Masters degrees in Islamic Studies examine the theory and practice of Islam, typically covering a broad range of subjects from history, law and finance through to politics and art.
Related postgraduate specialisms include Christian-Muslim Relations, Islamic Finance & Accounting and Religions of Asia & Africa.
With over 1.8 billion followers, Islam is an important area of scholarly attention. Courses typically trace the development of Islam from its early beginnings in around 600 CE to its current position as the world’s fastest growing faith.
Masters in Islamic Studies may take a broad, interdisciplinary approach to the religion: in addition to its theological underpinnings, you could study Islamic law and finance, political Islam and Islam’s influence on fields such as mathematics, astronomy and algebra.
By completing a Masters in Islamic Studies, you’ll have a proven track record in intercultural understanding, a valuable trait in today’s globalised society. You might find work for an international organisation like the European Union or the United Nations, a non-governmental organisation or a media company. Alternatively, you’ll be well-equipped to pursue your research interests in further academic study.
In this research area, you can pursue interdisciplinary study of Islamic thought and practice, and of historical, theological, ethical and political encounters between Christianity and Islam.
Staff research interests focus on Islamic theology (kalam), law (shari‘a and fiqh), and philosophy; Qur’an, Hadith, and Tafsir; Muslim views of Christianity and Judaism; Christian theological engagements with Islam; constructive theology and ethics from a Christian or Muslim perspective; Arab Christianity, classic and contemporary; political Islam; political theology; comparative theology; migration, religion and politics.
You can find out more and identify a potential supervisor by looking at the School’s staff profiles, which give details of research interests and publications, and email addresses.
You are encouraged to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research project before making a formal application.
At the School of Divinity you will join a community of around 150 research students, drawn from around the world, and from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.
You will study in a stimulating environment. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 ranked the School’s research environment at 100% world-leading / internationally excellent, second in the UK on this front in theology and religion. This outstanding result reflects the vibrancy of the School’s research culture.
If you have academic training in theology or religious studies (or another relevant subject), and would like to develop your interest with a focus on a particular area, the Masters by Research may interest you.
You can study full-time (one year) or part-time (two years). Your pattern of study can either be three supervised research essays followed by a 15,000 word dissertation, or a 30,000 word dissertation. Most students take the ‘research essays + shorter dissertation’ path. All students receive research training.
The ethos of the Graduate School is to promote excellence in postgraduate study, within a stimulating and supportive environment. We value equality and diversity in the School community, and an academic culture that is both critical and constructive.
A University review (2015) commended the Graduate School for providing excellent support: responsive to student feedback; proactive in helping new postgraduates to adjust to their studies and to life in Scotland; enthusiastic and practical in promoting career development. The postgraduate student committee works closely with the School to make the research student experience the best it can be.
The School of Divinity, one of the largest centres for the study of religion in the United Kingdom, is located in the historic setting of New College, close to Edinburgh Castle and overlooking Princes Street.
Resources for research are excellent. You can draw on the outstanding holdings of New College Library, the University of Edinburgh’s main library, and the nearby National Library of Scotland. New College Library has one of the largest theology collections in the UK, with more than a quarter of a million items and a large and rich manuscript collection. The University library exceeds 2.25 million volumes. The National Library of Scotland – a ‘legal deposit’ library like the British Library in London and the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge – is just around the corner.
The School provides an extensive programme of weekly research seminars and special guest lectures. In addition, three research centres provide a special focus for activity: the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins; the Centre for Theology and Public Issues; the Centre for the Study of World Christianity.
You will have access to excellent study facilities, dedicated to postgraduates. PhD and MPhil students have access 24/7, and can request an allocated desk. Masters by Research students have shared study space. All areas have printing/scanning and computer facilities. The main postgraduate study wing has a kitchen. New College has an on-site cafe that is open during term time.
This programme provides the opportunity to study a variety of religious traditions, in combination with advanced learning in the theory and method of the study of religion.
