SOAS University of London

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

MA Muslim Minorities in a Global Context

Online learning

2 - 5 years

2018 Entry requirements

  • A minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). We welcome applications from academically strong individuals from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds. Candidates with a lower class degree but with degree-relevant work experience may be considered.

Featured events

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
  • Apply


Start of programme: April / October

Mode of Attendance: On-Line

What are the challenges faced by Muslim minority communities and their host societies? What are the debates surrounding the place of religious minorities in secular societies?

Recent political shifts in Muslim majority countries have put Muslim minorities in the spotlight and impacted upon their relationship with their host societies. This programme gives you an opportunity to consider Muslim minority communities comparatively, within both western and non-western contexts.

You will explore the varieties of religious interpretations and practices that have resulted in issues and challenges arising uniquely within different Muslim minority communities and the key themes of:

  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Islamaphobia
  • Law
  • History
  • Civil society

The programme is highly interdisciplinary and offers a flexible combination of module choices including law, history, international relations, and diplomacy. You will gain the expertise to evaluate materials from different sources such as the media, government reports and legal documents as well as academic research.

You will acquire the skills necessary to work in a wide range of professions that require an understanding of inter-cultural relations and policy-making at both local and national levels.

The programme is offered by the Department of Religions and Philosophies and delivered by the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD).

MA Muslim Minority students are eligible to join the following Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy activities:

Simon Rofe is the Pedagogy and Learning Programme Advisor


Phone: +44 (0)20 7898 4895



Students take four modules (comprising one core and three elective) over two years and write a dissertation

Core modules:

Optional modules:

Watch our webinar with Dr Sarah Stewart, Programme Convener, and Dr Simon Perfect, Programme Tutor for more information on programme content.

Muslim Minorities in a Global Context

This module gives students an insight into the diversity of Muslim minority communities at a time when political shifts in Muslim majority countries – such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and across the MENA region – have put Muslim minorities into the spotlight and impacted upon their relationship with their host countries. The module traces the emergence and development of Muslim minorities in both Western and non-Western contexts, and examines how Muslims have forged new identities as they have negotiated their places within their host societies.

The objective of the module is to enable students to understand the interconnecting variables with respect to class, gender and regional location, as well as religious interpretation and practice, which have resulted in issues arising uniquely within different Muslim minority communities. They will consider the ways in which Muslim minorities impact national policies in non-Muslim states and engage with terms such as ‘integration’, ‘assimilation’, ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘islamophobia’ within different contexts. The course includes an historical overview of Muslim migrations, aspects of civil society, the interaction of Muslim laws and the state laws of various jurisdictions, and the role of the media in shaping Muslims’ relationship with their host environment.


The dissertation module is an opportunity for students to develop their interests in a particular area. It follows the taught modules and may be based on a topic within the programme that students have enjoyed or drawn from a personal interest or experience. The dissertation is fully supported by the distance learning team and a suite of resources specifically designed for the module. The dissertation is divided into two sections; the pre-proposal stage, where students are provided with appropriate research skills, and the post-proposal stage, where students will be working with a full-time Academic member of staff. The module will provide students with the ability to plan and write a dissertation, after displaying evidence of independent research skills and critically reflection. The dissertation is designed to engage students in a sustained piece of individual, academic research on a chosen topic within the field of Muslim Minorities.

Introduction to Islam

The Introduction to Islam module is an introductory survey course, intended for those students with little or no previous knowledge of the subject matter. Central to the module is the notion of "interpretation” of the authoritative textual foundation of the Islamic worldview (the Qur?an and the ?adith) and the Islamic historical narrative. ‘Historical Preconditions’ exposes students to the historical context of the foundational period, ‘Authoritative Sources and Different Ways of Dealing with them’ introduces students to three different ways of approaching Qur?an and ?adith that have defined distinct fields of Islamic enquiry, ‘Historical Developments in Muslim Religious Thought’ shows how these approaches have developed over time and in various spaces, while ‘New Challenges – New Developments’ introduces the students to the role of these approaches in Muslims’ attempts to come to terms with various contemporary issues.

