The Institute of Ismaili Studies

A view of the Aga Khan Centre at dusk

The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) is a higher education and academic research institute. IIS was established in 1977 to promote scholarship and learning about Muslim cultures and societies. The Institute’s research and higher education programmes encourage a perspective that is not confined to the theological and religious heritage of Islam, rather they seek to explore the relationship of religious ideas to broader dimensions of society and culture. In addition to a civilisational approach to the study of Islam, our programmes encourage a multiplicity of approaches, disciplines, expressions and interpretations.

The Institute’s research, publications and educational programmes seek to promote scholarship on hitherto marginalised areas of the study of Islam. These include the intellectual and literary heritage of Shi‘i Islam in general, and its Ismaili traditions in particular. The preservation and study of items that elucidate the heritage of the Ismaili communities has been an integral part of the Institute’s work since its inception. Our Special Collections Unit seeks to preserve, catalogue, digitise and make available for study, the valuable textual heritage of the Ismaili community. The Institute’s collection includes manuscripts, rare and special printed materials, coins, artefacts and archival materials as well as photographs and audio-visual materials. Today, IIS is recognised as a leading academic research centre for Ismaili Studies.

Building on the strength of its established research and publications programmes, IIS maintains its reputation as a premier reference point for Ismaili Studies, whilst increasingly becoming a pioneer for scholarship in Shi‘i and Quranic studies.

IIS aims to contribute to the academic study of the diversity of Islam as a faith and as a civilisation, by addressing intellectual and practical issues both historically and in the present context. In the context of Muslim societies, the Institute’s programmes are informed by the full range and diversity of cultures in which Islam is practised today. Particular attention is also given to issues of modernity that arise as Muslims seek to relate their heritage to contemporary circumstances. IIS also responds to the educational needs of an increasingly dynamic and globalised Ismaili community by developing and producing early childhood, primary and secondary curricula materials, whilst training future scholars, teachers and leaders.  

IIS offers two Masters level taught programmes, a Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) and a Secondary Teacher Education Programme. The Institute collaborates with several higher education institutions to deliver its taught programmes. Both programmes of study draw on teaching faculty from our research department as well as visiting scholars from leading national and international academic institutions. GPISH is validated with an MA degree from SOAS University of London and the MA component of STEP is awarded by UCL. The Institute’s graduate programmes as well its range of doctoral scholarships and fellowships, attracts [Ismaili] students from across the world. The student body is diverse and aims to bring together students with a range of cultural and social backgrounds, creating a thriving environment for learning both inside and outside the classroom. IIS also collaborates with other institutions of the Ismaili Imamatinfo-icon and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

Further details regarding the Institute’s programmes and activities can be found in the brochure below: