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SOC8001 Islam and the West

Semester 1, 2020 Online
Short Description: Islam and the West
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities & Communication
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 090301 - Sociology
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Richard Gehrmann


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: MSTA or MARA

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


This course makes it possible to study Social Science at Masters level, through an engagement with some aspects of the evolving relationship between Islam, Western society and modernity. It will also deconstruct some common Western misunderstandings of Islam, and, to that end, examine the concept of liberal Islam in some depth. As such, it will facilitate an understanding of Islam and Muslim culture which will enable students to contribute effectively and critically to the multicultural societies and global economy within which they will play a part.


Islam is one of the most newsworthy, yet systematically misunderstood, religions in the world. In this course, we examine some social-scientific works that are produced within the Muslim world in order better to understand the diversity of Islam and Islam's relationship with modernity, and get behind the clichés that are often generated in media and popular commentary on 'the Islamic threat'. This course is not intended to suggest that one religion or religious culture is better or worse than any other, or to evaluate the Islamic world against divine standards. It is intended to introduce a respectful and critical approach towards students' own and other belief systems, and to consider the importance, diversity, and recent transformations of Islamic societies.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. describe the evolving relationship between Islam and certain key Western concepts, especially liberalism and modernity;
  2. show an advanced understanding of the sociology of Islam, and particularly the diversity of Islam;
  3. understand the significance of Islamic law, theology and culture to Muslim life; have an appreciation of how Islam is applied to a range of personal and social questions in different ways; recognise and understand key concepts in Islamic law, such as shari'ah, ijtihad and taqlid;
  4. show advanced skills in reading, writing, and using material which may be culturally unfamiliar;
  5. understand Islam and Muslim culture in a way which will enable them to contribute effectively and critically to the multicultural societies and global economy within which they will play a part.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction 4.00
2. Against theocracy 16.00
3. Democracy 16.00
4. Rights of women 16.00
5. Rights of non-Muslims 16.00
6. Freedom of thought 16.00
7. Progress 16.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Kurzman, C (ed.) 1998, Liberal Islam: a sourcebook, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Arkoun, M 1994, Rethinking Islam: common questions, uncommon answers, Westview Press, Oxford.
Haddad, YY & Smith, JI (eds) 2002, Muslim minorities in the West, Altamira, Walnut Creek, CA.
Halliday, F 2003, Islam and the myth of confrontation, I.B. Tauris, London.
Murata, S & Chittick, WC 1995, The vision of Islam, I.B. Tauris, London.
Said, E 2003, Orientalism, Revised edn, Penguin, London.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 26.00
Independent Study 139.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ESSAY 1 100 45 14 May 2020
ESSAY 2 100 45 04 Jun 2020
PARTICIPATION 100 10 04 Jun 2020 (see note 1)

  1. Students are expected to attend and contribute to class discussion each week. Attendance and contribution will be recorded on a weekly basis and the total mark calculated at the end of the semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

    External and Online:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students’ responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

    It is the students’ responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There is no examination in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.

Date printed 19 June 2020