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. 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.

 

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 offered by both the University of Birmingham and the Al-Mahdi Institute (AMI)*. Options available typically include:

  • Feminism in the Muslim World
  • Islam in Europe
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • Mediaeval Arabic Thought (taught by AMI)
  • Political Islam 
  • Thematic Study of Shi’ism: History, Doctrines and Religious Authority (taught by AMI)

Full module descriptions are available below.

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

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 – Times Higher Education ranked the Department of Theology and Religion second in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. 
  • 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 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

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


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

Application deadlines

International students requiring visas

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry on Monday 1 October 2018.

UK/EU students

A limited number of places remain available on this programme for UK/EU students who submit a completed application by Friday 21 September 2018. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application.

Late applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

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.

Our graduates use their transferable skills in a range of employment sectors, including publishing, counselling, ministry, education and social work. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: schools, colleges and universities, religious institutions; the NHS.

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.