Arab and Islamic Studies

Degrees
  • MPhil/PhD Arab and Islamic Studies
  • MPhil/PhD Ethno-Political Studies
  • MPhil/PhD Kurdish Studies
  • MPhil/PhD Middle East Politics
  • MPhil/PhD Palestine Studies
Degree typesTypes of research degrees explained
DurationDegree duration details
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Study modesFull time and part time Study mode details
Start date September or January

Research overview

The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies is an Area Studies department grounded in multidisciplinary approaches to research and training. Within a purpose-built space, it brings together anthropologists, archaeologists, literary scholars, linguists, political scientists, historians, sociologists and scholars of religion. Researchers collaborate within the Institute, as well as within disciplinary networks at Exeter, alongside their contributions at national and international levels. We strongly believe that the presence of a variety of disciplines, along with geographic and temporal specialisms, within one building enriches the work we produce as a collective.

Staff and postgraduate research students are affiliated to one of our research centres, where they can share their research findings, participate in seminars, lectures and research projects.

Staff

Find out about the individual staff members in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, their research interests, publications and current projects in our staff profiles area.

Research centres

MPhil/PhD students work alongside researchers within the following research centres:

 

Centre for Gulf Studies

Founded in 1978, Exeter’s Centre for Gulf Studies is an inter-disciplinary team of international researchers in humanities and social sciences interested in all aspects of anthropology, sociology, modern and contemporary history, politics and international relations, political economy and material culture of the Arabian Peninsula. The Centre provides a world recognised environment for research, hosting PhD students, visiting researchers and externally funded projects. For a decade, it has been the fertile incubator of new critical Gulf Studies contributing to drastically reshape research on the region.

The Centre has been hosting the longest-running conference series on the Gulf region and Arabian Peninsula since 1979. One of the largest in the world, Exeter's Gulf Collection totals over 100,000 items on Yemen and the Gulf monarchies and is housed in the University's Arab World Documentation Unit.

In addition, our staff plays an active role in advising on the Gulf political and economic affairs and the preservation of cultural heritage

Centre for Kurdish Studies

Those interested in studying the MPhil/PhD Kurdish Studies will& work alongside researchers from the Centre for Kurdish Studies. Exeter is the only British university to have developed a strong research focus in the field of Kurdish Studies, with the two main Kurdish dialects being taught. As such, we are the leading centre of research in the field in the UK, and one of the global centres of excellence. The Centre has built cooperation with scholars worldwide and aims to develop further this current collaboration and to launch further research initiatives. With our programme of international conferences, workshops and seminars, we also provide a forum for the discussion of topics relevant to Kurdish Studies.

Our focus on Kurdish Studies places the Kurds at the centre of our research and teaching activities, and offers a chance to consider Kurdish society, culture and politics holistically in all its complexity and variation, across and within established nation-states and the global diaspora community.

The European Centre for Palestine Studies

The European Centre for Palestine Studies (ECPS) was the first of its kind in the world. It is dedicated to researching and teaching the modern history and current affairs of Palestine and the Palestinians. Professor Ilan Pappe and Dr Ghada Karmi founded the ECPS in 2009, building on the work already done in the university, by the Palestine Studies Trust founded by Dr Uri Davis in the early 1980s.

It focuses on post graduate studies and offers special programs, lectures and workshop on Palestine in the past and in the present. It is now part of a network of similar centres around the world, all working together to build a solid scholarly infrastructure on Palestine and the Palestinians that has already benefited anyone involved in the search for peace and justice in this part of the world.

ECPS draws upon the expertise of a distinguished group of scholars in Middle Eastern Studies, both from IAIS and from various departments in the university.

The Centre for Islamic Archaeology

Founded in June 2017, the Centre for Islamic Archaeology in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter is a centre for teaching and research on all aspects of Islamic archaeology and Islamic material culture studies across the World, and for all periods. Adopting an anthropologically informed and historically aware approach, staff expertise encompasses epigraphy, maritime archaeology, ethnography, and archaeology. Cross-disciplinary research and teaching is a core strength of the Centre through active links with university departments in Europe, Africa, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as across the University of Exeter. Fieldwork is one of our core activities, and in which many students participate either through their own projects, or as part of staff-led fieldwork.

The Centre hosts several major externally funded research projects and a thriving PhD student community. Public engagement and presentation of research results is a further key activity of the Centre, through Exhibition curation in the Street Gallery in the Institute, and elsewhere, and via conferences such as Indian Ocean World Archaeology (Exeter, 2020) or Islamic Archaeology in Global Perspective (Bahrain, 2017) lectures, and seminars.

 

 

The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies hosts a diverse and thriving research community, and the Centre for Islamic Archaeology where I am situated has been particularly dynamic and prosperous since its founding in 2017. The Centre is home to an inclusive and motivational Ph.D. community, supervised and supported by Prof. Timothy Insoll and Dr. John P. Cooper, who are active in working collaboratively with each other as well as local stakeholders and archaeologists in the regions in which we research.

I have found the Centre and IAIS to be encouraging of my research endeavours and uniquely resourced, providing and facilitating opportunities that I would not have found elsewhere, resulting in a truly holistic doctoral experience.

Hannah, PhD in Islamic Archaeology.

The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies has been the ideal home from which to develop as a researcher, an academic and an activist. My supervisors are a constant source of support and encouragement, and every conversation we have, whether “real-life” or “virtual”, is galvanizing. The sense of community at the Institute is the backbone of my work; even informal chats over lunch in the common room leave me with fresh perspectives, new sites of enquiry and sources of inspiration for my research.

