REL4510 – Topics in Islamic Studies I

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Topic spring 2020: Islam in fiction

This semester, Topics in Islamic Studies focuses on Islam in fiction. We explore how a selection of recent Scandinavian and French novels deal with the issue of Islam in a European context. How is religion and Islam represented and framed? In what narrative contexts does religion occur?

We also deal with the issue of reception. How did professional critics portray the novels? Did the narratives stir public debate? What does the reception of these fictional works tell us about the place of Islam in European public spaces?

Case studies of the novels open up broader theoretical and methodological questions about interdisciplinary approaches: How may fiction constitute a primary source in the study of religion? What is the difference between using fiction as source material in comparison to fieldwork, interviews, religious texts, or historical data? What meta-theoretical questions do a literary approach to the study of Islam in Europe stir? To what extent may theoretical insights from comparative literature inform the study of religion (and vice versa)?

The seminar is exploratory and relates to the ongoing research of the instructor. It requires active and critical participation from the students with regard to 1: discussions of the source material in the light of relevant theoretical and methodological approaches, and 2: the syllabus itself. We start out with some basic texts (see preliminary reading list) but throughout the course, participants will suggest titles and works to be included in the list. Each student formulates a research question for his or her term paper related to the overall theme of the course. Drafts of the term papers will be circulated among all the participants for feedback and commentaries. One important aim of the course is to teach students the craft of research through active participation in an ongoing research process.


Examples of courses that has been given in REL4510:

Islam in fiction (spring 2019)

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will

  • have developed an understanding of and ability to articulate major themes within a specialized field
  • be able to apply theoretical concepts to the subject matter
  • have the ability to critically assess scholarly literature and primary texts
  • have undertaken an individual study in the form of an essay which reflects understanding of the learning objectives mentioned above


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

In order to take the course you have to be registered as an MA student at the University of Oslo. 


Teaching is given in the form of lectures and seminars. We meet 5 times during the semester, each time for 3-4 hours. Attendance is compulsory. The students are expected to come to class well prepared and participate actively in the learning process.

You will have to submit a first draft of the term paper halfway through the semester in order to qualify for the final examination.

The first draft is only valid for one semester.

How to apply for valid absence from compulsory activities. 


Term paper, 8 - 10 pages. Detailed information on the term paper will be given by the course teacher and published on the semester page at the start of the semester. 

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The language of examination is English. It is generally possible to submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring

The course is offered for the last time in the spring of 2020. 


Every spring

The course is offered for the last time in the spring of 2020. 

Teaching language