Muslim Minorities and the State: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

This module explores the development of government policies in non-Muslim countries towards Muslim minority communities, from the colonial era to the present day. It focuses on eight countries: Britain, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, and Singapore, using these as case studies to explore the issues raised in both western and non-western contexts. In all cases the importance of colonial legacies for understanding the contemporary situation of Muslims in these countries is a focal point for reading and discussion. In addition, the module offers a theoretical approach to Muslim minorities more generally, expanding on some of the key themes and issues covered in the introductory module for the Programme. Upon completion of this module, students will have acquired the methodological expertise to apply themselves to the study of other Muslim minorities in different geographic locations living under different jurisdictions.

Islamic Law in a Global Context

The Islamic Law in a Global Context option gives students an opportunity to critically analyse the juridicial views of scholars as well as the legal practices of ordinary Muslims within Muslim societies of the contemporary world. This module enables students to make comparisons, through case law, between countries with Muslim minority communities and those in which the majority population are Muslim. Its major aim is to expose students to different visions of law in Islam, its processes or procedures and its roles or functions in Muslim communities. It will allow students to examine critically what is meant by ‘Islamic’ as opposed to ‘Muslim law’, the process of law-making, authority and agency in Islam, how such processes are determined and by whom and how the principles of the Qur ‘an and Sunna in contemporary times have been translated into socially workable rules. The course looks at a variety of selected legal issues involving property disputes, marriage and divorce, Islamic criminal justice, Islamic finance, Islamic philanthropy and women's rights. In relation to the latter, readings will focus on the role of social movements and other factors in bringing about change towards gender mainstreaming of Shari ‘a.

Global Public Policy

This course aims to provide students with an excellent understanding of public policy making in a context of intensifying ‘globalisation’ and transnational political contestation. Today’s policy analysts are confronted by dizzying complexity as they seek answers to questions such as: How does policy come about? Why do governments adopt some policies and not others? Why do policies change or persist – despite popular demands or international pressure? Why do they succeed or fail? Who and what shapes policy agendas, decisions and outcomes? How does ‘the public’ figure in all this? Looking at such questions, the course will equip students to undertake rigorous and critical analysis of policy and the complex, fractious processes by which it is formulated, adopted and implemented. In particular students will learn to incorporate into analysis transnational relations of power, such as between the global North and South, and question the assumptions inherent to conventional approaches to studying policy. Along with key concepts and theories of public policy, the course will examine policy as the outcome of transnational political contestation, treating analysis of the former as inseparable from the latter, and locating both in today’s dominant global policy framework, neoliberalism.

International Security

Issues of security and insecurity are central to international relations, as the terrorist attacks of ‘911’ and the Iraq War of 2003 underline. This module affords students with the analytical tools to think critically and independently about the nature of contemporary international security, focusing on developments since the end of the Cold War. Further, the module provides students with a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of international security in the contemporary era. It examines the main theoretical and conceptual approaches to the study, before considering a range of contemporary security issues including: the emergence of a zone of stable peace in Europe; 'New Wars' in the South; terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the Iraq War and the future of the Middle East; and the prospects for peace and security in the Twenty-First Century.

Strategic Studies

In light of events in the past decade and the multiplicity of different actors involved in Kosovo, Chechnya, Columbia, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sudan, DRC not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan the study of Strategy continues to be relevant to global order in the 21st century. Given prominence during the Cold War in light of the possibility of catastrophic nuclear exchange, Strategic Studies’ demise was forecast with the collapse of the communist bloc. Instead this field of international relations has enjoyed a renaissance in the past twenty years and this module considers the fundamental question of why this is the case. In doing so this module addresses a range of strategic influences which shape global politics, including; the attributes of ‘Power’ and ‘Force’ and concepts at work in Strategic Studies (deterrence for example); issues of Strategic Culture, Asymmetric/Irregular warfare, technological change, International Law and the role of international security providers such as NATO. All build toward providing students with the necessary skills to address the relationship between Strategy and Policy through a series of case studies from US involvement in Vietnam through to contemporary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Political Islam in South Asia

You will gain an understanding of the ways in which Islamism circulates in contemporary South Asia in a range of different contexts across the region. The historical roots of political Islam in South Asia will be explored in relation to colonialism and the emergence of politicised religion while its contemporary legacy will be charted out in terms of recent regional and global developments.

