Muslim Minorities in a Global Context (MA)


Understand the challenges faced by Muslim minority communities and their host societies with a prestigious MA by distance learning

Political shifts in Muslim majority countries have put Muslim minorities in the spotlight and impacted upon their relationship with their host societies.

This new highly interdisciplinary programme gives you an opportunity to consider Muslim minority communities comparatively, within both western and non-western contexts.

What will you gain from this programme?

  • You will explore key themes such as ethnicity, gender, Islamaphobia, and the religious interpretations and practices that have raised unique challenges within different Muslim minority communities.
  • The programme is highly interdisciplinary and offers a flexible combination of module choices including law, history, international relations, and diplomacy.
  • You will improve transferable skills, including time-management, analytical skills, and written communication - all of which will benefit you in your current and future careers.

Programme details

  You study Study period Cost (2017-18)
MA 4 x 30 credit modules
1 x 60 credit dissertation
2-5 years £10,000


The MA Muslim Minorities in a Global Context is developed by the Department of Religions and Philosophies and is delivered by the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD).

The centre promotes cross-disciplinary teaching that combines the distinctive expertise of SOAS with cutting-edge research and public discussion of international politics.

Career enhancement

As a student of the MA in Muslim Minorities, you will develop the necessary skills to work in a wide range of professions that require an understanding of inter-cultural relations and policy-making at both local and national levels.

You'll also gain expertise in evaluating materials from different sources, including the media, governments, legal documents, and academic research.

How you study

As a distance-learning student, the programme is taught online through a Virtual Learning Environment. You'll receive access to:

  • Learning materials and course resources at any time so you can fit your studies around your existing commitments.
  • Specific materials for each module.
  • The SOAS and University of London online library facilities.

A key component of the student experience will be peer-to-peer learning, which takes place through dedicated discussion forums.

Your time commitment

We expect that the vast majority of students will take two years to complete the MA degree. There will be two sixteen-week study sessions plus two dissertation study sessions during a calendar year.

You should expect to devote between 10-15 hours a week to your studies during these periods.

Summary of key dates

MA Muslim Minorities in a Global Context
Application deadline 30 September 2017 31 March 2018
Start of session 17 October 2017 17 April 2018
End of session 09 February 2018 TBC



Structure and syllabus

The MA in Muslim Minorities in a Global Context consists of four modules and a dissertation, as follows:
• One core module: Muslim Minorities in a Global Context (30 credits)
• Three subject modules selected from a list (3 x 30 credits)
• One compulsory dissertation module (60 credits)

One core module

Muslim Minorities in a Global Context

This module gives students an insight into the diversity of Muslim minority communities at a time when political shifts in Muslim majority countries – such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and across the MENA region – have put Muslim minorities into the spotlight and impacted upon their relationship with their host countries.

The module traces the emergence and development of Muslim minorities in both Western and non-Western contexts, and examines how Muslims have forged new identities as they have negotiated their places within their host societies. The objective of the module is to enable students to understand the interconnecting variables with respect to class, gender and regional location, as well as religious interpretation and practice, which have resulted in issues arising uniquely within different Muslim minority communities. They will consider the ways in which Muslim minorities impact national policies in non-Muslim states and engage with terms such as ‘integration’, ‘assimilation’, ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘islamophobia’ within different contexts. The course includes an historical overview of Muslim migrations, aspects of civil society, the interaction of Muslim laws and the state laws of various jurisdictions, and the role of the media in shaping Muslims’ relationship with their host environment. 

PLUS three electives from the following

Introduction to Islam

This is a comprehensive and introductory survey course to the field of the Study of Islam, systematically introducing students with no or little pre-knowledge to important historical developments across the Muslim world since the inception of Islam, to the textual foundation of this religion and distinct way of interpreting these texts in past and present. This course will provide the basis for all other courses on Islam-related matters.

Muslim Minorities and the State: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

This module explores the development of government policies in non-Muslim countries towards Muslim minority communities, from the colonial era to the present day. It focuses on eight countries: Britain, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, and Singapore, using these as case studies to explore the issues raised in both western and non-western contexts. In all cases the importance of colonial legacies for understanding the contemporary situation of Muslims in these countries is a focal point for reading and discussion. In addition, the module offers a theoretical approach to Muslim minorities more generally, expanding on some of the key themes and issues covered in the introductory module for the Programme. Upon completion of this module, students will have acquired the methodological expertise to apply themselves to the study of other Muslim minorities in different geographic locations living under different jurisdictions.

