue coherently for their own particular points of view.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Approaches to Studying Islam (modern)

This module will focus on 19th and 20th century trends in the study of societies and politics of the Muslim world, including debates around orientalism and women’s studies. Through the study and discussion of key texts students will engage with significant traditional and modern scholarship, will be able to navigate critically through the relevant academic literature, and will be able to argue coherently for their own particular points of view.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Research Methods in Theology and the Study of Religion

This module unpacks the core issues of researching in theology and religious studies. It addresses debates surrounding the design, conduct, ethics and evaluation of research in a multidisciplinary subject area. It prepares you to carry out independent research and to critically assess others’ research across a wide spectrum of approaches.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

You will also choose three optional modules from a range which typically includes:

Feminism in the Muslim World

This module explores the development of feminism in the Muslim world, in particular the feminist movements active in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Iran, considering the aims and objectives and methodologies of these movements. Different perspectives and ideological narratives and discourses are explored, such as Muslim secular feminism and the development of Islamic feminism. Particular feminist writers and scholars are critically evaluated within these movements, such as Nawal Al-Sadawi, Fatimah Mernissi and Amina Wadud. The impact of feminism on Muslim societies is explored and evaluated during the course.   
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Islam in Europe

This module studies contemporary Muslim communities in Europe with a view to understanding the key sociological and theological dynamics of these communities in terms of how they interact and relate to each other and wider European society. The module explores the historical establishment of Muslims in eastern and western Europe; the cultural and theological dimensions to development of religious identity and political involvement; and the development of community services such as halal food and halal regulation, mosques and funeral services. The module also explores particular issues relating to popular perceptions and media portrayal of Islam and the impact on Muslim communities in the last quarter century. There will be a focus on the experience of specific countries including Britain.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Islamic Philosophy

The module traces the major developments in philosophical thinking through the classical period of Islamic thought. It includes such topics as the emergence of Islamic philosophy and its connection with Greek and Hellenistic learning, the flowering of a distinctive systematic discipline in the Islamic world, the relationship between philosophy and theology, the influence of Islamic philosophy on Jewish thought, and the transmission of philosophical method from the Arab to the European world. Emphasis will be placed upon the study of particular contributions to learning, and discussion will centre on the works of such masters as al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, as well as al-Ghazali and his critique of falsafa. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Muslim Thinkers of the Western World

It is frequently claimed that Muslims in the West are silent on matters of sociological and political importance. It is alleged they are unwilling to engage with the modern world, and more damningly are failing to ’speak out’ against terrorism, female genital mutilation, or offer a defence of human rights. However, the 21st century has produced a vibrant literature by western Muslims reflecting on issues in Islam in new, distinctively western ways in relation to gender, secularism, faith, Islamophobia and multiculturalism as well as other matters. The purpose of this module is to highlight that Muslim response and to assess their arguments. Our readings will include works by some of the most noted western Muslim contemporary leaders, writers and intellectuals, which may include: Saba Mahmood; Tariq Ramadan; Sherman Jackson; Reza Aslan; the novelist Michael Mohammad Knight; Mohammad Arkoun; Bassam Tibi; and graphic novelist Willow Wilson.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay 

Political Islam

This module is a detailed study and critique of the rise and development of political Islam or Islamism in the Muslim world and beyond. As such, it critically examines and evaluates the origins, roots, theory and history of Islamism. The course assesses the impact and effects of this trend on contemporary Muslim thought. Also, it investigates the causes that have led to the emergence of political Islam, its nature, agendas and role in domestic, regional and international politics. Special emphasis will be placed on the distinction between the worldviews of radical Islamism and moderate Islam. The course will be approached from three angles: governments and their Islamic oppositions, Islamism in power, and the global aspect of political Islam.  
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

It is also possible to select one of your options from others available in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, by prior agreement with the programme and module leader.


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £16,290 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

You will need an Honours degree in a relevant subject, normally of an upper second-class standard, or equivalent. 

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Modules are delivered via a range of learning and teaching methods, including mini-lectures, seminars and tutorials. You also receive one-to-one supervision in the development of your dissertation.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Theology and Religion

Birmingham’s Theology graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills including: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Many of our graduates go into careers in churches of various denominations. Other students use their transferable skills in a range of employment sectors, including publishing, education and social work. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: Church of England; Methodist Church; NHS; and University of Birmingham.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.