MA Islamic Studies

Start date
September
Duration
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Fees

Annual tuition fee for 2020/21:
UK/EU: £9,250 full-time
International: £19,170 full-time
More detail.

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. It is taught in collaboration with the Al-Mahdi Institute.

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.

 

College of Arts and Law postgraduate scholarships available

The College of Arts and Law is offering a range of scholarships for our postgraduate taught and research programmes to ensure that the very best talent is nurtured and supported.

Learn more about our scholarships

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.
  • Excellent reputation – Times Higher Education ranked the Department of Theology and Religion second in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. The University of Birmingham has also been ranked as one of the world's top 30 institutions to study Theology and Religious Studies in the 2019 QS World University Rankings.
  • 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.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.


Modules

Core modules

You will study three core modules:

Approaches to Studying Islam (traditional)

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

Approaches to Studying Islam (modern)

This module focuses 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. Again, you will engage with significant traditional and modern scholarship, be able to navigate critically through the relevant academic literature, and  be able to argue coherently for your 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

Optional modules

You will also choose three optional modules from a range offered by both the University of Birmingham and the Al-Mahdi Institute (AMI). Options available typically include:

University of Birmingham 

Options available in the Department of Theology and Religion:

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.

Al-Mahdi Institute

Please note that these modules are only available to UK/EU students. 

Mediaeval Arabic Thought 

Focussing on the philosophical and theological ideas of mediaeval Arabic thinkers, this module provides you with an opportunity to study a range of thinkers and their ideas, ranging from topics such as the Graeco-Arabic translation movement during the so-called Islamic ‘Golden Age’, to the impact of Neoplatonism on Islamic philosophy, the proofs of God’s existence, political philosophy, theological reactions to Hellenistic philosophy, ethics and philosophical Sufism. It aims to give you the ability to navigate original texts in their historical context, the ability to unpack and assess philosophical arguments, to appreciate the ecumenical nature of shared philosophical and theological concerns among Jews, Christians and Muslims, and the ability to assess the compatibility or lack thereof of faith and reason during the Islamic middle ages. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Thematic Study of Shi’ism: History, Doctrines and Religious Authority 

This module will you with an opportunity to review an extensive list of Western scholarship (in English) on key themes that have formed and continue to form the unique identity of Shi’ism within Islam. These themes could include: beginnings of Shi’ism; theological doctrines of Shi’ism; legal doctrines of Twelver Shi’ism; authority structures within Shi’ism; and contemporary issues of the Twelver Shi’i world.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Governance and Public Law in Islamic Thought

This module provides students with an opportunity to explore Muslim’s scholarly debates on governance, public law and political theories. Debates on the question of governance occupy a significant place in Muslim philosophical, theological and legal literature, and thus, need special attention by students of Islamic studies. By discussing various aspects of governance in Islamic sources, this module offers prospective applicants the chance to study Muslim views and voices on the early emergence of Islam to the current contemporary time. In particular, more attention will be paid to the examination of classical jurisprudential sources dealing with questions exploring governance, public law and political theories in Islamic thought.
Assesment: 4,000 word assignment

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time; £4,625 part-time
  • International: £19,170 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.


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

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.

How To Apply

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students to apply is Wednesday 1 July 2020. The deadline for UK/EU students is Thursday 10 September 2020.

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

Our Standard Requirements

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

International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band.. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


As well as the taught modules you take on this programme, the Department of Theology and Religion has a busy programme of research seminars, conferences and workshops which you can attend, so you’ll be able to gain insight from a range of academics and peers from across the department.

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each term, followed by your dissertation. Depending on the modules you take, you can typically expect six hours of classroom time per week, two per module. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation.

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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 your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 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.

Over the past 5 years, 94% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). 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.