Islamic Law in a Global Context

This module is a study of law in Islam critically analysing juridical views of scholars as well as legal practices of ordinary Muslims within Muslim societies of the contemporary world. It is designed to complement the core programme module, Muslim Minorities, and expands on the 4-week component of that module.  Its major aim is to expose students to different visions of law in Islam, its processes or procedures, and its roles or functions in Muslim communities. Students will examine critically what is meant by ‘Islamic’ as opposed to ‘Muslim law’, the process of law-making, authority and agency in Islam, specifically how such processes are determined and by whom, and how the principles of the qur ‘an and sunna in contemporary times have been translated into socially workable rules. Students will be asked to consider a variety of selected legal issues involving property disputes, marriage and divorce, Islamic criminal justice, Islamic finance, Islamic philanthropy and women rights. In relation to the latter, particular attention is paid to the role of social movements and other factors in bringing about change towards gender mainstreaming of shari ‘a. Through selected case studies in both Muslim minority and Muslim majority contexts students will explore the various discourses against the backdrop of 'tradition' versus 'modernity', as well as the issues regarding different notions of human rights. Some knowledge of what it means to be Muslim in a Musim majority country will enable students better to understand the challenges faced by Muslim minority communities living within non-Islamic jurisdictions.

Religions and Development

Despite projections of increasing secularisation, religions continue to play a vital role in the societies of many developing countries, which has multiple implications for development efforts. Major development organisations now seek to integrate religious actors or collaborate with faith-based organisations. Religious groups increasingly project their own visions of social advancement and the role of traditions, which may be found to clash with Western values or those of other religions. In development studies this configuration has led to a renewal of the controversial debate about religions and development, with new research and publications emerging.

The course explores this increasing field of study from two angles. On the one hand it follows the scholarly debate on religions and development by providing a historical overview since the 1950s and studying concrete positions and policy documents until the present day. On the other hand it explores specific issues in relation to religions and development in Africa and South Asia, such as the role of religions in determining social class, the implications of the rise of prosperity Pentecostalism, the persistent battle against female genital mutilation, the integration of religious sentiments and traditions in education, Western medicine and traditional beliefs about health and illness, and the role of religious actors and interreligious relations in the formation of development polity.

The Art of Negotiation

This module provides students with an understanding of three interrelated elements of Diplomacy. The first is the key concepts of diplomacy, the second is the institutional development from the Renaissance to World War II, and the third looks at the development of Consular Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main part of the module then looks closely at the 'art of negotiation'. Beginning with a consideration of strategy and tactics, it proceeds through the main stages of negotiations, takes in diplomatic momentum en route, and concludes with an examination of the 'packaging' of diplomatic agreements.

Global Public Policy

Gain an understanding of public policy making in a context of intensifying globalisation and transnational political contestation. You will undertake rigorous and critical analysis of policy and the complex processes by which it is formulated, adopted and implemented.

International Security

Focusing on developments since the end of the Cold War, you will be given the analytical tools to think critically and independently about the nature of contemporary international security. You will consider a range of contemporary security issues including terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Iraq War and the future of the Middle East, and the prospects for peace and security in the 21st century.

Strategic Studies

The area of strategic studies is increasingly relevant in light of conflicts in the past decade in Ukraine, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. You will address a range of strategic influences such as power and force, asymmetric/irregular warfare, and the role of security providers such as NATO. The relationship between strategy and policy will be explored through a series of case studies including US involvement in Vietnam and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Global Diplomacy: Citizenship & Advocacy

The aim of this course is to teach the theories and skills that allow you to be a more effective in achieving your advocacy objectives. The course aims to illustrate how to influence policy at the international, rather than national, level. The course equips you to effect the policy changes necessary to meet the aims of the non-governmental and international organisations you might be working for or associated with. In short, this course focuses upon advocates who wish to achieve change at the global level, networking across national boundaries and on global issues.

Political Islam in South Asia

You will gain an understanding of the ways in which Islamism circulates in contemporary South Asia in a range of different contexts across the region. The historical roots of political Islam in South Asia will be explored in relation to colonialism and the emergence of politicised religion while its contemporary legacy will be charted out in terms of recent regional and global developments.

Contemporary India: State, Society and Politics

You will become conversant with a number of current themes which are shaping contemporary India and use a range of conceptual tools to evaluate the political shifts that have taken place in the electoral ascent of Hindu nationalism alongside emerging civil society movements. By engaging with contemporary literature and debate you will develop a deeper and broader understanding of how state, society and politics are evolving in contemporary India.


Dissertation - Muslim Minorities in a Global Context

The dissertation is the longest piece of analytic writing in the MA and provides students the opportunity to develop an independent sustained piece of individual, academic research on their chosen topic within the field. The dissertation is fully supported by the Distance Learning team and a suite of resources specifically designed for the course.

General knowledge and learning aims are as follows: The ability to demonstrate an in-depth critical understanding of the nature and development of Muslim minority communities around the world, their respective historical backgrounds and the large number of interconnecting variables with respect to ethnicity, class, gender and regional location, drawing on a variety of contributing disciplines; Draw upon and critically evaluate a wide range of source materials including academic studies, legal documents, newspapers and journals, documentary and literary materials; A sound grounding in both theoretical and empirical approaches to debates in the field of Muslim minority studies and related fields such as law and Islamic jurisprudence, diaspora studies, gender and media studies.

