Undergraduate study | Islamic Studies
Combine the study of Islam's rich history, culture and intellectual heritage with its place in the modern world.
Why take Islamic Studies in Edinburgh?
Islam is the religion of almost a quarter of all human beings alive today. Across the world, around 1.8 billion people consider themselves Muslim.
Our Islamic Studies MA Honours programme is designed to give you a thorough grounding in the history and traditions of Islam, as well as the ability to think critically and comparatively about Islam and other religious traditions. You'll study the religion, culture, literature, history and politics of the Islamic world, with the option to take courses from other subject areas such as history of art and social anthropology.
Edinburgh has a well-established international reputation for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) and is ranked sixth in the UK for Middle Eastern & African Studies in the Complete University Guide 2022. We are the only university in Scotland to offer courses in the Muslim world's three main languages, and you will learn introductory Arabic as part of your degree.
Study with us and you’ll be part of a friendly community of staff and students, with great links to the Alwaleed Centre, fantastic resources, a thriving student Islamic Society, and a regular programme of workshops, film screenings and guest seminars, all within a School passionate about languages, literatures and cultures from around the globe.
Diversity, equality, and inclusion are at the heart of Edinburgh University. I enjoy and look forward to the lectures and seminars. Our lecturers are from diverse backgrounds and bring with them a wealth of expertise and experience. The support staff are very friendly, supportive, and understanding.
- You’ll complete a four-year MA (Hons) degree, engaging with a broad range of subjects in your first two years, then specialising in the aspects of Islamic Studies that interest you most.
Years 1 & 2
- Our programmes are very flexible. In your first two years, alongside language learning, you'll study a range of courses giving you a broad knowledge base and transferable skills. This may enable you to change the focus of your degree going into your final two (honours) years, which is when you start to specialise.
- You'll learn Arabic in first year, with the option to take it on into second year. There are also options to study Persian and Turkish. All of these open up a range of original material from our collections.
Years 3 & 4
- You may have the option to study abroad for a full year or half a year during your third year. Regardless of location, you will study a range of courses on subjects relating to Islam or the Middle East.
- You will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. Our size and scale means that we have an extensive range of honours courses for you to choose from.
- You’ll be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, in the city’s historic centre. Our Georgian building has its own library and the Main University Library is just across the square from us, housing over 23,000 IMES resources, including Islamic manuscripts.
Teaching and learning
- Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven to help you gain skills for life after university.
- Across your courses, you’ll typically be taught in a combination of lectures, tutorials (including language classes) and seminars. On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years.
- You will also be expected to study independently and in small groups, and to read widely.
Assessment and support
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.
- Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills.
- Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.
- If you go abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.
- As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development and Edinburgh University Students' Association.
Islamic Studies is a single honours degree. There’s lots of information about the programme on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about:
- the courses you will take each year
- entrance requirements
- English language requirements
- fees and funding opportunities
Applications for 2024 entry are now closed. If you have applied for one of our degrees or are holding an offer to start studying with us in September 2024, check out our applicant and offer holder website for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.
If you’d like to study on this programme, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Skills and experience
Graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility, including the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.
Additionally, this programme will give you a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies, and how they shape our world, giving you the Intercultural Competence valued by employers around the globe. Learning Arabic in your first year (with the option to continue into Year 2) will also sharpen your written and oral communications skills.
Opportunities at home and away
With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for graduates with a knowledge of the Islamic World both at home and abroad.
Your degree in Islamic Studies, which includes some language learning, is an excellent primer for a range of careers. Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:
Business and commerce
Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
Education, outreach, advocacy and training
Journalism, broadcasting and media
Leisure, tourism and travel
Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
Research, development and venture acceleration
The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can take a taught or research-led Masters in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, or choose from MScs in The Globalised Muslim World, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and more.
Get to know us better
Thinking of joining us this year or next? Explore what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.
- Take a Virtual Visit - Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
- Join us for an Open Day or Online Information Session
Talk to a current student