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Gender and Sexuality: Islamic Perspectives - 20 credits (RT1345)

Module Tutor: Dr Saira Malik

Summary of course content

Islam is the second largest world religion after Christianity, and Muslims form the second largest religious group in Britain after Christians.  In recent years, Islam has had an increasing profile in the media and in its political impact.  A range of popular, stereotypical images come to mind when considering Islam in its contemporary setting: persecution of women and gays, Britain being over-run by ‘sharia’ courts.  This module aims to look at how the Islamic tradition has developed from its inception in early seventh century Arabic to becoming a ‘mature’ entity by the seventeenth century by tracing two principal themes: gender and sexuality through the lens of the sharia.

Credits: 20

Availability of module: Every year

Prerequisites: None

Necessary for: N/A


  1. To demonstrate the diversity and complexity of ideas/forces which have shaped the maturation of the Islamic tradition.  We shall do this by analysing how gender and sexuality have been conceived within the paradigm of the sharia
  2. To analyse ‘tradition’ as a conceptual category and to understand how it applies to the themes of law, gender and sexuality from an Islamic perspective.

Learning outcomes

On completing this module, you should be able to:


  1. Describe and analyse how gender and homosexuality have been conceived and negotiated in pre-modern Muslim societies
  2. Apply and evaluate theory on ‘tradition’ to the pre-modern Islamic tradition


  1. Describe, synthesize and analyse information from a range of multi-disciplinary primary and secondary sources
  2. Evaluate and critically assess a range of arguments
  3. Apply theoretical concepts to particular cases
  4. Produce work that is clearly written and which develops evidence-based arguments within a set time-frame
  5. Present a piece of scholarly work to peers in a 15-minute presentation prepared in advance

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars


2 summative essays (2x50%) and group presentation(s) (formative)

Suggested book purchases

Mulitiple copies of set texts in the library

Suggested preparatory reading

Bulliet, R. W., Conversion to Islam in the medieval period, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979
Hourani, A., A history of the Arab peoples, London: Faber and Faber, 2005
Rippin, A., Muslims: their religious beliefs and practices, London: Routledge, 2012
Waines, D., An introduction to Islam, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003 (second edition)