SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Islamic/Democratic Political Thought

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Full Year

This course provides a philosophical and empirical introduction to contemporary debates regarding the compatibility of Islam (esp. Islamic law) and democratic political thought. It also encourages a critical re-examination of these debates through a discussion of Muslim scholarship (and practice) pertaining to the specification and interpretation of religious laws, the role of religious and political opposition, and the status of the individual in political and social life.

The course concludes with a series of case studies drawn from South and Southeast Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, and Europe (for example, Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Iran).

The course will initially be made available to postgraduate students enrolled on the MSc in Comparative Political Thought. In future, it may potentially be made available to students on the MSc in Middle East Politics, the MSc in Asian Politics, the MSc in African Politics, and the MSc in International Politics as an optional course.

This module is capped at 20 students.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Through lectures, critical reading, and informed discussion, this course will enable students to:

  • Evaluate and engage ongoing debates regarding Islam and democracy from a theoretical as well as an empirical standpoint
  • Write analytically – as students and future professionals – about an issue with considerable significance in the study of comparative politics, political philosophy, public policy and modern diplomacy.


2 contact hours per week, for 22 weeks. 

Method of assessment

Term 1: 3000 word essay contributing 25% of total mark.

Term 2: 4000 word essay contributing 35% of total mark. 

Term 3: 5000 word essay contributing 40 % of total mark.

Suggested reading

The syllabus and reading list for this course will be identical to the equivalent UG course (153400063: Islam and Democracy).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules