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MA Islamic Studies

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

Annual tuition fee for 2024 entry:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £24,120 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. 

Amongst the strengths of the programme is the context of its delivery within the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion. This allows an exploration of Islamic intellectual traditions, as well as questions relating to contemporary Muslim practice and societies, in conversation with other traditions and broader approaches in Philosophy, Theology and Religion. 

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.

Taught in collaboration with the Al-Mahdi Institute, the programme provides an ideal foundation for further research, enabling a transition for students with seminary backgrounds in Islamic Studies as well those who come to the study of Islam without significant prior formal learning in Islamic Studies.

Find out more about the Department's research strengths in Islamic Studies.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

 

At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

Why study this course?

  • Ideal platform – taught in collaboration with the Al-Mahdi Institute, the programme provides an ideal platform for further research, enabling a transition for students with seminary backgrounds in Islamic Studies as well as those who come to the study of Islam without significant prior formal learning in Islamic Studies.
  • Flexibility – the range of options on offer allow you to study Islamic Intellectual traditions and/or Muslim practices within and alongside broader approaches and questions in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion
  • Excellent reputation –  The Theology and Religion department was ranked 3rd in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021 based on research rated 4*. The University of Birmingham has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study Theology and Religious Studies in the 2024 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.
  • The city – Birmingham 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 the Study of Islam

‘Islamic Studies (IS),’ in the extended sense of the term and with all its various branches and disciplines, is a complex and contested field. This module introduces students to the diverse ways in which Islam and Muslim societies have been approached as a scholarly subject. Through the study and discussion of key texts and approaches 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. Approaches to understanding Islam that students encounter may include: Quranic and Tafsir traditions; legal approaches; historical methods; orientalism; feminist approaches; and socio-cultural and political science methods.
Assessment: Either 1 x 4,500-word essay OR 1 x 1,250 word essay and 1 x 3,250 word essay

Research Methods

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: 2500 word essay (50%) AND 2000 word Dissertation Proposal (50%).

Dissertation Preparation and Guided Reading

Following the research methods module, where you will have identified your dissertation project, this module is designed to aid your planning and research for the dissertation by further developing the relevant skills and knowledge in a structured way in the form of a literature review and study skills sessions.
Assessment: 4,500 word essay (Literature Review). 

Optional modules

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

Options available typically include:

  • Medieval Arabic Thought (provided by Al-Mahdi Institute)
  • Law and Ethics in Christian and Muslim Thought and Practice
  • Thematic Study of Shi'ism: History, Doctrines and Religious Authority (provided by Al-Mahdi Institute)
  • Religion in Contemporary Global Politics
  • Critical Thinkers of Modernity, Science, Society and Religion
  • Gender, Sexuality and Religion

For further information, please see our Theology and Religion postgraduate modules and our Philosophy postgraduate modules.

Dissertation

One of the following must be taken: LM Dissertation (15,000 word dissertation) or LM Placement-based Dissertation (assessment for placement-based dissertation: Completion of 100 hours on Placement + either (a) a 10,000 word dissertation critically analysing and evaluating reflecting on an aspect of the approach and/or work of the institution hosting the Placement. OR (b) write a report or conduct a piece of relevant research, or produce another form of media output for the Placement host).


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 2024 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £10,530 full-time; £5,265 part-time
  • International: £24,120 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 or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Paying your fees

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


Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

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

How to Apply for a Postgraduate Degree - Taught programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is 30 June 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

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, 20 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 67 with no less than 64 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 semesters per year and dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each semester, 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.

Teaching year

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

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each of the first two terms, followed by your dissertation. 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).

The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report.

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.

Postgraduates in theology and religion go on to a wide variety of industries, including public service, education, law, consulting, and other competitive graduate schemes. Others consider further study and go on to doctoral research, including the Midland4Cities funded scheme. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include Birmingham Council, Frontline, and the NHS.