Political Islam: From Ibn Taymiyya to ISIS

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kirsten Schulze SAR 2.12


This course is available on the MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia), MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course has six objectives: i. To examine the evolution of political Islam as a set of ideas. ii. To compare and contrast different models of Islamic State. iii. To explore the strategies used by Islamist movements to Islamise a state as well as state strategies to prevent this. iv. To explore the phenomena of transnational Islamism and international jihadism. v. To analyse and evaluate the relationship between Islam and the West. vi. To familiarise the student with some of the primary sources (in translation) and the historiographical controversies. This course looks at the evolution of Islamist philosophy and movements,  focusing on ideas as well as intellectual, religious and political leaders. The key areas covered are: Islamist thinkers - Ibn Taymiyya, Wahab, Afghani, Abdu, Rida, al-Banna, Qutb, Maududi, Khomeini, Faraj, Azzam and Zawaheri; Models of Islamic State - Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Turkey; Islamist Movements – the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, Hizb'allah, Hamas, the Islamic Salvation Front,  and Boko Haram; transnational Islam and international jihadism - Al-Qaeda,  Jama'at Islamiyya,  and  ISIS.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

One formative essay (3,500 words) in Michaelmas Term.

Indicative reading

Mansoor Moaddel and Kamran Talattof (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Islam ( St.Martin's Press, 1999); Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Warlords (Pan Books, 2000); Gabriel Warburg, Islam, Sectarianism and Politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya (Hurst, 2003); Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, (American Trust Publications, 1990); Gilles Kepel, The Roots of Radical Islam (Saqi, 2005) new version of Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: the prophet and pharaoh (1985); Oliver Roy, Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Umma (Hurst, 2004); Richard Bonney, Jihad: From Qur'an to bin Laden (Palgrave, 2004).


Essay (35%, 3500 words) in the LT.
Essay (35%, 3500 words) in the LT.
Presentation (15%) and class participation (15%) in the MT and LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2017/18: 32

Average class size 2017/18: 16

Controlled access 2017/18: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information