Photo of Emeritus Professor Ian Netton

Emeritus Professor Ian Netton


Professor Emeritus


01392 723365


Professor Netton was born in Singapore and studied for his BA in Arabic at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, graduating in 1972, and his PhD at the University of Exeter (Arabic and Islamic Studies, 1976), specialising in mediaeval Islamic Philosophy. From 1977 to 1995 he taught at Exeter University where he was latterly Reader in Arab and Islamic Civilization and Thought. In September 1995 he became the University of Leeds first Professor of Arabic Studies and he remained in Leeds until 2007, serving four terms as Head of that University's Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. He was also Director of Leeds University"s Centre for mediaeval Studies from 1997-2002. In 2007 he was appointed Sharjah Professor of Islamic Studies at Exeter University. Professor Netton’s primary research interests are Islamic theology and philosophy, Sufism, mediaeval Arab travellers, Arabic and Islamic bibliography, comparative textuality and semiotics, comparative religion and general Islamic Studies.

He is the author or editor of 23 books of which some of the most recent are Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration (Edinburgh University Press, 2006), Islam, Christianity and the Mystical Journey: A Comparative Exploration (Edinburgh University Press, 2011) and (ed.) Islamic Philosophy and Theology (4 vols., Routledge, 2007).  He was the editor of The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies for many years and served on several national committees as, for example, Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Panel 8 (Philosophy, Religious Studies and Law), and as a Sub-Panellist in his field for the Research Assessment Exercise of 2008. He is also a member of the research cluster for Islamic studies within the Institute.

Research interests

See Above

Research supervision

I am happy to supervise students in most classical and modern fields of Islamic studies with the exception of economics. I have a particular interest in classical Arab and Islamic history, Islamic theology and philosophy, sufism, medieval Arab travellers, Arabic and Islamic bibliography, Islamic art and architecture, comparative textuality and semiotics, and comparative religion. I am willing to supervise students in all these areas. As an external or internal examiner, I have examined more than one hundred and forty doctoral dissertations in numerous UK universities.

Research students

Research Students/Topics recently or currently supervised - a selection:

  • The ethics of the Mu'tazili theologian 'Abd al-Jabbar
  • Medinan Islam in the Ayyubid Period
  • Al-Ghazali and his critics
  • Early Islamic Waqf
  • Fez and The Book of Walls