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Preparatory Reading


You may find the following books interesting:

  • D. Brown, A New Introduction to Islam, Second Edition, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell (2009.)
  • F. Robinson (ed.), The Islamic World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1996).
  • T. Sonn, Islam: A brief History, second edition, Chichester: Wiley (2010).


You are expected to learn the Arabic script before you start your course. You can download a worksheet which covers what we expect students to know before they start the course here.

Alternatively you can use a book, e.g.:

  • J. Wrightwick and M. Gaafar, Mastering Arabic, third edition, Palgrave Macmillan (2007), or Mastering Arabic Script by the same authors.

If you want to start getting a feel for the language Mastering Arabic would be a good book to start looking through, or any other introduction to Modern Standard Arabic.

The textbook for the course is Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-‘Arabiyya, Part I, by K. Brustad, M. Al-Batal and A. Al-Tonsi. Make sure you get the second edition, not the third. You won’t need it for the first few weeks of the course.


  • R. Allen, An Introduction to Arabic Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2000).
  • A. J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, Oxford (1964).


  • S. Caton, Yemen Chronicle: An Anthropology of War and Meditation, Hill and Wang (2005). 


  • A. K. Bennison, The Great Caliphs: the Golden Age of the ‘Abbasid Empire, London (2009).
  • Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800, Cambridge (2003).
  • William L. Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, third edition, Boulder, Colorado (2004).
  • A. Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples, Cambridge MA (1991).
  • H. Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests, How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live in, De Capo Press (2007).
  • M. R. Menocal, Ornament of the World, New York (2002).
  • Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Boston, Bedford/St. Martins, Palgrave, Macmillan; 6th Rev Ed (13 April 2007).