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, established in 1977 to promote scholarship and learning about Muslim cultures and societies. Our research and higher education programmes are 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, we encourage a multiplicity of approaches, disciplines, expressions and interpretations.

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. Building on the strength of its established research and publications programmes, and its manuscript collections, the IIS has a reputation as a leading reference point for Ismaili studies, and is  increasingly becoming a pioneer for scholarship in Shi‘i and Quranic studies.

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. The IIS 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 archives, as well as photographs and audio-visual materials.

The IIS offers two Masters level taught programmes: the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) and the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP). 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 (University College London). The Institute’s graduate programmes, as well as its range of doctoral scholarships and fellowships, attract students and scholars from across the world. The student body brings together Ismaili students from diverse cultural and social backgrounds, creating a thriving environment for learning, both inside and outside the classroom.

The 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.

The IIS also collaborates with other institutions of the Ismaili Imamatinfo-icon and the Aga Khaninfo-icon Development Network (AKDN) and is an active member of the Knowledge Quarter. We collaborate with Oxford University Press and Bloomsbury Publishing to publish our books.

The IIS is incorporated in England as a company limited by guarantee, as well as being registered with the Charity Commission since 2018. In addition, the IIS is registered with and regulated by the Office for Students, the independent regulator of all higher education institutions in England.

The IIS holds a Tier 4 licence for the enrolment of non-EEA (European Economic Area) as required to comply with the UK Visa and Immigration requirements set out in the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance.

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