Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Past events

Selected seminars, conferences, lectures, film screenings, exhibitions, and workshops in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (2015 -).

Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series

Photo of Islamic building with mosaic detailing

Each semester, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) welcomes a fantastic range of guest speakers and colleagues to present an evening seminar on their research.

The topics span fields as diverse as film and media, literature, religion, society and politics in the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.

Please note that speaker titles and universities, as listed, date from the time of the event and may have changed.

Meet, Greet and Eat

Middle Eastern items and food at a table for a Meet, Greet and Eat event

IMES regularly hosts free language exchange and socialising events.

Our Meet, Greet and Eat events give students, native speakers of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, and anyone interested in the Arab world and the Middle East a chance to get to know each other and practice their language skills in a relaxed setting.

Lectures, talks, discussions and readings

W.M. Watt Lecture

Arabic has been taught at the University of Edinburgh for over 260 years, and today our department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies is globally recognised as a leading centre in the field.

From his appointment as Lecturer in Arabic in 1947, until his retirement as Professor in 1979, William Montgomery Watt made an outstanding contribution both to Islamic scholarship and to the development of IMES.

The inaugural Watt Lecture was launched in November 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of Watt's Inaugural Lecture as the first Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Scotland.

Speaker Date Venue Theme

Professor Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi (École Pratique des Hautes Études/PSL - Sorbonne)

27 May 2024 50 George Square Shi'i Islam: Doctrinal Foundations and Historical Developments

Professor Paul Starkey (Durham University)

30 October 2019 David Hume Tower In Search of Identity: Faris al-Shidyaq and the 19th-Century Arabic Revival

Dr Linda Komaroff (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

28 November 2018 50 George Square Dining with the Sultan: Reflections on the Fine Art of Feasting at the Islamic Courts
Professor Nur Masalha (SOAS University of London) 2 November 2017 Playfair Library Powerful Symbols and the British-Zionist Alliance: From Balfour to the Nakba
Professor Maribel Fierro (Spanish National Research Council, Spain) 4 November 2016 Old Medical School Charisma and Anti-Charisma in al-Andalus
  • Professor Carole Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Fred M. Donner (University of Chicago)
  • Dr Richard Holloway FRSE
23 October 2015 Playfair Library
  • Montgomery Watt: The Man and The Scholar
  • The Study of Islam’s Origins since W. Montgomery Watt's Publications
  • Committed Openness: a Glance at William Montgomery Watt’s Religious Life

 Other lectures and talks

a blue background with a geometric pattern and globe with Arabic lettering on the continents and event title overlaid

Date: 28 February 2023

Venue: 50 George Square

Guest speaker: Professor Joel Belcher (George Washington University)

In brief: A lecture by Professor Belcher on lesser-known ports and practices of the 15th century spice trade given at the University. It was organised collaboratively by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, the Edinburgh Centre for Global History, and the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World.

Conferences and symposia

Date: 17 September 2016

Venue: William Robertson Wing, The University of Edinburgh

Speakers: Professor Ted Kaizer (University of Durham); Professor Robert Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh/University of St Andrews); Koray Durak (Bogazici University); Simon Gundelfinger (University of Hamburg); Professor Carole Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh/University of St Andrews); Dr Mike Bishop (University of Oxford)

Organisers: Dr Lucy Grig (Classics, University of Edinburgh) and Dr Andrew Marsham (IMES, University of Edinburgh)

In brief: A one-day conference co-organised by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. The conference comprised six public lectures and a panel discussion, broadly focusing on diverse aspects of the history, material and visual culture of Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Syria, as well as the current challenges to the preservation of Syria's archaeological heritage.

Film screenings and festivals

Date: 11 February 2016

Venue: Filmhouse Cinema, Edinburgh

Speakers: Dr Nacim Pak-Shiraz (University of Edinburgh); Farshid Kazemi (University of Edinburgh)

In brief: This informal and interactive event included a walking tour of the Iranian film posters on display at the Filmhouse Café followed by a discussion on some of the general themes within Iranian cinema, including the poetics and politics of Iranian cinema. 

Exhibitions, workshops and performances

A colourful mosaic pattern with the event title overlaid

Date: 12 December 2022

Venue: The University Chaplaincy

Organiser: The Chaplaincy and the Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies department

In brief: A session delivered and facilitated by Mourad Diouri (IMES) and Rev Geoffrey Baines (The Chaplaincy). It was a hands-on workshop of Islamic Mosaic colouring, journaling and doodling to celebrate the UN’s International Day of Islamic Art on the 18 November 2022.