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Module VPR-1109:
Introduction to Islam

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Farhaan Wali

Overall aims and purpose

This module will provide a broad overview of the historical and religious configuration of Islam together with comprehensive analysis of Islamic beliefs and practices. The module will commence with an inspection of early Islamic history, society and philosophy, covering the life and career of Prophet Mohammad, and the Qur’an and Sunnah as the main sources of Islamic theology, as well as selected issues of Islamic law and philosophy. The module will also seek to introduce broader understandings and interpretations of the diverse nature of Islamic faith, namely the development of the Shi’a sect. It will explore the nature of the devotionalist attitude that centred on the figure of Ali, and its implications for the religious as well as the philosophical views of successive shi'a communities. In sum, the module aims to encourage students to gain understanding of a broader range of issues relating to the study of Islam, looking both at the religion of Islam and also Muslims in particular social and historical contexts.

Course content

Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion, yet for most people its beliefs and practice remain obscure despite having close religious connection with Judaism and Christianity. For this reason, this module has been designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to Islamic faith, philosophy and practice. The module will introduce students to the study of Islamic theology by exploring the emergence and development of Islam, from its origins in the seventh century to its modern revival. Therefore, the module will guide students through the following aspects of the study of Islam: (1) Introduce students to the history and development of early and modern Islam (against the background of social and cultural contexts); (2) Examine core Islamic beliefs and practices; and (3) Investigate the wider Islamic tradition by surveying Islamic law, philosophy and mysticism.

Assessment Criteria


Shows detailed knowledge of key areas covered in the module with the arguments presented in a logical and coherent way.


Shows some knowledge of key areas of the module with acceptable presentation of arguments.


Shows comprehensive and very detailed understanding of the material covered in the module, based on extensive background reading.

Learning outcomes

  1. To demonstrate understanding of Islamic philosophy, as well as an understanding of the key issues facing contemporary Muslims

  2. To show understanding of how Islam as a faith relates to wider social, cultural and political contexts

  3. To demonstrate understanding of the Islamic faith and practice, as well as an understanding of the main approaches and methodologies in the study of the Islamic religion

  4. To demonstrate an understanding of the development of the historical and conceptual importance of the Islamic core sources: namely the Qur’an and Hadith and the function they play in the synthesis of Islamic belief and practice

  5. To be aware of the heterogeneous nature of Islamic faith and to be aware of the historical, sectarian and cultural differences between Muslims

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 70
Student presentation - Group/individual 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 176
Lecture 24

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Articulacy in identifying underlying issues in a wide variety of debates.
  • Sensitivity in interpretation of religious and philosophical texts drawn from a variety of ages and/or traditions.
  • Clarity and rigour in the critical assessment of arguments presented in such texts.
  • The ability to use and criticise specialised religious and philosophical terminology.
  • The ability to abstract and analyse arguments, and to identify flaws in them, such as false premises and invalid reasoning.
  • The ability to construct rationally persuasive arguments for or against specific religious and philosophical claims.
  • The ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, inventing or discovering examples to support or challenge a position, and distinguishing relevant and irrelevant considerations.
  • The ability to consider unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking, and to examine critically presuppositions and methods within the disciplines of philosophy and religion.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: