Islamic Art and Architecture MSt

mss 0745 fol from The Khalili Collections

The MSt in Islamic Art and Architecture is a one-year degree that aims to provide tailor-made courses in order to train you for research on the history of Islamic art and architecture (to circa 1900).

Before admission to this course, you will have demonstrated that you possess the necessary qualifications in Arabic or Persian or Ottoman Turkish to use primary sources in the original language for the study of Islamic art.

You will be expected to attend tutorials, classes, lectures and seminars regularly, and tutors will give you regular assignments of written work. The structure of the course is flexible and will be tailored to the profile and interests of each student. Possible offerings include taught courses (e.g. a historical survey of Islamic art and architecture), object-based study, language classes, and essay-based options.

Many graduates have pursued doctoral study in Oxford and elsewhere, and/or successful careers at universities, museums, and in business-related fields worldwide. Examples of alumni’s current positions can be found on the Khalili Research Centre’s website.

The final examination is taken at the end of the course and consists of four elements.

The first is a thesis of between 12,000 and 15,000 words which should be equivalent to a  substantial draft chapter or chapters of a proposed thesis for the MLitt or DPhil.

The second element is either a portfolio which introduces techniques to describe and analyse buildings and objects in a range of media (such as ceramics, epigraphy, manuscripts, metalwork, numismatics, and textiles) or a report or reports on practical work completed on an object or objects that will form part of a proposed thesis for the MLitt or the DPhil.

The third and fourth elements consist of any one of the three options below:

a. two examination papers, which may be any combination of language and non-language papers (a year-long survey course on Islamic art is among the available options);

b. two extended essays which may be any two of the following:

  • an essay on the theoretical issues raised by the subject which the candidate is proposing for the thesis for the MLitt or DPhil;
  • an essay on a topic relevant to the subject of the proposed thesis for the MLitt or DPhil; or
  • an essay discussing the historical or literary background, or the source material, relevant to the proposed thesis for the MLitt or DPhil.

c. one examination paper under (a) above and one essay under (b) above.

Many graduates have pursued doctoral study in Oxford and elsewhere, and/or successful careers at universities, museums, and in business-related fields worldwide. Examples of alumni’s current positions can be found on the Khalili Research Centre’s website.

You will have a supervisor who will guide your progress through the course and who will agree with you a programme of work and a timetable for each term of the course, including: general skills and research specific training, formal teaching and instruction, attendance at lectures and seminars, and regular meetings (normally at least twice per term) with your supervisor for detailed discussions on your progress.

Tutors report to your supervisor on your progress at the end of each term, and the supervisor will write a formal report upon your work and progress during the term.


Islamic Art & Architecture is based at the Khalili Research Centre (KRC), where you will have most of your classes, lectures and tutorials. The KRC is the University of Oxford's centre for research and teaching in the art and material culture of the Islamic societies of the Middle East and of their non-Muslim members and neighbours. The KRC houses some members of Faculty Staff, and you will be given your own workspace. The centre has a lecture room with audio- visual and IT equipment; an image digitisation room (available by appointment only); common room, kitchen facilities and a computing officer, as well as a wide range of IT facilities which can be used by staff and students, including network laser printing, audio visual equipment, and scanning equipment. 

The KRC adjoins the world-class specialised collections of the Sackler Library for Islamic Art and Architecture and the Nizami Ganjavi Library for the history and literatures of the Islamic world. Some colleges (such as Wolfson College) have additional lending collections of books on Islamic Art and Architecture. The Ashmolean Museum and Weston Library, with their superb collections of Islamic art and manuscripts, are a few steps away.

In addition to this, there are a number of other specialist library collections in Oxford that focus on Asian and Middle Eastern studies, such as:

You will also have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the department's IT Officer and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the research topic. You will also have access to the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies common room and computing rooms.

Sources of funding

Applications received for this course by the January deadline will also be considered for funding if applications fulfill the eligibility criteria. Please use the University's fees, funding and scholarship search tool to find what funding you may be eligible for.

The Faculty has a number of scholarships and funding opportunities across a wide range of subjects. Please see here for a list of these opportunities.