The Institute has the strongest REF2014 results of any Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies department in the UK submitted to the Area Studies Panel, and they establish Exeter as the leader in the field in terms of research quality, impact and environment. Find out more.

The Institute has several research centres focusing on various geographical and subject areas.

Our research

Research in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) is divided into three disciplinary research clusters.  Staff and postgraduate students (MA, MPhil and PhD students) are affiliated to one these clusters, sharing research findings and participating in seminars, lectures and research projects.

Associate Professor William Gallois is the current Director of Research in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

Research clusters

We have three clusters:

Middle East Social Sciences cluster

Studying the Middle East using primarily the tools of political science and international relations, this grouping examines social and politics movements in the Middle East and North Africa.  PhD students are studying topics as diverse as State-society relations in Post-revolutionary Iran, The Arab Spring and social movements and Islamist Radicalism in the Middle East context.  Its lead research project is Dr Marc Valeri's ESRC-funded State-Business Relations in the GCC: The Role of the Business Actors which examines whether political reform is influenced by the business community in the Gulf states.  With six members of staff, and around 30 PhD students, this group offers a rigorous but innovative advanced social science training, coupled with wide geographical coverage and a strong disciplinary base.

Middle East Humanities cluster

Focusing on the history, archaeology, literature and culture of the Muslim world, this grouping engages with a variety of arts and humanities disciplines.  Staff expertise ranges from contemporary oral history of the Middle East, through the archaeology of the Muslim World, to classical and modern literature in Arabic, Persian and Kurdish.  The 20 strong PhD student community cover a similarly broad range of topics, pursuing the historical, archaeological, literary, anthropological and linguistic research methodologies.  Staffed by eight full-time researchers, the group aims to apply a variety of research methods to the culture and history of the Muslim world.  Current primary research projects in the cluster are Prof Christine Allison's The Worlds of Mandaean Priests funded by Arcadia Foundation and examining the ritual life and language of the rapidly disappearing Mandaean community in Iraq and Prof Timothy Insoll's ERC Advanced Grant (694254 ERC-2015-AdG) project Becoming Muslim: Conversion to Islam and Islamisation in Eastern Ethiopia.  The latter is exploring Islamisation and the formation of diverse cultural identities in the Harar and Dire Dawa regions, as well as the origins of urban settlement, and evidence for participation in long distance and regional trade networks through archaeological investigation.

Islamic Studies cluster

The Islamic studies group includes postgraduate students and staff brought together by a common fascination with the theological, ethical and legal traditions of Islam.  They gather under the auspices of the Centre for the Study of Islam, which holds regular study groups, seminars and conferences.  The principal project linked to this research group is  Prof Robert Gleave's Islamic Reformulations: Belief, Governance, Violence, funded by the ESRC under the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme.  The project examines the current state and future trajectories of Muslim thought.

Area Studies

We also encourage interdisciplinary area-studies research through our research centres.  Researchers with expertise in particular regions of the Muslim world are able to pool expertise in four sub-regional research centres: