Thursday, 22 February 2018
Module Six:



Students pursuing the Active Study Route of the Islamic Scholar’s Degree (‘alimiyyah) are required to write a dissertation upon an agreed topic. This module will allow students to undertake a substantive piece of research and produce a 10,000 word essay at the end of it. The dissertation provides students with the opportunity to study a topic in depth by identifying and developing a research question and then carrying out a small piece of original, independent research and analysis under the supervision of Shaykh Akram Nadwi or any other member of the academic staff. It gives students the opportunity to work in a way similar to an academic Islamic scholar: identifying a suitable research topic; mastering the relevant classical material; immersing oneself in a wide variety of primary sources, where appropriate; and being able to sustain a coherent and logical argument. As a final-year module it will encourage students to put the training received over their earlier four years of study to practical use.

Recommended Reading list: 

  • Walliam, N. S. R. (2004). Your Undergraduate Dissertation: The Essential Guide for Success. London, Sage
  • Rudestam, K. E. and Newton, R.R. (2001). Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process. 2nd ed., London, Sage


The dissertation module aims:

  • To demonstrate the student’s critical abilities, as they plan and deliver an extended, independent research project.
  • The dissertation encourages the student to manage their time effectively, organise their ideas, and extend and compliment their previous studies.
  • It will provide an opportunity to study and research on a topic in greater depth outside of the core Islamic sciences curriculum.
  • To deploy the skills, intellectual and practical, acquired during the previous four years of study.

Research Topic

The student may choose a topic on any course units taught in the foundation, intermediate or advance level, but, in principle, this research module can be on any topic related to Islam, Islamic sciences, Muslims or the Muslim world, provided that the student can demonstrate that they have analysed the topic thoroughly. The dissertation must be an original piece of research, and it should not have been published by the student previously in whole or in part in any other outlet, which includes web publications.

Word Count:

Students are required to submit a dissertation of at least 10,000 words and not more than 12,000 words (excluding bibliography, but including footnotes).


Shaykh Akram Nadwi will be the primary supervisor, but most of the lecturers who teach the Islamic Scholarship Degree are eligible to supervise the dissertation. The lecturers are not obliged to agree to supervise, thus it is at their discretion to accept the proposal. In general, the course-units that lecturers teach provide a good indication of their areas of expertise. If a student wishes to work on a topic which is not covered by the special interests of a lecturer, then the student must put his proposal to the Director of Studies within a reasonable time frame. It is the student’s duty to discuss with the member of staff whom the student wishes to be supervised by, in order to discuss the topic and title of the dissertation. Students will have one-to-one meetings with their supervisor as appropriate and will be expected to keep him informed of progress via regular email contact.


The completed Dissertation Proposal Form must be submitted online by the specified deadline in term 2 of the student’s first year of the advance level. Allocation of an individual supervisor will be organised and confirmed in the first week of term 3.

Independent Research:

This course unit is a guided research module, in which the student submits a dissertation of approximately 10,000 words on a subject of her or his own choosing in consultation with a member of academic staff. A dissertation supervisor will provide guidance as to research methods, writing skills and analysis of evidence and arguments. The student is expected to identify and develop a dissertation topic appropriate to the scale of the project which is focused into a specific research question (or set of questions) providing scope to explore sophisticated evaluative and critical issues. This course unit affords the student the opportunity to design and undertake a research project, and will therefore involve significant independent research.


During term 1 of the second year of the advance level, there will be 3 one-hour training seminars on the needs of dissertation research, and other workshops introducing key skills of research, writing and time management. This will help the student to develop the key skills for researching their chosen project and preparing a finished manuscript. By the end of term 3 of advance year one the supervisor will arrange a 30 minute group meeting. The student should have a written plan of his or her dissertation ready for discussion at the first meeting. It is then the student's responsibility to arrange and attend further supervisions during the term, with a total allocation of 1 hour 30 minutes. Supervisors will read and comment on up to 2000 words of written drafts, to be submitted as a formative assessment.


Upon successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Develop research skills, including the independent construction of a bibliography
  • Identify a research issue or question
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically analyse classical texts
  • Demonstrate the ability to gather and manage evidence from primary sources of the Shariah
  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate and critique modern scholarship
  • Exhibit confidence in expressing an opinion in an informed manner
  • Develop awareness of standards of academic presentation
  • Produce an argument that develops over the course of the dissertation.
  • Demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to a modern context


The module will cover the following topics:

  • Selecting and developing a research topic
  • Identifying research questions, aims and objectives
  • Identifying research paradigms and consequent research strategies and methodologies
  • Identifying, collecting and evaluating primary and secondary evidences or data
  • Linking research outcomes to current theory and practice


Individual submission of dissertation document – not exceeding 10,000 words.

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