Friday, 27 May 2011

Islamic Ethics

This innovative and unique new programme is designed to develop students in the key concepts of the Islamic ethical framework. The programme is taught from a multidisciplinary perspective, and introduces the main sources and methodologies for understanding and exploring ethical issues in Islam.

Ethics (akhlaq) has always been a fundamental element of Islamic thought, and it plays a central part of both Muslim jurisprudence (fiqh) and the Islamic theology (‘aqidah). This programme looks at the importance of ethics in the Islamic core sources of Qur’an and Hadith; at how this was conceptualised by early and classical Muslim scholars; and critically examines modern debates about its significance. The programme also examines the engagements and encounters between Muslim and Western scholars regarding theology and philosophy in general, but particularly in the domain of ethics and ethical thinking.

Programme Aims

Students taking this programme will be expected to develop a broad understandingof the methodologies of Qur’anic exegesis (tafseer) and Qur’anic legal approaches, particularly in relation to ethical issues. These concepts will also be explored within wider contemporary studies of ethics and morality, including the study of ethics from other religious perspectives. The programme also gives students the opportunity to explore the key theological issues of Islamic ethics within the contexts of the main areas of contemporary practical ethics, including medicine, the law, and the environment.


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

  • A 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

Students taking this programme may use it either as a base for further research in the area of ethics, or otherwise as an exploration of applied areas with a high degree of practical and contemporary relevance.

Programme Elements

Ethics & Practical Ethics

This course examines the social, classical and philosophical basis of modern conceptions of ethics, and explores contemporary methods of ethical thinking such as ‘badness’ and ‘goodness’, consequentialism, non-consequentialism, values, the separateness-of-persons objection, and what matters and what does not matter.

The relationship between ethics and religion is a major focus of the course. Other areas of study include: the role of ethics in multicultural/multifaith social policies, social settings, social cohesion and social change.

Islamic Ethics: Theory & Issues

This course introduces the concepts, theories and definitions of ethics in Islam, and examines the approaches to ethical issues in Islamic core sources. It investigates the links between ethics and other Islamic disciplines; the methods used by scholars to examine ethics within an Islamic framework; and the importance of ethics in Muslim thought.

Approaches to Ethics in Islam

This course examines different philosophical, mystical and theological trends in the framework of Islamic ethics. It focuses on the writings of classical Muslim scholars and the ideas they put forward, with particular emphasis on the schools of Ash’arites and Mu’tazilites.

Optional Course 1

Students choose one course (subject to availability) from:

  • Environmental Ethics & Islam
  • Introduction to Islamic Law
  • Principles of Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) and Legal Maxims (al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah)

Optional Course 2

Students choose one course (subject to availability) from:

  • Medical Ethics & Islam
  • Legal Ethics & Islam
  • Islamic Family Law & Contemporary Issues
  • Islamic Criminal Law & Contemporary Issues

Postgraduate Research Methods

This course addresses various research methods in the humanities and social sciences (e.g. analytical, comparative, historical and social) and introduces an in-depth critical analysis of contemporary research methods. Students engage with qualitative and quantitative methodologies in historical, textual, anthropological (ethnographic) and social scientific disciplines. They are also expected to reflect on different methodologies and select appropriate methodological approaches for their own research.


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