Taught course

Political Islam

University of Glasgow · School of Critical Studies

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject unless otherwise specified.

International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses.

Months of entry


Course content

This Masters degree in Political Islam has been specifically designed for those who wish to comprehend the main currents of Islamic thinking during the modern period. This will involve investigating a number of radical Islamic movements as well as alternative understandings of Islam.

Why this programme

  • The University of Glasgow offers a number of course options that may be taken by students, such as the courses provided within the Global Securities programme.
  • The course is taught by experts in Theology and Religious Studies. Assistance is offered by staff who teach outside of the Islamic tradition, which will be of use for those interested, for example, in Islamic-Christian relations or forms of literature within the Islamic tradition.
  • The programme is sufficiently flexible to enable students to concentrate on specific areas of study, or to concentrate on a more general range of issues.
  • Linguistic ability in Arabic, Persian, Turkish (or any other non-European language) is not essential.
  • Students are encouraged to participate in the wider seminar series offered in the subject area in order to gain a comprehensive knowledge of religion and culture in the contemporary world. (There are experts in Chinese religions, Judaism and Christianity with Theology and Religious Studies).
  • Glasgow has a large Muslim community. There are possibilities to engage with this local community.

Programme structure

This MSc in Political Islam investigates a number of “radical” Islamic movements such as Salafism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Islamic revival in Iran post-1978. At the same time, alternative understandings of Islam will be examined including the so-called “liberal” version, Islamic feminist thinking and contemporary manifestations of Sufism (the so-called “mystical” side of Islam).

As the course progresses the topics will engage with the historical Islamic tradition, so that students will appreciate the wide variety of “Islams” that have appeared in modern times. An understanding of Islam is imperative in the contemporary period, with issues such as security, identity and immigration appearing on a daily basis in the Western media. Islam is no longer a religion that is confined to the Middle East, but needs to be understood as an integral part of British society and culture. The challenges and issues that Muslims face require urgent investigation, and this course provides the framework for students to engage with the changes that affect everyone in society.

The programme is designed for small groups that will discuss the topics in a seminar environment. There will be formal lectures and the occasional guest speaker. The basis of the programme will be textual, and will involve class/group discussions about the material provided. Core teaching is delivered in two semesters, followed by a dissertation. The project dissertation is an opportunity for students to identify an area of interest and to create a research project that allows in-depth critical exploration of this.

Core and optional courses

Core courses:

  • Political Islam (30 credits)
  • Modern Islamic Thought (30 credits)

Students must also write a dissertation which is compulsory.

Optional courses:

  • Muhammad
  • Religion and Violence
  • Directed Study

Students may also take one course outside of those offered within Theology and Religious Studies.

Career prospects

With the current interest in Islam, this degree provides essential knowledge and skills for those involved in teaching, the civil service, government, the police and the military. The degree also provides an excellent entry into a PhD related to Islamic Studies.

Information for international students

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification:

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 90; no sub-test less than:
    • Reading: 20
    • Listening: 19
    • Speaking: 19
    • Writing: 23
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Visit our website to find information.

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Critical Studies PG Enquiries