Islamic, Middle Eastern and North African Studies BA

Year of entry

2025 course information

Open Days 2024

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
3 years full time
Work placement
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Arabic and islamic studies

Studying this course, you’ll gain a deep and wide-ranging understanding of the cultures, history, politics and societies of these regions. You’ll develop your study of Islam, one of the most influential and widely practised religions in the world, and a subject of strategic importance both in the global context and in modern Britain. You’ll also learn about contemporary relevant issues of the Middle East and North Africa and explore themes such as cultural identity, sexuality, gender and race. The course gives you the opportunity to study several diverse fields, such as area studies, humanities (religious studies, history, literature, performance) and social science. It also includes the opportunity to study languages such as Arabic and Persian.

You’ll build your knowledge through a wide range of topics and pioneering approaches such as Islamic history and religion through the female lens, postcolonialism, decoloniality and Critical Muslim Studies (which has been pioneered at the University of Leeds). In addition to compulsory modules on key issues and themes, you’ll also choose from a range of optional modules such as Arab culture, politics, performance, Qur’anic Studies and Islamic law.

Alongside gaining linguistic, cultural and historical knowledge, you’ll also develop transferable skills to become a resilient and adaptable graduate. You'll enhance your ability to be self-reflective and critical and to become a considered, informed thinker.

Additional highlights

To broaden and deepen your knowledge, you’ll be able to access a wide range of co-curricular activities, such as Qur’anic Arabic and the ‘Amimiyyah’ seminars (readings of classical Islamic madrasah texts), offered by the School's Iqbal Centre for Critical Muslim Studies.

You’ll learn from leading experts in critical areas such as Islamic history, international relations, Islamic law and legal theory, Muslim reformist thought, Islamophobia and Muslim intellectual history, Women’s contributions to Islamic history, sectarian difference, historical topics including the Crusades, Islam in China, Cultural anthropology, Arab and Muslim Cinema.

Specialist facilities

The School archive at Leeds holds Arabic manuscripts and as many as 10,000 archaeological artefacts ranging from Pharaonic to early Palestinian eras. It’s a fantastic research resource – as is the University Library, which has extensive collections relating to Middle Eastern, North African and Islamic studies, along with free classes and workshops to learn how to use them.

With a variety of specialist facilities and four libraries on campus, you’ll find plenty of space for study, group work and research.

The Brotherton Library is home to a wide variety of manuscripts, archive and early printed material in its Special Collections – valuable assets for your independent research.

The Language Centre includes digital language labs, audio/video practice booths and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The Language Zone offers excellent learning material in more than 50 languages, including online resources and advice. The Language Exchange and the Language Groups programme provide opportunities to practise with other learners and native speakers; you can also volunteer to help other learners and enhance your CV at the same time.

Our Martin Thomas Translation Labs feature state-of-the-art computing facilities for translation studies as well as Interpreter Training Suites – ideal if you are considering a career in interpreting.

Brotherton Library Reading Room

Take a look around our libraries:

Course details

Year 1

Your first year will introduce you to the history, politics, cultures and religions of the Middle East and North Africa.

Year 2

You’ll undertake deeper exploration of cultures and societies of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), including Palestine, while you delve into specialist areas of study such as the Shari’a and the politics of race, gender and sexuality in the MENA.

Year 3

You'll use the research skills you have developed in your final year project – an independent piece of research on a topic of your own choosing. The range of modules at this level continue to be broad, covering the politics of the MENA, hadith studies, contemporary Muslim thought and performance.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

Introduction to Arab and Islamic Civilisation (20 credits) - Have you ever wondered about the classical intellectual foundations for modern Arabic and Islamic thought and politics? This module aims to give you a thorough grounding in a number of vital topics. You’ll examine the state of pre-Islamic Arabia, politically and religiously, before studying the historical background to the Holy Qur'an. You’ll look also at Islamic eschatology (death, judgement, Heaven and Hell), prohibitions in Islam and the position of women. It concludes by examining the contribution of Islamic civilisation to world knowledge. The module is taught over two semesters by means of lectures, seminars and discussion groups and the skill of public speaking is stressed.