The interdisciplinary nature of the IAIS provides such a dynamic platform for critical intellectual work, the range of guest lectures and seminars on offer is impressive, and such events and conferences provide a vital opportunity to situate your work within debates which extend far beyond the walls of the Institute.

My PhD study has been by far the most meaningful endeavour of my life, academic and otherwise. My research continuously troubles my assumptions and understandings of the world around me, it forces me to confront my position in that world and inspires me too to transform that world.

Charlotte Sefton, PhD Arab and Islamic Studies.

Facilities

The Institute building was constructed in 2001 in an architectural style evocative of the Middle East, and houses superb facilities including:

  • computerised language lab
  • computing and audio-visual equipment
  • lecture theatres and seminar rooms
  • lounge with satellite TV for viewing Middle Eastern channels
  • a postgraduate centre
  • cafeteria

The University of Exeter Library is the location of the Arab World Documentation Unit, one of the major Arab and Islamic Study research collections in the UK. It provides reference materials covering the Gulf Region; Middle East economics, politics, and history; the history of the Gulf wars and the Arab-Israeli conflict; and the history of British and international involvement in the region, from the 18th century onwards.

If you are considering study at Exeter we strongly encourage you to visit the impressive facilities and meet with staff and students in your area of interest.

The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies hosts a diverse and thriving research community, and the Centre for Islamic Archaeology where I am situated has been particularly dynamic and prosperous since its founding in 2017. The Centre is home to an inclusive and motivational Ph.D. community, supervised and supported by Prof. Timothy Insoll and Dr. John P. Cooper, who are active in working collaboratively with each other as well as local stakeholders and archaeologists in the regions in which we research.

I have found the Centre and IAIS to be encouraging of my research endeavours and uniquely resourced, providing and facilitating opportunities that I would not have found elsewhere, resulting in a truly holistic doctoral experience.

Hannah, PhD in Islamic Archaeology.

The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies has been the ideal home from which to develop as a researcher, an academic and an activist. My supervisors are a constant source of support and encouragement, and every conversation we have, whether “real-life” or “virtual”, is galvanizing. The sense of community at the Institute is the backbone of my work; even informal chats over lunch in the common room leave me with fresh perspectives, new sites of enquiry and sources of inspiration for my research.

The interdisciplinary nature of the IAIS provides such a dynamic platform for critical intellectual work, the range of guest lectures and seminars on offer is impressive, and such events and conferences provide a vital opportunity to situate your work within debates which extend far beyond the walls of the Institute.

My PhD study has been by far the most meaningful endeavour of my life, academic and otherwise. My research continuously troubles my assumptions and understandings of the world around me, it forces me to confront my position in that world and inspires me too to transform that world.

Charlotte Sefton, PhD Arab and Islamic Studies.

Careers

Arab and Islamic Studies postgraduates have progressed on to a wide range of careers in the UK and internationally, helped by the reputation of the Institute. These positions span both the public and private spheres and have included academia, journalism, security and political roles.

As a postgraduate at Exeter, you will be able to take advantage of the wealth of business contacts, support and training offered by our Career Zone.

This includes our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme for research students which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your PhD and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Arab and Islamic Studies postgraduates who studied with us in 2016/17.

Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Acquisitions Team Member: Arabic BBC Media Action
Research Fellow Indonesian Embassy
Executive Director Iraq Energy Institute
MP Iraqi Parliament
Lecturer Islamic University in Medina
University Lecturer St Andrews
Language Instructor United States Department of Defense
Presentation The British Library
Interviewer, protection officer UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Research Fellow Indonesian Embassy

Entry requirements 2020

Our YouTube channel provides lots of helpful advice and information from staff and students about the PhD experience at Exeter.

You may wish to read our research programme application process page, which gives tips on how to put together a successful research degree application.

Applicants for research programmes are also advised to visit the College's webpages to check for specific advice (see further information link). Here you will be able to find out about staff research interests and make preliminary enquiries about supervision. We advise that you do this before applying.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.

TOEFL IBT*

Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2020/21

Following your registration, tuition fees for subsequent years of study may increase to take into account inflationary pressures – this will not exceed 3 per cent per year of study.

Tuition fees per year 2019/20

Following your registration, tuition fees for subsequent years of study may increase to take into account inflationary pressures – this will not exceed 5 per cent per year of study.

Funding

Our Postgraduate Funding webpage provides links to further information. If you are considering a PhD in the future, in addition to University of Exeter funding, we have been successful at securing postgraduate funding for PhD research through our Funded centres.

Current available funding

Contact us

The Doctoral College PGR Support Team helps to support both intellectual and social contact between graduates of different disciplines and from different backgrounds and countries. Our team supports both prospective and current postgraduate research students.

We welcome enquiries about the degree, for further information contact:

Postgraduate Research admissions

Phone: 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers)*
            +44(0)1392 723044 (EU/International callers)

Web: Enquire online

 

We would encourage all potential applicants to look at the academic staff profiles and consider who may be a suitable supervisor within the department. It is best to contact them by email to discuss possible directions for a research proposal and see if they are able to supervise your chosen topic ahead of submitting an application.

 

* Calling us on an 0300 number will cost you the same as a call to a standard landline number starting with 01 and 02. If you have an inclusive call package for calling landline numbers on your mobile or landline telephone the call would simply be reduced from your available talk minutes. Otherwise your call will be charged at the same rate as calling a standard national rate number.

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