Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. It is embraced by approximately one-fifth of the world’s population.

The Islamic Studies program provides you with the opportunity to study the development of Islamic thought and Muslim societies from a broad multidisciplinary perspective. It addresses the issues relevant to the development of Islam as a religion and civilisation from its origins to the present.


  • Communications
  • Community development
  • Diplomacy
  • Government
  • International relations
  • Policy development

Subjects you could take in this major

  • This subject introduces students to Islam and its adherents within contemporary global dynamics. It examines the thought of key Muslim intellectuals from the 19th Century till present and their attempts to come to terms with modernity as a Western project, while addressing critical issues facing Islam. Areas for consideration include: renewal and reform. the impact of colonialism and globalisation on Muslim discourse. independent judgment (ijtihad) versus emulation (taqlid). and issues associated with civil society. Students will also explore the challenge of shaping a Muslim identity in the modern world, in the context of key Muslim institutions and social movements.

  • This is an introductory subject that exposes students to the basic and fundamental beliefs and practices that constitute the fabric of the Islamic world. Students will be able to explore relationships and differences between the key teachings of Islam and the customary practices of Muslims. In doing so, students will study both unity and diversity in various regions of the Muslim world. Historical and anthropological approaches to studying a number of key institutions and discourses in Muslim societies will also be introduced.

  • This subject will examine the interplay of external and internal factors in inflaming conflict and tension in the Middle East, dubbed the 'crisis zone’. It will cover the role of foreign powers in a number of case studies: the Arab/Israeli conflict. Iran-Iraq war. the Gulf War of 1990-1991, the war on Terror, the Arab Uprisings and the rise of the Islamic Sate. These case studies will illustrate the difficulties in separating ‘national’ from ‘international politics’ and provide a nuanced appreciation of international relations in this vital region.

  • This subject provides students with an understanding of global, regional and local news media production and representations of Islam and Muslim societies. It discusses new, emerging and alternative forms of media discourses of conflict in the Muslim world, and analyses selected news reports as forms of case studies. Taking the notion of ‘.Orientalism’. as its starting point, the subject/unit critically examines the extent to which the mediatisation of conflict impacts relations between Islam and the West vis-a-vis debates on Orientalism, 'Asian values' and Islamic world views.

  • This subject/unit introduces students to Islamic legal theory, its sources and principles, and how they are applied by different schools and scholars to derive religious verdicts. Students will study efforts to ‘.streamline’. Islamic law through a number of Sunni and Shia schools, various conceptions of shari’.ah, and modern attempts at law reform through scholarship and ijtihad (independent judgment). Upon completion, students should be able to explain developments in Islamic legal thought within their socio-historical contexts, and identify key debates among Muslim scholars. Using current case studies, students will also study Islamic law issues affecting Muslims today, especially Muslim minorities.

  • This subject will examine the Israeli-Palestinian narrative through a multi-disciplinary perspective that will explore the political, social, historical and cultural issues central to this long and intense conflict. The subject will provide a clear chronological and textual foundation for examining the conflict’s origins, evolution, ramifications, as well as the quest for peace. Also examined will be Palestinian and Israeli society in the 20th Century with a focus on the rise and development of Palestinian and Israeli nationalism, including intertwined themes of identity, collective memory, trauma and loss-- themes that bind Palestinians and Israelis together. This interdisciplinary subject will assess the causes and effects of the wars in the region, the involvement of external powers, the negotiations and agreements between Israel and the PLO, the impact of the conflict on the lives of the two nations, the issue of settlements within the framework of international law, the phenomenon of terrorism and counter-terrorism and the status of Jerusalem and its holy sites. Evaluating the prospects of resolution, the subject will probe contemporary instances of interfaith dialogue and programs that call for peaceful coexistence. The course will utilise primary and secondary sources, including film and literature.

  • In this subject the students explore the Sufi Way as the spiritual dimension of Islam, its roots and philosophical meaning, and the factors which led to its emergence, its seeming conflict and reconciliation with the views of the Orthodox scholars, its socio-political dimensions as a popular religious trend, and such Sufi practices as chanting, meditation and dance-like rituals. It also explores the various Sufi brotherhoods, and analyses the relevance of the Sufi dimension of Islam to contemporary society.

  • This subject examines the growth of Islamic civilisation in the period between the revelation of the Quran and the Spanish Christian reconquest of Granada in 1492. The study focuses on the Arabic speaking areas of western Asia, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, and its aim is to understand the conditions in which religiously founded dynastic states appeared, the relationships between religion, power, culture and economy, and the role of ethnicity and language in the creation of political and cultural communities. On completion of the subject students should be familiar with the theories about the causes of the rise and fall of the Islamic states and understand the role of religion in integrating and disintegrating multi-ethnic states.

  • This subject is an introduction, in English translation, to the most important text of Islam, the Qur'an, which Muslims regard as the primary source of Islam. Students will study: the origins of the Qur'an, its overall structure and content, major themes, approaches to its interpretation, and its function in Muslim religious, social, cultural and political life. The themes and topics covered (such as God, ethics, women, state, inter-faith relations, violence) should assist students in understanding contemporary debates on the relevance of Islam today.

  • The subject explores the wide variety of Asian religious traditions, from examples of indigenous and folk traditions to analyses of the major world religions originating from Asia. Attention is given to Asian religion’s cosmologies and philosophy of life, their role as a normative foundation of culture and society, and their relevance to politics. Asian religion’s growing popularity in the West will be considered together with the growing influence of Islam and Christianity in Asia, charting historical processes of interaction between civilisations and the contemporary rise of global religions and identities.

  • This subject introduces students to the rich heritage of ethical traditions in Islamic thought. Students will study and critically evaluate the key features and contributions of Muslim theologians, philosophers and Sufis, who attempted to deal with revelation and rationalistic discourse in exploring the meaning of ethical life for Muslims and discussing whether philosophy and religious wisdoms were equals and allies in the pursuit of happiness. The origin and development of these traditions will be introduced with an emphasis on the relevance and application of some ethical issues, such as free will, predestination, human responsibility, and bioethics, to contemporary Muslim societies.

  • This subject/unit explores the history of cultural and intellectual relations between Islam and Europe during the medieval and early modern era. It provides students with insight and understanding of how the circulation of knowledge, ideas and artistry influenced the evolution of European and Islamic cultures. Particular attention is paid to the origins and evolution of Islamic science and its influence in European intellectual circles.

  • This subject examines Islam in the West past and present. It explores how Muslims interpret and practice Islam in a culture that is secular and somewhat alien to the culture of Muslim majority countries. Students will study how Muslims in the West negotiate their beliefs on Islam, particularly within the theological and ethico-legal spheres. Part of the subject involves a case study of Muslims in Australia, which will include visits to some local Muslim institutions and interaction with Muslim communities. Students will undertake a small scale research project on Islam and Muslims in the West and present the results in writing.

  • This subject is a historical survey of the major events, movements and relationships underlying the making of the modern Islamic and Arab Middle East since the end of the First World War. The subject enables students to understand: the interplay of religion and foreign rule and intervention in shaping the politics and society of the modern Middle East; the development of the different states of the region; the differences between local points of view and those of outside commentators, historians and rulers; and the effects of these changes on the wider population of the various countries.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

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Bachelor of Arts&Bachelor of Arts Extended