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:
- 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 Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy Study tour.
Simon Rofe is the Pedagogy and Learning Programme Advisor
Start of programme: April / October
Mode of Attendance: Online Learning
Phone: +44 (0)20 7898 4895
- 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.
- 2 years
Students will study one core modules and a range of elective modules on offer each session. There are also four research mini modules.
- 1 x core modules (30 credits each)
- 3 x elective modules (30 credits each)
- 4 x research mini modules
- 1 x dissertation (60 credits)
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.
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.
Global Public Policy
Gain an understanding of public policy making in a context of intensifying globalisation and transnational political contestation. You will undertake rigorous and critical analysis of policy and the complex processes by which it is formulated, adopted and implemented.
Global Diplomacy: Global Citizenship and Advocacy
Develop an understanding of how to influence policy at an international level and how to affect policy changes to meet the aims of non-governmental and international organisations. You will look at how to achieve change at a global level, networking across national boundaries and on global issues.
Focusing on developments since the end of the Cold War, you will be given the analytical tools to think critically and independently about the nature of contemporary international security. You will consider a range of contemporary security issues including terrorism and the 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 21st century.
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 Hadith) 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 Hadith that have defined distinct fields of Islamic enquiry.
Islamic Law in a Global Context
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Religions and Development
Religions continue to play a vital role in the societies of many developing countries, which has multiple implications for development efforts. This has been increasingly recognised by many development agencies who now seek to collaborate with religious actors. In development studies this has led to the emergence of a number of research projects and publications. This module explores this field from the angles of theory and practice. It provides a historical overview and insight into the most salient issues in religions and development, as well as applying these historical and systematic perspectives to concrete case studies from Africa and Asia.
The area of strategic studies is increasingly relevant in light of conflicts in the past decade in Ukraine, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. You will address a range of strategic influences such as power and force, asymmetric/irregular warfare, and the role of security providers such as NATO. The relationship between strategy and policy will be explored through a series of case studies including US involvement in Vietnam and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Art of Negotiation
You will learn about the key concepts of diplomacy and the institutional development of diplomatic relations. You will also be introduced to the strategy and tactics of negotiation and its place in international relations between states.
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
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.
In addition to a dedicated Associate Tutor, a Study Timetable is provided for each module and for the overall programme to help you to organise your time.
The programme is broken down into two study sessions per year. Each subject module lasts 16 weeks, followed by a research mini module lasting 8 weeks.
Sample Study Timetable
|Research mini module
Each module is assessed by five written online assessments (‘etivities’*) comprising of 30%, the remaining 70% is formed of a 5,000 word essay.The etivities provide formative and summative feedback to students as a means of monitoring their progress and encouraging areas in which they can improve.
* 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.)
Research training and Dissertation
Research training is a key feature of this programme, the dissertation module is presented in four development parts, which will follow each of your module sessions. Research modules one and three are formative modules only, and are not assessed.
The dissertation is assessed by the submission of a written dissertation of no more than 15,000 words, excluding the bibliography and appendices, which will account for 85% of the mark awarded for the module (research module four). The remaining 15% of the module mark will be based on the mark obtained for a 1,500 word research proposal (research module two).
The research proposal is compulsory for students going on to do a PGDip or MA; MA students must submit a dissertation at the end of research module four.
Fees and funding
£12,000, payable in advance or payable upon enrolment for each module in four instalments of £2,500 (plus a local exam centre fee).
*Only applicable to Global Diplomacy: South Asia and Global Diplomacy: Middle East & North Africa.
PG Dip and PG Cert are available as exit awards and interested students should be in touch directly with the course team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note this is a new fee structure, students will continue their programme on the same fee structure throughout.
Pay as you Learn
Our distance learning programmes can be paid in full at the time of enrolment or on a pay as you learn basis. Pay as you learn means you pay for modules prior to enrolment (£3,000).
If you have been a resident in England for 3 years you may be eligible. For more information, please see Fees and Finance..
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
- Social work
- International relations
A Student's Perspective
From Indian Buddhism to Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, the diversity of the courses perfectly fitted my interests in Buddhism.
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 2019 for a 16 October 2019 start
- 31 March 2020 for a 21 April 2020 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 www.britishcouncil.org)
- 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 including 7 in both reading and writing). This does not need to be certified and may be received via email.
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