Religious beliefs, behaviours and institutions are powerful components in human societies. Understanding their motivations and structures can help the search for solutions to major challenges in the contemporary world.
This programme allows a deepening engagement with theory and method in religious studies, while encouraging in-depth study of one or more religious traditions. This combination of theoretical know-how with studies in specific traditions equips you to compare, interpret and explain religion in a cross-cultural perspective.
You can study Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Indian traditions, as well as indigenous religions of Africa, North America and East Asia, and new age and diasporic traditions. The programme also offers the opportunity to learn Sanskrit, Arabic or Persian (subject to availability) through our expertise in Asian Studies and in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.
This programme is run full-time over one year (or part-time over two years). You will be taught mainly in small classroom/seminar groups. You will be given training in research methods which offers a practical approach to postgraduate level skills of critical investigation and writing, and receive individual supervision for your 15,000 word dissertation.
Compulsory courses comprise Theory and Method in the Study of Religion; one further course from the options specific to this programme; and two courses in research methods.
You will choose three options. At least one must be a course in religious studies, such as:
The options on offer change from year to year, so please consult the Programme Director for advice on what will be available. With the agreement of your Programme Director, you may also choose options from other taught masters programmes, language courses, and advanced undergraduate courses.
This programme is designed to provide a strong foundation for postgraduate research in the field or for employment in a range of areas requiring critical analysis and empathetic understanding.
As faiths of all kinds navigate their way through a period of great social change, it is more important than ever to possess an in-depth understanding of how faiths interact with each other and society. This MA creatively balances the close study of particular traditions with a broad understanding of the subject area. It is one of the few programmes in London that offers specialised teaching in Islam as well as several different aspects of Christian theology.
On this course, you can study a variety of religious traditions in relation to key topics such as social justice, gender, text and textual interpretation, and inter-religious dialogue and conflict. You will have the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of particular religious themes, with a broad view of religious studies, and its diverse forms of interpretation and practice. This course will suit students who want to develop advanced skills in the study and analysis of a range of issues, rather than focus on one specialist subject.
A strength of the course is that it allows you to have a critical awareness of the relationship between different religions and modern secular society, with an informed and scholarly understanding of differences within as well as between religious traditions and cultures. From this,you will use advanced methods of research and critical analysis to explore the ways in which different religious perspectives contribute to contemporary debates about identity, politics and culture.
Drawing on London's rich resources for studying religions in their material, social and historical contexts, this course provides an enhanced learning environment and contributes to your wider cultural awareness and understanding. This is underpinned by a focus on advanced study and research skills, designed to equip you with a high level of proven academic competence and preparing you for careers and vocations that require this expertise. This might include educational institutions, NGOs and other organisations in which understanding of religious perspectives is an advantage.
The MA in Theology and Religious Studies allows you to focus on a broad range of topics within the subject area, and study your particular interests in-depth.
On offer is specialised teaching in Hinduism and Islam as well as different aspects of Christian theology. You could study gender across these traditions, for example looking at women in Islam from feminist, reformist and traditionalist perspectives, or specifically looking at gender across religious texts and narratives. Or you could study contemporary doctrine, such as Pentecostalism in different parts of the world, or in Christian marriage and family life, also taking into account qualitative and quantitative data on marriage and family today, and the political and policy decisions that affect families.
As well as contemporary debates, you will look at historical issues, for example through the effect of Christian theology on art and culture throughout history. You will look at how depictions of nature and grace, suffering and redemption, and gender and incarnation, changed through the Reformation, and then how these new representations influenced modern art and philosophy.
The course also provides opportunity to investigate the relationship of religion and society through modules look at, for example, human rights and community engagement. You will gain an understanding of the historic and contemporary relationship between the Church and the State, as well as the nature of Christian activism in public policy and public discourse.
Finally, you will write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, which can be informed by your study on the optional modules, or from an area of interest of your own.
This course is especially beneficial for those hoping to: pursue a PhD or conducting specific research; work in faith-based organisations, social services or education; work in international aid, the charity sector and community organisations.