Contemporary India, State, Society and Politics

You will become conversant with a number of current themes which are shaping contemporary India and use a range of conceptual tools to evaluate the political shifts that have taken place in the electoral ascent of Hindu nationalism alongside emerging civil society movements. By engaging with contemporary literature and debate you will develop a deeper and broader understanding of how state, society and politics are evolving in contemporary India.


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

This programme is taught 100% online through our VLE. In the VLE you will have access to learning materials and course resources anytime so you can fit your studies around your existing commitments. For each module, students will be provided with access, through both the SOAS Library and the University of London’s Online Library, to all necessary materials from a range of appropriate sources.

A key component of the student experience will be peer to peer learning, with students enrolled in discussion forums.


Each module is assessed by five written online assessments (‘etivities’*) comprising 30% and one 5,000 word essay comprising 70% of the module mark. The etivities provide formative and summative feedback to students as a means of monitoring their progress and encouraging areas in which they can improve.


The Dissertation is assessed by the submission of a written dissertation of not more than 15,000 words, excluding the bibliography and appendices, which will account for 85% of the mark awarded for the module. The remaining 15% of the module mark will be based on the mark obtained for a 1,500 word research proposal.

* An 'e-tivity' is a framework for online, active and interactive learning following a format that states clearly to the students its 'Purpose'; the 'Task' at hand; the contribution or 'Response' type; and the 'Outcome' (Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, New York and London: Routledge Falmer.)

Fees and funding


This programme provides a thorough grounding in the historical and contemporary issues faced by minority Muslim communities around the world. It is essential for individuals seeking careers, with an Islamic specialisation, in:

  • International media
  • Education
  • Research
  • Social work
  • Development
  • International relations

A Student's Perspective

From Indian Buddhism to Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, the diversity of the courses perfectly fitted my interests in Buddhism.

Qingniao Li


How to Apply

You can apply using our online application form

If you have any questions please use our online enquiry form.

The deadlines for applications are as follows:

  • 30 September 2017 for a 17 October 2017 start
  • 31 March 2018 for a 17 April 2018 start

Your completed application will be reviewed by a member of academic staff. If your application is successful, we will send you an official offer within ten working days and you will be asked to submit the relevant supporting documentation. Once in receipt of our offer, we recommend submitting your documents immediately.

Supporting documentation for applications

1. Degree certificates

We require documentation confirming the award of all qualifications listed in your application, which can either be your certificate or academic transcript. This must show: the name of the university, programme studied and the grade/classification you attained. If your university cannot issue official documents in English, we will require a certified translation in English of your degree certificate/transcript.

You can send us either original or certified copies of your documents. If you send original documents and you would like these to be returned to you, please state this in your covering letter.

If you send certified copies, please ensure that each document has been stamped and verified by one of the following:

  • British Council official. (You can find the location of your nearest British Council office from
  • Local British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission
  • Notary Public
  • The issuing university (in the case of academic qualifications)
2. Copy of an identification document

This must be either your passport or birth certificate. This does not need to be certified, and may be sent to us via email.

Note: If your name as stated on your academic documents does not match that given on your identification document, we will also require documentary evidence (such as a marriage certificate) that supports your change of name.

3. Copy of English language proficiency certificate

If your degree was not taught and assessed in English, you will need to submit evidence of your English language competency. This should be either an IELTS or TOEFL certificate (you will need an IELTS overall score of 7.0 OR 7 in both reading and writing). This does not need to be certified and may be received via email.

4. References

We may also request that you provide us with references in support of your application. They should be from an individual who knows you on an academic basis. However, if you graduated more than three years ago we will accept a professional reference.

Your reference should include an opinion (in English) on your academic and personal suitability for the proposed programme of study.

Please note that, if necessary, we reserve the right to verify your qualifications with the relevant awarding body and to request further information from you about your background.

Send your supporting documents to the following address:

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London, WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

Find out more

  • Contact us
    By phone:
    +44 (0)20 7898 4895
    By email:
  • Got a question?

    If you still have questions about this programme or studying at SOAS get in touch.

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  • Apply

    CISD distance learning applications should be made through our online application form.

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