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Level 6

6AAT3048 Contemporary Thought in the Muslim World


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
Assessment: One 2,500-word essay (40%) and one 3,000-word essay (60%)

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

Teaching arrangements: Two-hour weekly classes over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: None

In the wake of the regime change and seismic political shifts in the Arabic-speaking parts of the Muslim world since 2011,  understanding  the role of Islam in the present-day world and how Muslim interpret their religion in domestic, regional, and global context is of growing importance.

Past syllabus

Please find syllabus document available here for academic year 2014-15. Please be aware that the content of the syllabus will differ each academic year. 

Further information

Module aims

A survey of developments in intellectual life throughout the modern Muslim world in order to come to an understanding of Muslim thought from the later half of the 20th century onwards, through a combination of lectures, readings, and classroom discussions.

Learning outcomes

Generic skills:

  • To engage competently and critically with primary and secondary sources.
  • To present ideas in both written and oral form.
  • To demonstrate the capacity to conduct research at a level appropriate to a final level BA course

Course specific skills:

  • To come to an informed understanding of various strands of contemporary Muslim thinking
  • To develop the critical skills for identifying a variety of possible readings of the Islamic heritage and appreciate the multiplicity in interpreting Islam’s intellectual legacy
Preliminary reading


  • Asef Bayat (ed.) (2013) Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam. New York: Oxford University Press
  • John L. Esposito & John O. Voll (2001) Makers of Contemporary Islam. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Mehran Kamrava (ed.) (2006) The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press
  • Carool Kersten (2011) Cosmopolitans and Heretics: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam. London: Hurst Publishers
  • Carool Kersten & Susanne Olsson (eds.) (2013) Alternative Islamic Discourses and Religious Authority. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate#
  • Omid Safi (ed.) (2003) Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender and Pluralism. Oxford: OneWorld
  • Suha Taji-Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi (eds.) (2004) Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century. London & New York: I.B. Tauris
  • Kari Volt, Lena Larsen & Christian Moe (eds.) (2009) New Directions in Islamic Thought: Exploring Reform and Muslim Tradition

This module seeks to provide an introduction to the intellectual history of the contemporary Muslim world through:

  • A survey of present-day Muslim contemporary thought, focusing on the ways in which Muslims with varying outlooks, intellectual backgrounds, ideological convictions have engaged with Islam as a religious tradition and its broader civilizational heritage.
  • An examination of the state of affairs in contemporary Muslim thinking on religion in its various aspects, as well as the broader cultural and social-political history of the present-day Muslim world . 
module availability
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