Starting next academic year, the University of Warwick will offer a one term course, the “Postgraduate Award in Islamic Education”, which is designed to bridge the gap between Islamic seminaries and modern tertiary education. This will be the first course of its kind to be offered at any UK university.
Islamic seminaries and madrasas are institutions that specialise in teaching the study of theology and law in Islam, but many offer courses in other areas of study alongside this specialism. However, it can be troublesome transferring those accreditations into Western academia.
The access course offered by Warwick is targeted at educators and potential academics. Students from seminaries will have the chance to learn Western pedagogy and academic skills, and upon successful completion may choose to continue on to the Islamic Education pathway MA (Masters degree) in Religions, Society, and Education.
The course is not just on offer for graduates of seminaries: those interested in progressing onto the MA degree but who lack the necessary Bachelor degree may also choose to take the course. According to the university website, there will be a focus on studying the rich history of education in Islam as well as engaging with modern theory.
Dr Abdullah Sahin, Reader in Islamic Education in the Centre for Education Studies, and one of the main people involved in the development of the course, said: “This pioneering short course – the first of its kind to be offered in any UK University – was developed after a decade of research into exploring the needs of a large group of community-based education practitioners who feel they have been left out of the education system altogether.
“The course is designed to bridge the gap between the educational cultures of traditional Islamic seminaries and modern higher education. We hope it will help to widen participation in higher education and make a significant contribution towards mainstreaming traditional Islamic higher education.
“The course will also make an important contribution towards improving the quality of teaching and learning within formal and informal Islamic educational settings such as madrassa, mosques and Islamic schools. As such the course is the first real step in setting the educational and pedagogic standards for the training of Muslim faith leaders and teachers in the UK and preparing them to better respond to the impact of religious extremism and radicalisation.”