Friday, 27 May 2011

Gender & Islam


This timely new programme aims to address the challenges arising from contemporary changes around the world, particularly in terms of the revival of Islamic movements in the last few decades. All these movements, either to conservative or progressive, Shi’ite or Sunni, have a central place for gender issues in their political and cultural ideologies, policies and discourses. By recognising and validating the diversity of gender issues in terms of different ideological perspectives and practices, this programme singles out itself from other gender studies programmes in the UK that mainly tend to focus on Western feminist theories and the development of feminist consciousness.

Programme Aims

This programme will promote an interdisciplinary study of gender and cross-cultural and comparative theoretical and methodological perspectives, and textual enquiry by placing Islam and Islamic frameworks at the centre of analysis. It aims to provide students with an opportunity to explore and research gender issues and gendered aspects of social and cultural life in relation to Islam and Muslims – majority regions of the world as well as European countries where Muslims have established strong communities and identities.   Students will be exposed to a range of conceptual, theoretical and methodological approaches to the feminist discourses and the questions of gender and Islam as well as gender in Islamic framework.  They will be familiarised with the epistemological and philosophical underpinnings of feminist methodologies and to provide a framework to study, research, and understand some debates and research topics within diverse Islamic cultural settings.  There will be analyse of gender and its intersections with other categories of identity, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, disability, and religion. They will also analyse various social and cultural constructions of “masculinity” and “femininity”, the social processes, cultural representations, relations of power, and forms of knowledge that have generated a variety of feminist theories and perspectives.

As a new programme, the course will incite new discussions on different issues in association with Gender and Islam. The focus will be on theory and practice of gender relations in Muslim-majority countries as well as in countries such as European countries, where Muslims form large communities for whom Islam provides a guide of life. The programme will investigate the causes of women’s oppression in Muslim societies and the role of Islamic teachings and framework in the promotion of egalitarian gender relations.


There are no exams.  All assessment is by coursework, with most subjects assessed by a combination of:

  • Critical review (2,000 words)
  • An Essay (3-4,000 words)
  • A Seminar Presentation

Students who undertake an MLitt will also be required to complete a research dissertation of 15-18,000 words.

Further Study & Careers

This programme will be useful for those who want to go on to teach in the field. Others may use their expertise and qualifications to go on to further studies, or to work in areas such as: government services at local, national and international levels; diplomacy; consultancy and project work, developing cooperation in non-governmental and international organisations; the media; the voluntary sector and NGOs.

Programme Elements

Feminist Thought & Ideologies

The course equips students to contribute to the understanding of gender issues. It allows students to explore the impact of gender aspects, gender difference, and gender constructions on behaviour, social structures, government policy, cultural representations and debate.

The course also examines the role of gender assumptions, biases, and hypotheses, historically and cross-culturally, and enables students to assess the impact of gender-related research on knowledge, public policy, customs and beliefs.

Gender & Islam

This course explores and examines sacred scriptures and codes of conduct, as well as fictional writing and film, to enable students to explore a wide range of social and religious traditions. It investigates key concepts such as: Others/Exotic; Mimicry; Hybridity; and Subaltern Subject in the context of gender theories and Muslim societies.

The course also covers debates between Western and Non-Western feminists, and considers questions of transnational identity politics. Examples are drawn from Islamic societies and from current debates about gender, sexuality and Islam, in Western countries.

Optional Courses 1 & 2

Students choose two courses from a list which will be made available at the start of the Autumn Semester.

Optional Course 3

Students choose one course from a list which will be made available at the start of the Spring Semester.

Postgraduate Research Methods: Feminist Methodologies

This course introduces both qualitative and quantitative research methods and approaches. Students will focus in particular on different methodological approaches from feministic perspectives and apply them to their own research.


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