Faculty of PhilosophyIslamic Studies

Islamic Studies focusses on the study of the Islamic language and investigation of cultural aspects of the Islamic world from the time of Muhammad to the present day.

Islam, which originated in the Arabic-speaking countries, soon spread beyond this area to include people who spoke non-Semitic languages, and who made important contributions to the development of Islamic society. Today, the Islamic world comprises regions in Europe, Asia and Africa, from the Atlantic Coast to the Philippines and from the shores of East Africa to the streams of Siberia. The historic core countries of Islam, including the Arabian Peninsula, Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Iran with Afghanistan, as well as Anatolia and parts of Central Asia, comprise the countries where Arabic and the Turkish-Persian languages are spoken.

Special Features and Characteristics

In order to reflect the complexity and diversity of this discipline, degree programmes in Islamic Studies at Heidelberg University address three geographic and content-related specialisations in research and teaching. In the Bachelor’s degree programme in Islamic Studies these specialisations are reflected in students’ choice of languages. Specialisations become more pronounced in Master’s degree programmes via differentiated content and topics addressed in the fields of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Turkish and Ottoman Studies, and Persian and Iranian studies.


Specialisation in Ottoman Studies: 

  • Provincial history of the Ottoman Empire, with a particular focus on the Balkan countries in the early nineteenth century 
  • Documentation of the Ottoman Empire and paleography 
  • Non-Muslim populations in Islamic societies 
  • Historiography in the late period of the Ottoman Empire  
  • Journalism and the history of the press in the Ottoman Empire, Iran and Russia 

Specialisation in Arabic Studies: 

  • Literature in the Middle Ages and Modern era (poetry, Adab, Maqama, short stories, autobiography) 
  • Development of Islam (and Islamic culture) 
  • Specialisation in History (and social history): Egyptology/Syria/Lebanon/Palestine/Iraq 
  • History of Arabic Countries in the Modern Era. 

Specialisation in Iranian Studies: 

  • Culture and history of Iranian speaking countries, primarily in the Islamic era.

Occupational Areas

Graduates of Islamic Studies may pursue employment in the following fields: 

  • publishing 
  • radio and television broadcasting 
  • communications and translation 
  • further education  
  • business consultancy  
  • in trade associations with overseas contacts  
  • in international organisations such as UNESCO  
  • universities and research institutes


I study Islamic studies because I am interested in the languages, cultures and history of the Middle East.

Sebastian Libruks, 37, Islamic Studies, 7th semester Bachelor