There are four key areas in which you will develop: 


  • A civilisational understanding of Islam. Demonstrate a systematic advanced understanding and knowledge of Islam from a civilisational perspective. 
  • Critical awareness of key debates and thinkers. Demonstrate systematic knowledge and critical awareness of the key debates and thinkers (historical and contemporary) in the field of Islamic studies. 
  • Critical awareness of challenges in context. Demonstrate a critical awareness of challenges facing contemporary Muslim societies in their diverse historical, political and socio-economic contexts. 
  • Understanding methods. Demonstrate a systematic and comprehensive understanding of contemporary methodologies for the study of Islam in lived contexts.

Thinking skills 

  • Making critical sense of materials. Critically assess data and evidence from primary and secondary sources, and solve conflicts of facts and interpretations commensurably with the level expected of master’s graduates. 
  • Understanding materials critically. Employ critical and at times original approaches and question established knowledge on the basis of reasoned interpretations of sources and evidence. 
  • Integrating materials. Integrate findings from multiple sources in order to demonstrate and advance a critical understanding of topics under discussion. 
  • Making and reflecting on conclusions. Make reasonable and substantiated conclusions independently in the light of research undertaken and evidence reviewed, and reflect on the implications of those and potential future directions.

Subject-based practical skills 

  • Finding materials. Locate relevant materials and gather research data and/or evidence responsibly and ethically for the purpose of exploring and understanding a topic and/or preparing for assessment. 
  • Interpreting materials. Summarise viewpoints and arguments from various sources of data and/or evidence, synthesising those where appropriate. 
  • Integrating interpretive approaches. Integrate skills and/or approaches from different disciplinary areas for the purpose of exploring and understanding a topic/subject area in comprehensive and, where possible, original ways. 
  • Self-assessment and refining work produced. Judging the merit of own work for the purpose of assessing its validity and appropriacy with regard to the subject matter, discipline and task at hand. 

Transferable skills 

  • Communication. Communicate knowledgeably and critically in writing and speaking for the purpose of disseminating and contributing to the production of knowledge and to enable active participation in events such as seminars, conferences, and symposia where current subject knowledge and approaches are being disseminated and debated. 
  • Working independently. Demonstrate skills of research (finding and working with materials) and managing one’s own learning in the service of working independently and responsibly. 
  • Working with others. Work with others for the purpose of gathering and interpreting information, showing due regard for ethical considerations. 

Students conduct a field research project of their own, leading to a 10,000-word dissertation as the culmination of the initial two-year MA at the IIS. A grant is provided for fieldwork travel during the summer of the second year*, in order to give students the opportunity to carry out original empirical research that can serve as a basis for further postgraduate study or career development. 

  • A Research Supervisor is allocated to each student, to guide them in planning, preparing, conducting and writing up the dissertation.
  • A year-long module in Research Design and Methods provides students with the tools to plan and conduct an empirical study.
  • During this preparatory module, students will submit a project proposal for their field research, and approved projects will receive modest funding to contribute to the cost of travel to and from the place of research and other project-related expenses. 

* All study abroad components are subject to travel advice by the UK Government and students obtaining the necessary visas. In the event a student cannot travel, alternative study arrangements will be made in the UK. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the field research component may need to be converted into desk-based research if fieldwork is no longer feasible. 

Students are taken on a field trip to Spain in Year 2.

The trip is focused on visits to Muslim architectural monuments of Andalusia. The field trip also allows the students to witness the contemporary use of these architectural sites, developing their visual literacy and contributing to learning about the formation of political and religious identity as well as art and architecture. With the help of an academic lead, the field trip brings to life places students have read about. Sites visited include:

  • The Great Mosque of Cordoba, which is the only surviving monument of the Caliphate of Cordoba;
  • Madinat-al-Zahra Museum, which was awarded an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010; 
  • The magnificent palaces, fountains and gardens of Alhambra, which exemplify the blending of Moorish and traditional Andalusian architecture. 

The Spain field trip is subject to UK Government travel advice and students obtaining the necessary visas. In the event a student cannot travel, alternative study arrangements will be made in the UK. 

GPISH prepares graduates to pursue a PhD in Islamic studies and related areas of the humanities and social sciences, or to seek careers beyond academia that aim to address issues faced by contemporary Muslim societies.

Leadership Workshop and Careers Seminars

A Leadership Workshop, held at the start of Year 2, helps students begin to integrate academic learning with the development of leadership skills congruent with today’s globalised and highly mobile workforce.

  • The workshop introduces both theoretical frameworks and practical leadership skills for communicating, influencing and motivating across cultures, managing change and deepening individual impact within society.
  • It is followed by a series of Careers Seminars with guest speakers arranged in line with the students’ interests and aspirations.

Postgraduate Research Fellowship (PGRF) 

This fellowship is available to applicants interested in working with Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Boards (ITREBs) after completing their GPISH studies. Based on their HR needs, ITREBs may sponsor students to undertake the PGRF training, which aims to help GPISH graduates acquire specific knowledge, analytical tools and skills to contribute more effectively to the needs of the Jamat and ITREBs.

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PhD Scholarships 

For those students who are interested in deepening their analysis and contributing intellectually to the academic world, as well as to the Institute and the Ismaili community, the IIS offers a limited number of scholarships to pursue studies at doctoral level.

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