The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) was established in 1977 with the objective of promoting scholarship and learning on Muslim cultures and societies, historical as well as contemporary, and encouraging a better understanding of their relationship with other societies and faiths.

The Institute's founding aim was defined by a basic and continuing re-assessment of existing scholarly endeavours in this field. As part of this aim, the Institute seeks to draw on the most effective tools developed, over at least the past century, in modern academic scholarship on Islam. Simultaneously, in actively seeking to bring the fruits of such scholarship to bear on the conditions and aspirations of Muslim societies today (including, in particular, present-day Ismaili communities), the Institute's programmes reflect an additional, normative purposiveness, though one wholly open and attuned to the principles of objective inquiry and research, which are essential to a modern academic institution.