This is a ground-breaking and pioneering programme that explores the relationship between Islam and the fields of medical ethics, the environment and the law. In recent years, increasing globalisation has raised many questions, dilemmas and challenges in a variety of social arenas around the world.
These questions are often associated with diversity, multiculturalism and the significance of religious identity, and many relate to ethical dilemmas surrounding new medical developments such as research with human subjects, genetics, abortion, organ transplantation, drugs, cosmetic surgery, transsexualism, death and dying, reproduction, stem cell research and cloning.
There are also serious discussions about the challenges of sustainability and the environment. This programme examines these issues in the context of Islamic theoretical perspectives, and also explores current policy and practice in different Muslim countries.
The programme is taught from multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives and focusses on philosophical and sociological viewpoints arising from various understandings of Islamic tradition. It is designed to address some of the key questions facing Islam and the wider world today such as: ‘How are ‘ethics’ viewed in different Muslim countries?’; ‘How should Islamic thought respond to the latest medical developments?’; ‘How do ‘Islamic’ values relate to ‘universal norms’ such as the Helsinki Convention?’; ‘Can ‘Islam’ provide a theoretical framework to respond to contemporary environmental challenges?’
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 MSc will also be required to complete a research dissertation of 15-18,000 words.
Further Study & Careers
This unique programme provides an opportunity for anyone aiming to teach or research in this new field. Opportunities exist for specialists in practical ethics in government agencies, NGOs, the voluntary sector, and in social and not-for-profit organisations, in areas such as medicine, law and the environment.
Ethics & Practical Ethics
The course examines social, classical and philosophical foundations underpinning modern conceptions of ethics and explores major contemporary ways of ethical thinking: consequentialism, non-consequentialism, values, the separateness-of-persons objection, the ‘badness’ or ‘goodness’ of things, e.g. death, what matters and what does not matter. Exploring the relationship between ethics and religion will be given a special attention. The other content areas are: role of ethics in multicultural/ multi-faith social policies, social settings as well as social cohesion and social change.
Environmental Ethics and Islam
The course introduces the concept of ‘environmental ethics’ through critically examining different associated perceptions as well as philosophical and sociological approaches in association with Islam. The course explores the main philosophical and contemporary notions of environmental thinking in relation to Islam and Muslims, such as nature and domination, the moral status of animals and their equal considerations, species and extinction, ethics of respect for nature, ecology and green theory, values, and what we owe future generations. Special consideration will be given to the possibility of understanding and construction of theoretical ‘Islam’ in a way it could tackle such challenges in the world. It is also important to relate the contemporary challenges of environment with globalisation, capitalism and consumer ethics, particularly in the Muslim contexts of the Middle East.
Optional Course 1
This is chosen from a list each semester.
Medical Ethics & Islam
The course introduces the concept of medical ethics in association with Islam through critically examining different perceptions and academic approaches developed to define the subject. The course reflects main traditional and contemporary Muslim ethical schools of thought in addressing various medical issues. Special emphasis will be given to the significance of conducting empirical research about the theological definitions of medical concepts and their relations with the policy and practice of ethics in various health settings in Muslim world and across the Muslim collectivities in the ‘west’. This will address issues such as research with human subjects, genetics, abortion, organ transplantation, drugs, cosmetic surgery, transsexualism, death and dying, reproduction, stem cell research or therapy, and cloning. For doing so, interdisciplinary methodological approaches of philosophy and sociology will be highlighted.
Legal Ethics & Islam
The course introduces the concept of legal ethics in association with Islam through critically examining different perceptions and academic approaches developed to define the subject. The course explores the main contemporary schools of thought in the fields of jurisprudence in parallel with legal thoughts in Islamic tradition. Considerations will be paid to the main sociological and philosophical views of jurisprudence such as: classical English positivism, Dworkin’s interpretivism, critical legal studies, and the meanings of ‘law’ and ‘jurisprudence’. However, in addition to the sociological perspectives, such as Weber’s discussion of relationships between capitalism and law, Habermas’ theory of the centrality of law and Bourdieu’s notion of habitus, special attention will be given to the natural law as well as post- modernism in parallel with realism. Moreover, the significance of conducting both library-based and empirical research about the theological and philosophical foundations that inform medical and environmental policies and laws in Muslim countries will be highlighted. Also, attention will be given to the policies and laws that shape and affect Islamic ethics and practice of medicine and/or environment within the ‘western’ context.
Postgraduate Research Methods
This course addresses various methods in the humanitites and social sciences (e.g. analytical, compartive, historical and social) it introduces an in-depth critical analysis of contemporary research methods. Students engage with qualitative and quantitative methodologies in historical, textual, and anthropological (ethnographic) and social scientific disciplines. Students will also reflect on the different methodologies and select appropriate approaches for their own research.