Graduate Studies in the Islamic World at Oxford

Ablution Room at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Ablution Room at Sheikh Zayed Grand
Mosque, Abu Dhabi

The Islamic World Subject Group is a large and active part of the faculty, with about twenty-five members, representing a broad range of interests and specialities from pre-Islamic Arabia to the Modern Middle East. In addition to the Laudian Professorship of Arabic, which was established in 1633, it consists of the Khalid bin `Abdullah Al-Sa`ud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, the Masoumeh and Fareydoon Soudavar Professor of Persian Studies, twelve university lecturers (many of who hold the title of professor), a senior instructor, five instructors, and many research staff, in Arabic language and literature, Persian, Turkish, Islamic and Modern Middle Eastern History, Islamic Philosophy, Islamic Art, Archaeology and Numismatics. Unfortunately, language instruction in Ottoman Turkish is currently unavailable.

Through its long-standing traditions and more recent gifts Oxford has unique resources for Islamic Studies. The Bodleian Library has a magnificent collection of books and manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and other relevant languages, built up since the seventeenth century. The Oriental Institute , which opened in 1961, is the centre where almost all teaching is done, and acts as a focus for everyone working and studying in the field. It has a lending library of some 80,000 books. There are also centres and institutes for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East (Khalili Research Centre, St John’s Street) and for the Modern Middle East (MEC, St Antony’s College). Adjacent to the Oriental Institute is the Ashmolean Museum, which houses a superb collection of Islamic artefacts, used in the teaching of Islamic art and archaeology, and the Sackler Library, which holds a large open collection of Islamic art and archaeology.

Pigeon tower near Isfahan

Pigeon tower near Isfahan

Oriental Studies is home to a community of about 200 graduate students, of whom about 75 are studying the Islamic world. Approximately half Islamic World graduates are following a taught masters course, either a one-year Master of Studies (M.St.) or a two-year Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.). The remainder are studying for a research degree, typically a doctorate (D.Phil.). Because doctoral students will normally have attained a masters degree, either at Oxford or elsewhere, many of our masters students are in fact in preparing for subsequent doctoral research.