Studying the Middle East: Culture, History, Politics and Religion (20 credits) - The Middle East as an area of interest is the focus of much media attention. This module surveys and attempts to study the Middle East not only as a geopolitical entity, but also as a multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-linguistic and multi-ethnic region.

Muslim Beliefs: From Theology to Sunni-Shi’a Sectarianism (20 credits) - This module provides an understanding of the historical and theological developments that underpin Muslim beliefs in the modern age. It will closely reference the Qur'an, the Prophetic Tradition (Sunna) and the most important definitions of Muslim creed. It also covers the thought of, and major studies on, theologians, philosophers and mystics who have shaped theological discourse and how these debates inform modern sectarian tendencies, especially the Sunni-Shi'a, Ash'ari-Hanbali and Sufi-Salafi divides.

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Persian for Beginners (20 credits)
  • Arabic for Beginners (20 credits)
  • Politics, Culture and Society (20 credits)
  • Early and Medieval Islamic History (20 credits)

Year 2 compulsory modules

The Shari'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations (20 credits) - The module will introduce students to the idea of Shari’a as fundamentally a religious legal discourse, focusing on origins, historical development and permutations across differing socio-political and geographical contexts. An exploration of the relationship between the Shari’a as discourse and praxis and political power is an important aspect of this module, where students will learn about the power relations which have historically fashioned, co-opted and/or curtailed the development of the Shari’a. Several case studies, including criminal law, commercial law, alcohol and sexuality, serve as pedagogical tools to elucidate the processes underpinning Shari’a formation. Finally, the contemporary dislocation of the Shari’a and the revivalist/reformist attempts at reinstitutionalisation are examined.

Cultures of the Arab Middle East and North Africa (20 credits) - This module provides you with in-depth knowledge necessary for the understanding of the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa; an introduction to critical approaches to countering fixed ideas that this region is merely a place of antagonisms.

Modern Middle Eastern History (20 credits) - This module examines the formation of the modern Middle East, in the context of imperialism, colonialism and nationalism, from the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt in 1798 to the end of the Second World War. The main trajectory you’ll explore is the move from empires to nation states in the Middle East. Within these contours, you’ll investigate the history and historiography of imperialism, colonialism and nationalism. You’ll explore the rise and decline of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman reformism, regional nationalisms including Arab, Turkish and Persian, colonialism and its impact in North Africa, imperialism in Persia/Iran and local movements, and the impact of Second World War on the Middle East.

Year 2 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Arabic for Beginners 2 (20 credits)
  • Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (20 credits)
  • Arab Media, Politics and Society (20 credits)
  • Global Jihad: From the Taliban to ISIS (20 credits)
  • The Qur'an: History, Text and Intepretation (20 credits)
  • The Politics of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle East (20 credits)

Year 3 compulsory modules

Islam and Modernity (20 credits) - The concept of modern Islamic thought represents a wide variety of intellectual currents dominating the contemporary Muslim world since roughly the revolution of the Young Turks in 1908, the rise of the nation-state and the beginning of the de-colonization process. With regards to modernity and Westernisation, Muslim responses have ranged from acceptance and justification, to rejection and a call to violence. It is possible to delineate three movements which have responded to Western hegemony of the Islamic world: liberal reformism, political Islamism, militant Islamism. This module seeks to acquaint you with the major themes and thinkers in modern Islamic thought in accordance with this typology. There is further examination of Islamic Feminism and Pluralism.

Middle Eastern Politics: Regimes, Societies and Conflict (20 credits) - The module seeks to equip you with the ability to critically explore, discuss and write on issues in Middle Eastern politics at domestic, regional and international level.

