The Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) is a three-year interdisciplinary programme offered by the Institute of Ismaili Studies and validated by SOAS University of London. Small cohorts of students enable lecturers and tutors to engage them in the in-depth discussion and critical exploration of subjects which range from material history from antiquity to the early Islamic period, to topics in religion, literature, art and identity in diverse historical and contemporary global contexts. Students on GPISH are supported by an inclusive team to help them work on engaging and innovative subjects and fulfil their academic and personal potential in a stimulating learning environment. GPISH trains students to use the intellectual tools of the humanities and social sciences and to explore perspectives which relate religious ideas to broader dimensions of society and culture.
Islam’s civilisational achievements are studied at the same time as its theological and religious expressions across time. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to studying Islamic history and thought, special attention is paid to issues of modernity that arise as Muslims relate their heritage to contemporary circumstances, all of which contribute to an enriched academic curriculum.
In the context of Muslim societies, GPISH is informed by the full range and diversity of cultures in which Islam is practised today, from the Middle East, Southern and Central Asia, and Africa to the industrialised societies of the West, thus taking into consideration the variety of contexts which shape the beliefs, practices and ideals of the faith. Within the Islamic tradition, GPISH promotes research areas which have had relatively lesser attention devoted to them. These include the intellectual and literary expressions of Shi‘ism in general and Ismailism in particular.
GPISH is a fully funded scholarship programme which covers the cost of tuition fees and includes a living allowance in line with the UK Visas and Immigration’s stated cost of living. For further information, please see the UK Visas and Immigration website
If you are new to the study of Islam and the humanities
GPISH welcomes high-achieving students from all academic backgrounds, and the study of Islam or the humanities is not a prerequisite for gaining admission. Working closely with experienced faculty members, students are supported during the IIS component of the programme to make the transition from previous study experiences to an analytical understanding of and ability to work competently with the new subject matter. It is essential to note, however, that as part of the admissions process applicants must demonstrate a genuine motivation for studying Islam and the humanities. This will involve being able to show understanding of key ideas in Islamic studies and the humanities, and the potential for Master’s-level study of these subjects in the UK.
If you have studied Islam or the humanities before
Having studied Islam or the humanities before will offer some advantage to students, as they are likely to have been introduced to ideas and subject matter covered by the first two years of the programme. The richness and unique synthesising and interdisciplinary approach of the IIS component, however, covers areas of research not studied elsewhere; as such, those students with a proven interest or academic record in studying Islam or the humanities will find themselves appropriately challenged and stimulated by the curriculum.
Please note that if you already have a Master’s degree in Islamic studies when you apply, you should enquire with programme staff to discuss your application.