By providing a thorough grounding in the subject, students are made aware of the importance of this topic to a critical understanding of Muslim minority groups in a global context, how they perceive themselves and are perceived by their host communities.

Study materials

How you study

The MA in Muslim Minorities in a Global Context is based on a proven model of Distance Learning delivery that places the student experience at the centre of our collective endeavours.

The programme’s design is particularly structured to draw out the relevant working experience of students during their studies on the programme.

Students take one subject module at a time which is studied over a sixteen-week study session.

There will be two sixteen-week study sessions plus two dissertation study sessions during a calendar year. Support and feedback for students will be available from your dedicated Associate Tutor. Your expectation should be to graduate within a 2-year time period.

The programme will employ a range of innovative and engaging student-focused assessments appropriate to the distance learning mode of delivery.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

You will be able to access all learning materials through the VLE including:
  • Current module materials
  • Learning activities (E-tivities) specifically designed to meet the module learning outcomes
  • The University of London Online Library
  • A dedicated Associate Tutor to facilitate student learning.


Fee per module£ 2,500
Total MA£ 10,000
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Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for

  • the fee charged to your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


If you are a UK or EU national and you have lived in England for three years, you could be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan.


Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.


Student learning is intimately linked to assessment in the programme to ensure students do as well as they can.

Each module for the MA in Muslim Minorities, with the exception of the Dissertation module, will be assessed by the completion of six e-tivities*.

The tasks and weightings for each e-tivity for a module are as follows:

• E-tivity 1: Access and socialisation – 0%

• E-tivity 2: Library information retrieval – 5%

• E-tivity 3: Literature critique (directed) – 5%

• E-tivity 4: Essay proposal – 15%

• E-tivity 5: Literature critique (bespoke) – 5%

The sixth e-tivity in each module will be assessed in the form of  a 4000 – 5000 word  coursework essay submitted via Turnitin.

The grade awarded for the module is based on the mark obtained in the written coursework submission (e-tivity 6) and on the combined mark for the e-tivities on the module. The ratio of the written coursework to continuous assessment (e-tivities 1-5) is 70:30.

The assessment for all modules is progressive and designed to be completed in sequence.

The Dissertation is assessed by the submission of a written dissertation of not more than 15,000 words which will account for 85% of the grade awarded for the module. The remaining 15% of the module grade will be based on the mark obtained for a 1,500 word research proposal.

*an 'E-tivity' is a framework for online, active and interactive learning following a format which states clearly to the students its 'Purpose'; the 'Task' at hand; the contribution or 'Response' type; and the 'Outcome' (Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, New York and London: Routledge Falmer.


Academic Requirements

In order to be considered for admission as an International Programmes student, applicants must also submit an application that is in accordance with the procedures and deadlines set out on the CISD website

To be registered for the MA in Muslim Minorities in a Global Context, an applicant must have, either:

• in a relevant discipline, a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree from a UK university or other institution

acceptable to the University, or an equivalent international qualification (qualifications in other subjects will be assessed on their merits)


• in a relevant discipline, previous education and experience without a UK Bachelor’s degree, or international equivalent, that satisfies the University and has included suitable preliminary training.

Applications will be welcome from applicants with unconventional career paths and consideration will be given to work experience.

Language Requirements

For all of our modules you are required to have a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to a score of 7.0 overall in the IELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

Certain courses may have addtional requirements, such as:

  • Microphone and speakers
  • software to manage spreadsheets and run macros
  • software for playing mp3 and mp4 files.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

CISD - Academic leadership

Lead College

The Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) at SOAS, University of London, is committed to the promotion of excellence in teaching, scholarship and research, the development of applied international studies and to ensuring that its work impacts key international debates.

The mission of CISD is to promote cross-disciplinary teaching that combines the distinctive expertise of SOAS with cutting-edge research and public discussion of international politics in a globalising world. The Centre's research on corporate governance, on disarmament and globalisation and on the origins and future of the United Nations exemplify this approach.

SOAS offers an education that goes beyond the Euro-centre approach that has dominated such programmes in the past. It is able to do this because the width and depth of its scholarly resources make it the leading centre for the study of Asia and Africa in Europe.

If you are interested in developing an international career and are seeking a professionally relevant postgraduate programme, we hope what we offer will be of value.

Your Academic and Support staff

You will have a dedicated Associate Tutor who will work with you and your fellow students throughout the modules you take. At no point will you be without someone to assist you on your learning journey.

Additionally, the Programme Director, Dr Sarah Stewart will act as your Personal Tutor throughout your studies.
For more information about Dr Stewart, please visit the SOAS website.

Apply online

Hear from the tutor

Simon Perfect, Associate Tutor, SOAS

Simon Perfect, an associate tutor at SOAS, speaks about the new MA in London Connection.