What will I study?
Study subjects that range from Islam in the Modern World and Islam, Media and Conflict, through to Sufism: The Spiritual Dimension of Islam and The First Centuries of Islam.
Your course structure
The Bachelor of Arts requires the successful completion of 24 subjects (300-points), including at least one major. Most students study eight subjects each year (usually four subjects in each semester) for three years full-time, or the part-time equivalent.
Most Arts majors require 100 points of study (usually eight subjects) for attainment. This means out of your 300-point program, you have the opportunity to achieve two majors in your course.
COMPLETING YOUR MAJOR
If you are taking Islamic Studies as a major, you must complete:
- One level 1 subject AND one Arts Foundation subject
- One level 2 compulsory subject plus 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 2 elective subjects
- 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 3 elective subjects and
- One level 3 Capstone subject
Note: The capstone is compulsory for students completing a major in Islamic Studies. The capstone is not available to students completing a minor or breadth studies.
If you are taking Islamic Studies as a minor, you must complete:
- One level 1 subject AND one Arts Foundation subject
- One level 2 compulsory subject plus 12.5 points (usually one subject) level two elective
- 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 3 elective subjects
Breadth is a unique feature of the Melbourne Model. It gives you the chance to explore subjects outside of arts, developing new perspectives and learning to collaborate with others who have different strengths and interests — just as you will in your future career.
Some of our students use breadth to explore creative interests or topics they have always been curious about. Others used breadth to improve their career prospects by complementing their major with a language, communication skills or business expertise.
Fatih Oguzhan is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring inIslamic Studies and Criminology.
Many people are unaware of how diverse and complex Islamic history is. I chose this major because I thought it was important to be educated about Islam, share knowledge with others, especially in a society where Islam is often immediately associated with violence. As a Muslim, studying Islamic Studies from an academic perspective has made me realise how little I knew about my faith.
Through-out my undergraduate course, I have read widely on different approaches to interpreting the Qur’an, each of which offers new ways of making a seventh-century text remain relevant in the 21st century.
Media discourse tends to use very problematic terms such as ‘Jihadi’ or ‘fundamentalist’, without understanding the subtle differences between them. Forming your own ideas and ensuring that you do not simply accept everything at face value has been a key part of the course.
Last year, I wrote an essay on how a small group of scholars aim to reconcile non-heterosexuality with Islam. This exposed me to very interesting ideas and approaches in interpreting verses relating to the narrative of Lot/Lut.
I also had the privilege to study on exchange at King’s College London for six months, where I had completed four modules for my degree. I really cherish the time I spent there.
I am interested in modern Qur’anic hermeneutics, and how new methodologies can offer a way to read, understand, and apply the text in the 21st century. I am also interested in the esoteric dimension of Islam (Sufism) and the rich intellectual history/heritage of Islam. My long-term goal and dream career is to become an academic tutor in Islamic Studies at the Asia Institute of the University of Melbourne, teaching students subjects I once studied, such as Understanding Islam and Muslim Societies or Introduction to Islamic Spirituality.
Explore this major
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this major.
- Identity12.5 pts
Who we are and what we do is all tangled up in our identity. This subject considers how identities are constructed and maintained through mediated processes of self and other. The subject investigates the myriad demands and devices that figure in constructing our senses of self and other (including language, leisure, beliefs and embodied practices). By exploring identity in diverse contexts, across time and place, the subject maps varying conceptions of self and other and how these conceptions are constructed and maintained. A key focus is on how these mediated conceptions of self and other are translated into material practices of inclusion, exclusion, discrimination, violence and criminalisation.
- Language12.5 pts
Language plays a central role in the central disciplinary areas in the humanities and social sciences. This subject gives students tools for thinking about language in a range of disciplines, including linguistics, history, sociology, politics, literary studies, anthropology, language studies, psychology and psychoanalytic theory. It shows how language can be analysed as a system, but also how language features centrally in politcal and social contexts: for example, in the processing of the claims of asylum seekers, in developing views of ethnicity, race and nation, and in colonialism; and in the construction of gendered and sexual identity. The role of language in the psyche, and the process of acquisition of languages in children and in adults, are also important topics. Knowing how to think about language, and familiarity with the main thinkers who have discussed language in a range of humanities and social science disciplines, provide an indispensable basis for study in any area of the Arts degree.
- Power12.5 pts
The idea of power is a way to grasp the character of social relations. Investigating power can tell us about who is in control and who may benefit from such arrangements. Power can be a zero-sum game of domination. It can also be about people acting together to enact freedom. This subject examines the diverse and subtle ways power may be exercised. It considers how power operates in different domains such as markets, political systems and other social contexts. It also examines how power may be moderated by such things as regulation and human rights. A key aim is to explore how differing perspectives portray power relations and how issues of power distribution may be characterised and addressed.
- Reason12.5 pts
Reason, many believe, is what makes us human. Until recently, most scientists and philosophers agreed that the ability to use the mind to analyse and interpret the world is something intrinsic to the nature of our species. Reason has a long and extraordinary history. We will explore a number of inter-related themes: the nature of reason from Ancient Greece to our contemporary world; the ever shifting relationship between reason and faith; reason's place in the development of scientific experimentation and thinking; shifting perspectives about the uses of Reason and, finally, how reason relates to theories of the mind, exploring the tensions between reason, the passions and the will.
