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Comparative Studies of Islamist Movements


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Dr Matthijs van den Bos
  • Assessment: a 2000-2500-word essay (25%) and a three-hour examination (75%)

Module description

In this module we will help you understand a selection of contemporary Islamist movements. The emphasis is on comparing these political-religious actors in terms of their ideologies, their strategies and their organisational structures.

As well as dealing with the views of Islamist movements of competing ideologies such as liberalism, socialism, nationalism and fascism, we will study the historical development of the relationship to states in the Middle East and of friction with the West.

Looking at the range of movements, this allows for an informed debate about choice of political strategies, which range from accommodationist policies and non-violent opposition to violence and militancy.

Indicative syllabus

  • The relationship between political Islam and ideological currents such as liberalism, socialism, nationalism and fascism
  • Profile of contemporary Islamist movements: ideologies, organisational structures and strategies
  • Wahhabism
  • The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
  • The Jama'at-e Islami in Pakistan
  • Iranian reform movements
  • Hizbollah in Lebanon
  • Al-Qa'ida and its affiliates
  • ISIS and its affiliates
  • Islamist groups in the UK: Hizb al-Tahrir, al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a broad understanding of a selection of major Islamist movements
  • compare the ideological positions of major Islamist movements in relation to competing ideologies such as liberalism, socialism, nationalism and fascism
  • critically assess the politics of these movements in relation to authoritarian states in the Middle East but also vis-a-vis the West
  • understand the differences amongst Islamist movements in terms of their organisational structures
  • assess the choice of strategies which range from accommodationist polities to militant tactics in relation to movements' ideologies and their organisational structures
  • understand, analyse and critically engage a variety of sources and data relating to the study Islamist movements.