SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Mosaics, Manuscripts, and Wall Painting in Islamic Art

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Full Year
The course is concerned with painting from the Islamic lands, from the early mosaic cycles to wall paintings, book and Qur'anic illumination and miniature painting. The period concerned is from the 7th to the 17th century and both Arab and Persian painting will be studied. For mosaic and wall painting the relationship with the architecture they decorate will be investigated, and both classical and oriental sources will be examined.

The course includes visits to London Museum collections, such as those of the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Courtald Institute.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course students should 

  • have a familiarity with the main aspects of painting produced in the Islamic lands during the period 7th to 17th centuries; 
  • should be able to identify relevant objects assigning them accurately to their time and place; 
  • and should have developed further skills in critical reading and well-structured essay-writing

Method of assessment

2 essays of 3,000 words each = 30%, seminar presentation = 10%, exam =60%

Suggested reading

  • M. Almagro et. al., Qusayr Amra, Madrid, 1975.
  • M. van Berchem, 'The Mosaics of the Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem and the Great Mosque at Damascus'., in K.A.C. Creswell (ed.), Early Muslim Architecture, vol. 1, Oxford, 1932, pp. 149-252.
  • Bosworth, C.E., The Arabs, Byzantium and Iran: Studies in Early Islamic History and Culture, Aldershot, Variorum, 1996
  • S. Canby, The Golden Age of Persian Art, London, 1999.
  • J.D. Dodds, ' The Great Mosque of Cordoba', Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, New York, 1992.
  • Ettinghausen R., Arab Painting, Geneva, 1962.
  • Gray, B., Persian Painting, Geneva, 1961.
  • R. Hillenbrand, Islamic Architecture, Edinburgh, 1994.
  • Lings M., The Qur'anic Art of Calligraphy and Illumination, London, 1976.
  • U. Monneret de Villard, Le Pitture Musulmane al Soffitto della Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Rome, 1950.

Online course outline.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules