The MPhil in Islamic Studies and History is a two-year course intended primarily for students who desire an intensive introduction to Islamic history and thought in the pre-modern period. The course is an excellent preparation for subsequent doctoral study.
The course focuses on the political, social, and intellectual history of the central Islamic lands (Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Central Asia and Anatolia) up until c. 1800, and differs from analogous MPhil courses at other universities in the significance it places on language instruction in classical Arabic, Persian and Turkish, and the study of primary sources.
If you are already capable of carrying out research in one of these languages, you will be strongly encouraged to take up a second. Instruction and supervision are carried out by several members of the faculty’s teaching staff.
The first year of the course is devoted to intensive language instruction, six to eight hours per week, and an introduction to Islamic history and religion taught through a combination of weekly lectures and classes. An induction meeting is normally scheduled for new students during noughth week of Michaelmas Term, ie the week before the beginning of full term. By the end of the first year you will have begun to read texts in the original language.
The second year is devoted to continuing language instruction, more focused work on two elective papers, and a thesis.
At the end of the first year, you will sit a qualifying examination in the language you have been studying. The second year ends with a set of examinations. You will normally spend the summer between years one and two in the Middle East for language study.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Oriental Studies.