Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module LAW42130: Islamic Law

Department: Law

LAW42130: Islamic Law

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.
Tied to M1K116
Tied to M1K216


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This course provides students with an introduction to the origins and sources of Islamic law, including both issues of theory such as the relationship between Islam and the State and practical application of these concepts such as Contractual Relations and Islamic Banking Regulation; Islamic Criminal Law and Islamic Family Law, including Inheritance. Both generally and within these areas of law, the course will consider the relationship between contemporary provisions and Islamic religious sources, including methods of development such as usul al figh. These legal areas are chosen in recognition of the phenomenon of globalisation, which has seen Western and Islamic communities living in closer proximity than ever before and in the hope that students will be able to draw suitable comparisons between these specific spheres of Islamic law and the more secular Western system


  • To provide students with the necessary context for subsequent units, the basic outline of Islamic law will be set out, including its religious and historical importance in Muslim societies. The lectures will build upon the definition of basic terms and sources of Islamic law, including use in litigation and application in society. An overview of the major mechanisms for legal development will be provided, such as usul al figh (developments based on considered opinions of authoritative religious figures) and ijtihad (making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources). Their advantages and disadvantages will be reviewed, as well as the extent to which they can be used to reform the various areas of civil, family and criminal law, analysed throughout the additional units. Students will be able to engage in comparative analysis between Western and Islamic sources of law. The Unit will also address the means by which Islamic Law and the State interact in practice, looking at examples of differing integration levels in a variety of Islamic states. The constitutional implications of state systems based on Islamic Law, including the status of government, will be considered from a legal perspective and with practical examples. The potential conflict between power (of the state) and authority (of schools of Islamic law) will be considered, especially in view of the changing balance between the two in the 21st century. To this end, the unit will provide an overview of the major academics' stances on the issue both in the Islamic and Western world.
  • Civil Law: Contractual Relations and Islamic Banking Regulation
  • Islamic Criminal Law & Human Rights
  • Islamic Family and Inheritance Law

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of the origins and sources of Islamic Law, facilitating an understanding of other specifically chosen legal areas, with emphasis placed upon the underlying structure and application of Islamic legal principles today
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Throughout the Module, students will employ material from a range of sources to support learning of the core and substantive units. They will be able to apply the sources of Islamic Law and the cornerstone principles therein, to form a holistic appreciation of the role of Islamic Law in modern society.
  • Upon completion of the Module, students will be able to undertake research in Islamic Law, having particular regard to the substantive units covered within the LLM.
  • Students will also be able to engage in critical discourse as to the relevance and application of Islamic legal principles within Western society
Key Skills:
  • Students will be able to:
  • Undertake independent research.
  • Demonstrate an ability to understand and critically analyse complex issues of Islamic Law.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will be used to convey the main principles and rules that make up Islamic law and to point students towards further literature thereon. In private study, students will follow up such reading, and work through seminar sheets which together should promote the learning outcomes described above. In seminars themselves, students will have the opportunity to test, and to develop, their own understandings and knowledge of the materials presented in lectures/private study. The assessment will give each student the opportunity to show the extent to which (a) they have understood, and are able comprehensibly to describe and apply, the existing legal principles and rules that make up UK company law, the controversy this regulation generates, and (b) they are able critically to evaluate the arguments of others regarding these controversies.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 Weekly 1 16
Seminars 14 weekly 1 14
Preparation and Reading 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessed Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
assessed essay 3,000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination - 1.5hours 1 hour 30 mins 100%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of up to 2,000 words.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University