POL2112 : History of Islamic and Arab Political Thought (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Islamic and Arabic political thought has gained increasing attention in recent years but it remains widely misunderstood and misused in political debates. This module provides essential historical background but does not neglect the contemporary significance of debates over the nature of Islamic and Arabic political thought, including a more global focus than is normally found in courses on the subject. Students will finish the module with greater confidence in their knowledge of a difficult subject and a humble awareness of the limitations of their understanding.

Outline Of Syllabus

Part I. Traditional Thought
1. Introduction
2. Life of Mohammed in Context
3. The Early Caliphate
4. The Quran, Hadith, Shari’a and Fiqh
5. Revealed Religion and Philosophy (Falasfa)
6. Early Islamic Political Philosophy
7. Conservative Consolidation
8. Later Medieval Islamic Political Thought
9. The Rise and Fall of Islamic States
10. Tolerance and Intolerance in 18th Century Islam

Part II. Modern Thought
11. Early Attempts at Reform
12. Islam and Imperialism
13. Liberalism and Secularism
14. Pan-Arabism
15. Early Political Islam
16. Shi’a Radicalism and Theocracy
17. The Rise of Sunni Radicalism and ‘Jihadism’
18. Extreme Islamist Thinkers and Movements
19. Islam and Democracy
20. Islamic Feminism
21. Islam in Western Political Thought
22. Muslim Minorities in the West and Beyond
23. Examination revision session

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture231:0023:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Essay help and exam revision sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1641:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

There is much new and challenging information in the module so traditional lectures and seminars are the best way to convey the information to students. The lectures introduce the material, the students engage in independent reading to try to understanding it and then this understanding is tested and solidified in the seminar activities and discussion.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A75N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M251500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay focuses on the early thinkers and concepts needed to understand the basic debates in Islamic thought. It will provide students will feedback on the level of understanding obtained so far and serve as invaluable preparation for the examination. The examination focuses on modern developments in Islamic and Arabic thought though still relies on students to understand the relevance and impact of earlier thinkers. Both the essay and examination focus on short passages of texts (gobbets) on which students must explain the meaning of the text, the basis on which it was written and its subsequent influence in Islamic political thought.

Reading Lists