SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Islam: Foundations

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

In this course, consisting of one weekly 2hrs lecture and an accompanying 1hr tutorial, students will be introduced to the non-faith based approach to fundamental particulars of Muslim religiosity. All the discussions revolve therefore around the issue of interpretation of texts and contexts by Muslims, with the main focus on the formative period of “Islam”. Therefore, on the one hand students will familiarise themselves with the historical context in which the religion of Islam emerged, as well as different ways in which Muslims have interpretated it. On the other hand, students will be introduced to the authoritative texts, the Qurʾān and Ḥadīth or Akhbār, and three idealtypical ways in which Muslims have attempted to answer different questions with recourse to these texts.

This course runs every second year, starting in 2014-15, and alternates with the advanced UG course “Developments in Muslim Religious Thought” (158000188).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • a foundation-level knowledge and understanding of the historical development of Islam, its doctrinal foundation, and a range of approaches to its authoritative textual basis;
  • a clear understanding of the difference between a faith-based approach to the subject matter, and the historical-critical one of Western academia;
  • an awareness of some of the important issues and debates within the Study of Islam.
  • an ability to find and use books, journals and other sources of information relevant to the matters at hand;
  • general undergraduate skills, e.g. in writing, critical thinking and argument, necessary for the academic study of a religion within a Study-of-Religions framework


Two hours Lecture, one hour tutorial

Method of assessment

  • One 1,000 word essay (worth 20%)
  • One 3,000 word essay (worth 60%)
  • Group Presentation (worth 20%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules