Teaching practice is central to the programme’s approach to teacher development and provides the students with an opportunity to develop their teaching and reflective skills within the classroom. All students are provided with invaluable support from Professional Learning Community (PLC) facilitators and experienced mentors. A STEP student must complete the Teaching Practice components before they are recognised as a STEP teacher. 

The teaching practice consists of several components:

  • Comprehensive, practical, field-based school/teaching experiences in mainstream schools in or near London and at Religious Education Centres (RECs) in the United Kingdom; 
  • Teaching practice in the Ismaili Religious Education Centres in participants’ own home contexts; 
  • Lesson planning tutoring and field mentoring, through the platform of PLCs; 
  • Portfolio of Work.


Every student is allocated a mainstream school placement in London or the surrounding regions, where they have the opportunity to observe and deliver lessons in a number of mainly humanities-based subject areas. Mainstream school placements are one of the main ways students can gain insight into the reality of working with young people in a classroom setting. They will experience up to 80 days of teaching practice during their time at the IIS. 


Students will have access to a school-based mentor who provides professional guidance and support in the development of their teaching practices. Throughout the teaching experience in mainstream schools and RECs, students are supported with formative observations and feedback on their teaching.  


During the programme, students compile a Portfolio of Work to demonstrate their progress as teachers and reflective practitioners. The Portfolio will be a professional record of their teaching experience at a mainstream school, an Ismaili REC in the UK or Europe, and in their home context. 

The Portfolio will allow participants to consolidate their MA and PGDip experiences and their integration with classroom practices, as well as provide a basis for writing their summative assignments and sustain their continued professional development. 

There are further elements of STEP which are not part of the accredited modules for the MA and PGDip but an important and mandatory element of the programme in terms of preparing participants to return to their home countries and take up their posts as STEP teachers. 

  • Teaching and Learning: Occasional Teaching and Learning sessions delivered at the IIS complement and further enhance Teaching and Learning provision, gained through PGDip at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), in order to engage in the exercise of secondary classroom delivery in RECs. 
  • Research Methods: Research study for the MA is desk-based (or, secondary research), which involves identifying and carrying out a systematic review, evaluation and analysis of existing secondary source material and data sets. It entails a systematic investigation by students of an approved topic of their choice, and is aimed at developing a student’s expertise in a specific field as related to the broader aims of the IIS’ Secondary Curriculum. Engagement with the design, application and evaluation of the research study will equip students with core proficiencies to support ongoing professional development. Students will be exposed to a range of sessions to help them develop key practical and analytical skills and approaches required for writing a professional-level research paper, including: selecting a topic and formulating a specific research question; identifying and carrying out a systematic review of secondary source material; analyses and synthesis of data sets; and presenting results in a written form according to highest academic standards. 

During the final term of the second year of study, all graduating students will receive sessions aimed to support their transition from full-time students to full time STEP teachers.

  • It considers the roles and responsibilities, anxieties and expectations of a newly qualified teacher and how they might differ to that of an experienced teacher. Using the experiences of experienced STEP teachers from the field, students will learn about the day to day realities of teaching as well as working within the context of an ITREB structure.
  • The sessions also discuss the wider mandate of ITREB and how that corresponds to the work of the IIS. In doing so, it articulates the mandate and philosophy of STEP and how it seeks to add value to the formation of the Ismaili Community.
  • Students will also be given an insight into the nature of the collaboration between the IIS and ITREB, and how they will continue to be supported by both institutions after their graduation. 

The IIS Secondary Curriculum adopts an approach to the study of Islam based on humanistic, civilisational and normative perspectives. It seeks to acquaint secondary students with the diverse and dynamic interplay of Islamic expressions – religious, social, cultural and material –that have become manifest in Muslim societies of the past and present. 

  • The curriculum uses an interdisciplinary study of Muslim societies and civilisations, drawing on a range of subjects including social sciences and the humanities. Religion is not approached as a detached and compartmentalised phenomenon in history and society, but rather in terms of its multifaceted connections with various forms of human experience. The curriculum encourages students to analyse contemporary situations and reflect on the social and ethical challenges of an increasingly plural world. 
  • The curriculum applies pedagogical approaches in harmony with its philosophical framework.
  • It calls for a profile of teachers with a broad set of proficiencies that reflects acquaintance with a range of contexts.
  • These pedagogical approaches invite the active engagement of teachers and students with the content of the curriculum, engendering thought and enquiry on Islam generally and the Ismaili tradition specifically as they have developed historically and in contemporary times. 

As part of the MA, students will experience an exploratory field trip to Andalusia (Spain) in the first year.

Through this trip, students witness the contemporary use of sites of historical relevance, as well as the possibility to learn about structures in terms of secular and religious form and function.

This experiences provide students with a unique perspective in their approach to the delivery of the IIS’ Secondary Curriculum, in which the study of Muslim societies and civilisations is a crucial element. 

Readings, orientation sessions and reflection will help students to evaluate and structure their experiences in a pedagogically informed manner and will gain a critical insight into the ways in which deep historical heritage relates to the formulation or construction of peoples' identities and practices. 

This trip facilitates a deeper understanding of curricula content and the collection of relevant resources to teach it. It provides a holistic understanding of some of the historical content related to Muslim societies and civilisations that students will eventually bring to life in the classrooms.

Visits during this trip usually 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.

All study abroad components are subject to travel advice by the 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.