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Level 5

5AAT2003 Modern Islam I: History & Politics


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee this module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Carool Kersten

One 2,000-word essay (40%) and one 2,500-word essay (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: two-hour weekly classes, with the second hour focusing on discussion, over ten weeks
Pre-requisites: none; however, a basic familiarity with Islam and its early history is preferable.

This module explores the development of modern Muslim thought in political-historical contexts. It examines the emergence and development of Islamic reformism, modernism and Islamism in various parts of the Muslim world from the eighteenth century onwards. Moreover, it presents some of the key concerns of modern Muslim thinkers, while introducing students to the history and politics of such countries as Egypt, India/Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Sample topics

  • ‘Myths’ about modern Islam
  • 18th century Islamic reformism
  • Early Islamic modernism in South Asia
  • Early Islamic modernism in the Arab world
  • Islamism in Egypt and Pakistan
  • Reformism in the Ottoman Empire/Turkish Republic and Iran until 1979
  • Self-proclaimed ‘Islamic’ states: Saudi Arabia and Iran in comparison
  • Muslim reformism and modernism in Southeast Asia
  • Islam and Resistance (Hamas & Hezbollah), Islam and Democracy (Turkey & Indonesia)
  • Resurgent Islam & Transnational Jihad

Further information

Module aims
  • To introduce students to key historical and political developments that shaped the modern Muslim world
  • To familiarise students with the different ways in which various parts of the Muslim world reacted to the challenges of modernisation, westernisation, colonisation, etc.
  • To familiarise students with how modern nation states emerged in the Muslim world
  • To help students think through various factors that have led to issues and conflicts in the modern Muslim world
Learning outcomes
Generic skills
  • Ability to engage critically with primary and secondary materials
  • Ability to summarise and present arguments
  • Ability to research, plan and present essays to specified deadlines
Module specific skills
  • Familiarity with the political and intellectual history of the modern Muslim world
  • Understanding of the main concerns and themes of political thought in the Muslim world
  • Understanding of trends and issues affecting the modern Muslim world
Past syllabi
Previous syllabus document available here for academic year 2015-16. 

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.
Preliminary Reading

Mohammed Ayoub, Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Muslim World (University of Michigan Press, 2007).
John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam (Oxford University Press, 2011). 


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