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School of Modern Languages & Cultures: Department of Arabic

Introduction to Islam and the Muslim World

About this module

The module will enable students to develop an understanding of the beliefs and practices of Islam appropriate to a level one introductory course. The module will contribute to the development of a systematic understanding of the scripture, theology, law and orthopraxy of Islam, all of which are key to understanding the role of religion in the contemporary Muslim world. It will also place Islam in context, tracing jurisprudential and doctrinal developments through time and against a backdrop of key events in the political history of the Muslim world. It will aim to give students detailed and specific knowledge, informed by developments at the forefront of academic enquiry. It will contribute also to a wider understanding of key concepts, theories and methods. It will prepare students for advanced modules in Muslim political thought in their second and final years, where ideas and theories are considered in greater depth, with the aid of case-studies from around the Muslim world.  The module will focus on six areas of study:  the prophethood of Muhammad; the Koran; the Fundamentals of Belief; the Pillars of Islam; Spirituality; and Islam in the Modern World.  Topics within these areas include:  the evolution of Muslim theology; Jurisprudence and the rise of the schools of law; Islamic mysticism or Sufism; Gender and sexuality in Islam; Islam and politics; the relationship between Islam and other faiths; Islam and democracy.

Teaching and Learning

The module is taught through weekly one-hour lectures, supplemented by fortnightly one-hour tutorials.

Summative Assessment

  • Summative essay of 2000 words (33%) submitted in the second term (Epiphany)
  • 2-hour written examination (67%) in May/June

Preliminary Reading:

  • J.L. Esposito, Islam:  The Straight Path (OUP: 1994)
  • S. Murata & W. Chittick, The Vision of Islam (IB Tauris, 1996)
  • Colin Turner, The Muslim World (Sutton Publishing, 2000)
  • Colin Turner, Islam:  the Basics (Routledge, 2005)


Dr C P Turner (, School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA)