SOAS has a new and exciting 2-year online postgraduate programme: Muslim Minorities in a Global Context. We went to chat to Simon Perfect, (@SimplyMrPerfect – to his Twitter followers), one of the associate tutors who is a SOAS alumnus himself.
You finished your MA a few years ago at SOAS and now you are here again. You just can’t seem to get enough of the place.
SOAS is an exciting place to be. I am impressed by the dynamism of our students not to mention their eagerness to use the learnt ideas to challenge orthodoxies and bring about real change. I love being part of it all.
Tell us more about this programme.
The MA Muslim Minorities in a Global Context is a new online learning programme. It draws on elements of programmes offered on campus at SOAS and transposes them to the online environment. I wanted to be a tutor for this MA because I enjoy the online learning experience, which brings together engaged students from around the world and from a great range of backgrounds. The students often have very varied and interesting perspectives on the issues we are discussing.
How do you see the significance of this course, given the current political climate?
This course is hugely relevant and addresses some of the key issues facing our societies today. In the post-Brexit ‘Trump-y’ world, issues of religion, extremism, national identity and the place and integration of minorities (especially Muslim minorities) continue to dominate public debate. In our course we explore these issues critically, but also look to go beyond the integration and securitisation perspectives which often shape the way Muslims are framed in Western public discourses.
We look at a range of topics from an interdisciplinary perspective. This includes the historical establishment of Muslim minority communities, contemporary government policies towards them, the place of Islamic law in non-Muslim majority countries, diversity, division and questions of authority within the Muslim communities, Islamophobia and challenges facing Muslim women. Students who want to learn more about Islam itself from a theological perspective can choose to take the Introduction to Islam module.
Who is the course aimed at?
It will appeal to people working in, or those who want to work in, government, NGOs, the media, law, security, and civil society institutions. Former students have included people based in Muslim-majority countries as well as countries with significant Muslim minorities.
What other benefits does an online course offer?
Students taking this course become part of our global online community. Each week, students are set readings which they discuss in an online forum and review each other’s work.
There is also an optional opportunity for students to take part in a study tour organised by the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) to New York City and Washington DC. As well as meeting each other and the teaching staff and having time for ‘site-seeing’, students have the opportunity to network with representatives from various international organisations. Recently students went on a tour of Geneva and connected with UN representatives. More details can be found on the study tour page.
What are the entry requirements?
It’s all on our website.
Any fun facts about you?
I once performed on the West End. Years ago I was part of an amateur theatre group and we performed scenes from Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. I also like Bollywood movies.
Follow Simon on twitter: @SimplyMrPerfect