Year 3 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Candidates will be required to study one of the following Final Year Project modules: MODL3300 Final Year Project: Dissertation MODL3350 Final Year Project: Digital Documentary

  • Arabic for Beginners 3 (20 credits)
  • The Hadith: History, Criticism and Canonisation (20 credits)
  • Performing Islam: Piety and Environment in Dialogue (20 credits)
  • Final Year Project: Dissertation (40 credits)
  • Final Year Project: Digital Documentary (Podcast) (40 credits)

Learning and teaching

You’ll benefit from a variety of teaching and learning styles. Your lecturers are all experts in their fields, and you will be able to benefit from their knowledge in lectures, workshops, small-group seminars and tutorials.

Independent learning is an important element of your studies, allowing you to build your research skills and think critically about the range of different sources you can access. We offer plenty of support on everything from choosing your modules to making the most of our excellent library resources. You’ll have regular opportunities to provide feedback on teaching, course content and what is working well and what can be improved. You’ll be introduced to a range of texts and participate in inclusive safe spaces for critically engaged discussions on sensitive topics (such as gender, race, sexuality, religion, and politics).

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We use a wide range of assessments including essays, exams, literature reviews, presentations and podcasts. You’ll regularly receive detailed feedback on your coursework, helping you to keep track of your progress.

You’ll also be given opportunities to demonstrate what you have learned and communicate reasoned and well-supported arguments. It is important to note that we work hard to ensure textbooks are inclusive, that reading lists are diverse and that the teaching of both Islamic, Middle Eastern and North African Studies is done in a culturally sensitive way that moves beyond lazy stereotypes and essentialisms. Crucial to our approach is the inclusion of texts by female authors and authors of colour.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB

Other course specific tests:

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ in a relevant subject this might be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A Levels, this would be BBB at A Level and grade A in the EPQ.

We welcome applications from mature students with Access qualifications, and from students with a wide range of qualifications.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may also be required.



Cambridge Pre-U

M1, M1, M2

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall including 16 at Higher Level.

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers OR B in Advanced Highers or AAABB in Highers OR AABBBB in Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course. If you choose to undertake the Welsh Baccalaureate we would strongly encourage you to draw upon these experiences within your personal statement, as your qualification will then be taken into account both when your application is initially considered by the selection panel and again when reviewed by the admissions tutor at the time your A-level results are passed to us.

Other Qualifications

European Baccalaureate: 75%

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds offer: BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.

Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year

This course is designed for students whose backgrounds mean they are less likely to attend university (also known as widening participation backgrounds) and who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry to a degree.

The course will give you the opportunity to be taught by academic staff and provides intensive support to enable your development of academic skills and knowledge. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will progress to your chosen degree course. Find out more about the Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year.


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.


UK: £9,250 (per year)

International: £24,500 (per year)

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.


Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

Read our guidance about applying.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Contact us

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Undergraduate Admissions


Career opportunities

Your study of society and culture is valuable preparation for employment in a multicultural, multinational environment. Leeds is the 5th most targeted university in the UK by graduate recruiters (The Graduate Market in 2022) and our graduates have pursued careers across the globe and in a variety of sectors including:

  • business and finance

  • Islamic banking and finance

  • government departments and the Civil Service

  • not-for-profit organisations

  • education

  • consultancy

  • global

Increasingly, graduates with specialist knowledge of the Middle East and North Africa, Islam, Muslim communities, Islamic law, theology and contemporary trends in Islamic thought are being sought by policy institutes and think-tanks, international development organisations and the Ministry of Defence.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers. Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty also offer help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

A work placement year is a popular choice with our students as it provides an opportunity to gain invaluable work experience as part of your degree. As with study abroad, you don't have to decide whether to pursue this before coming to Leeds.

You'll apply for the work placement year when you are already here and settled into your degree. If you are successful, you'll work in a graduate-level role and return to Leeds to complete your final year.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.