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Islam in Contemporary Britain (MA / Diploma)

Course Aims

This programme aims to provide students with an understanding of the history and development of Muslim communities in the UK, and the social science training and skills to undertake original qualitative research with and about Muslims in Britain.

Course Description

Teacher with student

This programme provides an all-round training in qualitative research methods in relation to Muslim communities in Britain. It consists of 6 compulsory modules and a dissertation module for MA students.

The compulsory modules are framed within Part 1 of the course and comprise:

  • Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study (20 credits)
  • Qualitative Research Methods (20 credits)
  • Foundations of Social Science Research (20 credits)
  • History and Development of Muslim Communities in Britain  (20 credits)
  • Contemporary Debates (20 credits)
  • Muslims in Britain Today (20 credits)

Part 2 (MA students only) consists of a dissertation (16,000-20,000 words) which can be undertaken on a topic of the student’s choice, during June-September.


Available Modules

History and Development of Muslim Communities in Britain. This module covers the following topics and themes:

  • A History of Islam and Muslims in Britain to 1900
  • A History of Islam and Muslims in Britain from 1900-1945
  • Migration and settlement of Muslims from 1945
  • Muslims and the Census
  • A History of Muslims in Wales
  • South Asian Muslim reform movements
  • Middle Eastern Muslim reform movements
  • Qualitative Research with Muslim communities in Britain
  • Researching British Muslims: design issues and challenges
  • Conducting Sensitive Research with British Muslims

Contemporary Debates, covers the following topics and themes:

  • Theoretical Issues 1
  • Theoretical Issues 2
  • Muslims and the Media
  • Mosques
  • Religious leadership

Muslims in Britain Today. The following topics and themes are covered in this module:

  • Social Policy
  • Politics and PREVENT
  • Islamophobia
  • Law
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Marriage and the family
  • Chaplaincy
  • Inter-faith relations

Special Features

  • Provides an in-depth understanding of the theoretical and conceptual vocabulary surrounding British Islam.
  • Develops the skills required to undertake high quality research on Islam in Britain, according to codes of professional ethics in the social sciences.
  • Provides a recognised qualification indicating competence to work in a professional capacity with British Muslims.
  • Students are provided with opportunities to engage in placements/volunteering with local Muslim organisations
  • Students on the MA/PG Dip Islam in Contemporary Britain are encouraged to attend and contribute to the annual ‘Islam-UK Centre Public Lecture Series’ in the Spring Semester.  Examples of these can be viewed via YouTube:

Skills Acquired

  • An ability to exercise independent judgement on a topic to support an evidence-based argument.
  • Data generation strategies; such as  participant observation, qualitative interviewing, focus groups, working with documents
  • Analytical approaches; such as coding and categorizing, conversation and discourse analysis, narrative approaches

Career Prospects

The course offers a wide range of possible career opportunities. It is a highly suitable programme for those who are looking for careers in academic research, the public sector (such as local authorities), the race and community relations industry, inter-faith work, community development and the voluntary sector.


Anisa Ather, studying in 2012-13

Students working together

“Prior to joining Cardiff’s Islam-UK centre, I undertook a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing at Birmingham University.  I have lived in many cities, but by far the most welcoming is Cardiff! The best thing about the MA course is the friendly and close-knit network of students and scholars in the department. Each person brings something unique to the course through their research interest”


Yunus Ali, studying in 2012-13

“The MA students at Cardiff are presented with a unique opportunity to explore, analyse and gain an in-depth understanding of past and present issues facing Muslim communities in Britain. This has been a fascinating and enriching experience as the course complements and builds upon the knowledge that I acquired during my undergraduate degree in Religion and Education from the University of Huddersfield”.

Entry Requirements

1st or upper 2nd class UK Honours degree in an appropriate subject.

The course is suitable for graduates in a wide variety of Humanities disciplines and Social Sciences and those with an interest in understanding Islam in Britain, past, present and future. This programme is also helpful for people who work with, or for, the Muslim community, and those who are keen to develop a research/academic career in this exciting new field.

Students whose first language is not English will be required to pass an IELTS test (minimum 6.5) or equivalent.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Other Criteria

Students are encouraged to undertake voluntary work with Muslim communities in Cardiff, and are supported in doing so.  This might include activities such as assisting with homework clubs run via local mosques, or contributing to the Muslim Council of Wales ‘iLead’ programme which aims to support young Muslims developing leadership skills.

Contact Information

Prof Sophie Gilliat-Ray

Position:Professor in Religious and Theological Studies, Director for the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK (Islam-UK)
Photo of Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray
Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 70121Extension: 70121

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