SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

MA Islamic Studies (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


Overview and entry requirements

The MA Islamic Studies programme offers students the opportunity to concentrate on the Qur'an, the Hadith and other Islamic texts, and so provides a unique training in the translation of Islamic religious material. The degree is designed to benefit academics, teachers of Islam in other institutions, translators of Islamic material into English in research centres, government departments and da'wa centres. It provides excellent research training and is a useful qualification for those who wish to progress to higher postgraduate degrees.

See Near and Middle East Department

Why study Islam at SOAS

  • SOAS is ranked 1st in London in the Complete University Guide 2021 for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and 6th in UK
  • we are world-renowned for our language courses and specialist in the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • study a wider range of religious and philosophical traditions in more depth than any other programme in the field, with our highly diversified expertise, our comprehensive resources, and our interdisciplinary approach

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.

Featured events

One calendar year (full-time), or two or three years (part-time, daytime only)




Students take 180 credits, 60 credits from a dissertation and 120 credits from taught modules. 

From the taught modules:

  • 60 credits are selected as a major from List A
  • a further 60 credits are selected as the minor from List A or List B, or 30 credits from List A or List B and 30 credits of an approved open option.


Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East 15PNMC999 60 Full Year
List A - Guided Options

Select 30 credits from the list below and either another 30 from the list OR 30 credits from the Open Options list below

List A
Module Code Credits Term
Qur'an and Hadith Studies Part A 15PNMH055 15 Term 1
Qur'an and Hadith Studies Part B 15PNMH056 15 Term 2
The Qur'an:Language,Style and Translation in English Part A 15PNMH061 15 Term 1
The Qur'an:Language,Style and Translation in English Part B 15PNMH062 15 Term 2
Islamic Texts: Language and the Synthesis of Classical Scholarship Part A 15PNMH063 15 Term 1
Islamic Texts: Language and the Synthesis of Classical Scholarship Part B 15PNMH064 15 Term 2
Translation of Islamic Texts (a project) 15PNMC145 30 Term 1
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
Open Options List
Module Code Credits Term
Islamic Law (MA/LLM) 15PLAC121 30 Full Year
Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography 15PNMH035 15 Term 2


Programme Specification

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

One-year Masters programmes consist of 180 credits. 120 credits are taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks); the dissertation makes up the remaining 60 units. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

Contact hours

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework and revising for examinations. It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary. 

More information is on the page for each module.

Learning outcomes

  • How to assess data and evidence critically from manuscripts and digital sources, solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations, locate materials, use research sources (particularly research library catalogues) and other relevant traditional sources.
  • Systematic understanding of Arabic material from the Qur'an and Hadith as well as representative texts in theology,
  • Islamic philosophy, law and mysticism.
  • Ability to identify and explain stylistic features of the Qur'an and Hadith and understand the methodologies used for their authentication, interpretation and translation into English.
  • Ability to understand technical terms and to place passages in their historical and intellectual context.
  • Ability to understand current issues in Islamic thought and movements, relating them to their historical origins and contemporary world situations.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • Students will learn to become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
  • Students will learn to question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.
  • Students will acquire an ability to represent with intelligence, fairness and integrity views different from their own, show the basis on which they stand and discuss them.
  • Students will learn to demonstrate sophisticated understanding of religious issues and intellectual flexibility, using various methods of study, such as the linguistic, historical, hermeneutic and social sciences.
Subject-based practical skills
  • Communicate effectively in writing.
  • Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
  • Present seminar papers.
  • Listen and discuss ideas introduced during seminars.
Transferrable skills
  • Write good essays and dissertations.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Understand unconventional ideas.
  • Study a variety of written and digital materials, in libraries and research institutes of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates.
  • Present (non-assessed) material orally.
  • Be able to manage time.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.



Graduates of the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with skills in written and oral communication, analysis and problem solving.

Recent School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics graduates have been hired by:

  • Africa Matters
  • Amnesty International
  • Arab British Chamber of Commerce
  • BBC World Service
  • British High Commission
  • Council for British Research in the Levant
  • Department for International Development
  • Edelman
  • Embassy of Jordan
  • Ernst & Young
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Google
  • Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
  • Middle East Eye
  • Saïd Foundation
  • TalkAbout Speech Therapy
  • The Black Curriculum
  • The Telegraph
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
  • Wall Street Journal

Find out about our Careers Service.

A Student's Perspective

The best advice I can give is to just dive into the experience without any hesitation. Going into my study abroad experience, I didn’t expect to travel to Morocco and have the opportunity to see Roman ruins or eat chip butties (chips on a bun with sauce), but I did.

Suzanne Jacobson, Hamilton College

Find out more