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The political map of West Asia, home to more than 60 per cent of the world’s oil and gas wealth, is in flux. The on-going process of forming fundamentalist ideologies in the region, new waves of political Islamic revival, and the re-emergence of sectarian struggles in the region have heightened concerns about religio-political dynamics which are still not fully understood by scholars and policymakers. Moreover, the growing number of organised Islamic groups in the region, representing diverse political goals, are generating tensions that threaten to move beyond the borders of West Asia.

The MA in Islamic and West Asian Studies is designed for students interested in the Islamic and West Asian world, as well as those wishing to pursue either a career in international affairs or further research on Muslim and West Asian communities.

The course is taught by scholars affiliated with Royal Holloway’s Centre for Islamic and West Asian Studies (CIWAS), an inter-disciplinary centre whose mission is to promote the exchange of ideas and knowledge among scholars from East and West. You will have the opportunity to engage critically with the history and politics of West Asian societies and Muslim communities, and have access to a wide range of regional resources which CIWAS has recently acquired.

Course structure

Core modules

  • Introduction to the Historical Study of the Modern Muslim World
  • Islam and West Asia in International Relations
  • Dissertation

You must also take at least one from the following:

  • Research Development
  • History Past and Present - Definitions, Concepts and Approaches
  • Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in Politics and International Relations
  • Theories and Qualitative Approaches in Politics and International Relations
  • Fieldwork Methods

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

  • Political Economy of the Middle East
  • The Infidel Within? Muslims in the West
  • Politics and Religion in the Middle East Since 1914

Teaching & assessment

Teaching and learning is delivered primarily by means of seminar discussions, informal lectures, oral presentations, guided independent research, and guided independent study.

Assessment takes the form of various formative and summative assignments, including, in the case of some modules, an unseen written exam.

The final assignment is a dissertation on a topic developed in consultation with an assigned supervisor. It is expected that the dissertation will be researched and written primarily in the summer months, although supervision and dissertation training will begin during the academic year.

Your future career

Graduates of political degrees have much to offer potential employers having developed a range of transferable skills, both practical and theoretical, whilst studying with us. With up to 90% of our most recent graduates now working or in further study, according to the Complete University Guide 2015, it’s true to say our graduates are highly employable. 

The methodological nature of a politics degree provides graduates with valuable analytical and research skills in preparation for careers in government, political consultancy, NGOs and research organisations.

In recent years, departmental graduates have secured jobs in a wide range of professions, such as the law, the civil service, accountancy, management, journalism, broadcasting, teaching, international development and diplomacy. In fact, six-months after graduation, 90% of our most recent graduates are enhancing their skills with further study or forging careers in companies and institutions such as:

  • Amnesty International
  • Bloomberg
  • The Church of England
  • Citigroup
  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  • The Conservative Party
  • Ernst & Young
  • The European Commission Global Capital
  • HM Treasury
  • The Henry Jackson Society
  • House of Commons
  • Ipsos MORI
  • The Labour Party
  • KAYAK
  • NATO Headquarters
  • Oxford Business Group
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Quadrangle
  • Save the Children

Visit the Islamic and West Asian Studies - MA page on the Royal Holloway, University of London website for more details!

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