Reason will take you on a journey from Plato's cave to the neuro-scientists' lab. We will visit revolutions in science, thinking and politics. We will explore the impact of some of the great philosophers of history, including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Bentham, Coleridge, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault and many more besides. By the end of this subject you will have a deep understanding of the importance of the idea of reason to human history and philosophy. You might, even, be able to answer the question: 'does reason exist?'
Reason is an Arts Foundation Subject and we will argue that understanding the history and philosophy of reason provides great insights into many aspects of the humanities from political philosophy to understanding history. We will, of course, be paying particular attention to the foundational skills that will help you successfully complete your Arts major: particularly critical thinking and argument development.
- First Peoples in a Global Context12.5 pts
This subject will provide students with an introduction to the complexity, challenges and richness of Australian Indigenous life and cultures. Drawing on a wide range of diverse and dynamic guest lecturers, this subject gives students an opportunity to encounter Australian Indigenous knowledges, histories and experiences through interdisciplinary perspectives. Across three thematic blocks - Indigenous Knowledges, Social and Political Contexts and Representation/Self-Representation - this subject engages contemporary cultural and intellectual debate. Social and political contexts will be considered through engagement with specific issues and a focus on Indigenous cultural forms, which may include literature, music, fine arts, museum exhibitions and performance, will allow students to consider self-representation as a means by which to disrupt and expand perceptions of Aboriginality.
- Representation12.5 pts
Humans grapple with representations of themselves and their contexts. They also like to imagine other possible worlds. We use words, language, images, sounds and movement to construct narratives and stories, large and small, about the trivial and the profound, the past and the future. These representations can help us to understand worlds but they can also create worlds for us. This subject explores how different genres such as speech, writing, translation, film, theatre and art generate representations of social life, imagination and the human condition. A key aim of the subject is to develop a critical appreciation of how language, images and embodied gestures are used to construct empowering and disempowering discourses.
Islamic Studies subjects
- Understanding Islam and Muslim Societies12.5 pts
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.
- Islam in the Modern World12.5 pts
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.
- The Qur'an: An Introduction12.5 pts
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.
- Introduction to Islamic Spirituality12.5 pts
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.
- Israelis & Palestinians: Conflict, Peace12.5 pts
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.
- International Relations: Key Questions12.5 pts
This subject explores key questions in international relations, beginning with the basic questions of why the world is comprised of states and why they enjoy a monopoly on legitimate violence, and then expanding through a range of questions such as whether cultural identities are responsible for international conflict, whether the concept of ‘human rights’ is a remnant of colonialism, and who really controls the global economy. This subject provides an in-depth examination of the ideas and actors that have shaped world politics, and encourages a critical exploration of the politics behind current events in international relations, from environmental agreements to targeted killings by robot planes to indigenous land claims. Students will be encouraged to evaluate the theoretical assumptions and debates in international relations and how they influence global politics today.
- Crisis Zone: Middle Eastern Politics12.5 pts
This introductory subject will examine the interplay of external and internal factors in inflaming conflict and tension in the Middle East in the 20th century. It will cover the role of colonial powers, religion, gender politics and foreign actors in a number of case studies: the Arab/Israeli conflict, Iranian politics, US policy and the establishment of organizations such as HAMAS, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda.
This subject will provide a firm grounding in the political, historical and societal experiences that created the modern Middle East. These case studies will illustrate the difficulties in separating ‘national’ from ‘international politics’ and provide a nuanced appreciation of international relations in the Middle East.
- The First Centuries of Islam12.5 pts
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.
- Asian Religions in Societal Context12.5 pts
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.
- Ethical Traditions in Islam12.5 pts
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.
- The Modern Middle East12.5 pts
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.
- Crisis Zone: Age of Uprisings12.5 pts
This third-year subject examines the political dynamics of the modern Middle East, with a specific focus on the events known as the 'Arab Spring.' It will offer a brief synopsis of 20th century Middle Eastern history before exploring the War on Terror, the 2011 Arab uprisings and their aftermath, and contemporary political trends in non-Arab states such as Turkey and Iran. This subject will analyse the role of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces in the contemporary Middle East, and will examine critical issues such as sectarianism, gender politics, Islamism and the influence of external powers in the region. Crisis Zone: Age of Uprisings will provide students with a detailed framework for understanding the conflicts and challenges of the modern Middle East.
- Human Rights, Muslims and Islamic Law12.5 pts
The subject explores how a wide range of international human rights norms and values are conceptualised in classical and contemporary Islam and how Muslim thinkers of today are engaged in modern human rights discourses. The subject will consider the implications of conceptualizing human rights under sharia (Islamic law and norms) and international systems of human rights. Main themes covered are: the relationship of the sharia with modern international human rights law as well as with several of the controversial issues within human rights law; and compatibility of sharia with human rights values. A number of specific substantive issues, most notably the rights of women, children’s rights, and freedom of expression, freedom of religion and jihad and war will be studied in depth to illustrate the complexity of the contemporary debates on human rights and Islam.
- Contemporary Challenges and Islam12.5 pts
This is the capstone unit for the Islamic Studies major. It provides students with the opportunity to critically reflect upon the major through an engagement with key themes studied.
This is achieved through a detailed exploration of contemporary challenges and the Islamic world's responses. The subject is focused purely on the modern era, and offers students the opportunity to gain a detailed understanding of how contemporary scholars engage, analyse and interact with challenges from the theological, philosophical, political and ethical spheres. This subject has been designed to offer students a dynamic and thought-provoking conclusion to their Islamic Studies program.
Students will devise their own research topic and present the results in writing.