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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Undergraduate Course: The First Muslim Empire: The Islamic World before Sunnism and Shi'ism (IMES10079)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe Prophet Muhammad began preaching the message of Islam in the remote highlands of west Arabia in about 610 AD, by 750 AD, his successors ruled the largest empire in history thus far-it stretched from Spain and the Atlantic Ocean in the West to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean in the East.

This course seeks to examine this pivotal event in its historical context, situating the formation of Islam in the imperial world of 6th-and 7th-century Rome and Sasanian Iran. It also seeks to understand how and why the vast early Muslim Empire, ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, took the shape it did-both in terms of its political structures and its ideological formations. This is the period before Sunni and Shi'i Islam took their classical form: how and why these sectarian positions developed as they did is rooted in these early centuries of Islamic history.

The course is taught in English, and will engage directly with many primary texts in translation, as well as the art, architecture and material culture of the late Roman and Sasanian empires.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Before enrolling students on this course, you are asked to contact the IMES Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 504182, e-mail
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 courses in a suitable subject area at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain and analyse the history of western Eurasia in the 6th, 7th and early 8th centuries.
  2. Discuss current debates about religion, ethnic identity, multilingualism and state formation in late antiquity, with particular reference to the early Islamic world.
  3. Express arguments orally and in effective academic prose on the first 150 years of Islamic history and the debates surrounding empire and state formation in this period.
  4. Critically engage with a wide range of primary literary evidence for this period in translation and understand current debates about its interpretation.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsIMES 1stMslmEmpire
Course organiserDr Marie Legendre
Tel: (01316)51 7112
Course secretaryMs Monique Brough
Tel: (0131 6)50 3618
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