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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:05

Course Overview

Taking a historical approach, the course will trace the key events that have led to current Political Islam (Islamism) concentrating on the ideology and practice of various movements and groups.  It will explore contemporary constructs of identity and political arrangements within Islamism and encourage critical analysis and independent thought in relation to the challenges Islamist poses to existing theoretical paradigms.  Areas to be explored will include: the political construct of early Islam, the Sunni/Shia divide, key ideologues, and contemporary movements such as the Muslim Brothers, Hamas and Hizbullah.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Samantha Jane May

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Either International Relations (IR) (Studied) or Politics (PI) (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Course Aims: in-depth knowledge of key concepts in Islamist ideology and practice. To enhance critical reflection on the historical development of Political Islam and to explore contemporary constructs of identity and political arrangements within Islamism. To identify the influences from, and resistances to, wider international developments on Islamism and to encourage a breadth of critical analysis of theories of political Islam.
Main Learning Outcomes: students will gain a broad understanding of the historical development of political Islam, will learn about the relation between Islamist ideology and practice. Students will gain skills in critical analysis and independent thought in relation to the challenges Islamist poses to existing theoretical paradigms.
Content: this course will explore in depth the diversity and nuances of political Islam (Islamism). Adopting a historical and contextual approach the course will outline the relevant aspects of Islam's early political formations in order to contrast Islamism with the historic development of the system of Westphalia. Key Islamist ideologues will be examined focusing in particular on the differences between reformism and revivalism and the Sunni/Shi divide exemplified in the case of the Iranian Revolution. Contemporary Islamism will be explored identifying the challenges posed to existing theoretical frameworks particularly in terms of territorial understandings, sovereignty and the construction of identities. The later section of the course will pay particular attention to the soft power of Islamism and the concept of welfare as resistance as a sub-altern strategy.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Tutorial during University weeks 26 - 35, 39 - 41

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Alternative Assessment

Online exam (1 week to complete) 40%

One essay 3,000 words 40%

One "recorded" Team Presentation 20%

Alternative Resit Assessment

Extended essay 4,000 Words


Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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