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Unit information: France, Islam and Muslims: A Multi-Layered History in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name France, Islam and Muslims: A Multi-Layered History
Unit code FREN30083
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Hassett
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit explores the history of the ever-changing relationship between the French state, Islam and Muslims. Spanning five centuries from the Early Modern Period to the present day, it examines how French thinkers, French legislators and French administrators have understood and interacted with Islam as a faith, as a practice and as a culture. Furthermore, it considers the ways in which Islam as a religion and as a culture has adapted and changed in line with the evolution of politics and society in France. It seeks to cultivate in students an understanding of the variety and diversity of cultures that make up France’s heterogeneous Muslim community, challenging simplistic clichés and pointing to the agency of Muslim actors in shaping both the French state and their own religion. Topics such as Islam under colonial rule, the construction of the Paris Mosque, the headscarf debate and controversies over halal meat will be explored through the use of primary sources drawn from the press, the archives, literary and audio-visual texts.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

1. Analyse in depth primary sources from different historical periods in French, ranging from early modern texts to contemporary hip-hop songs.

2. Demonstrate in depth knowledge of the shifting and multiple attitudes that have underlain the relationship between various French regimes and their Muslim subjects and/or citizens, and ability to articulate their knowledge to a standard appropriate to this level of study.

3. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the key political and cultural transformations that have taken place in Islamic culture within the French sphere over the period in question.

4. Carry out independent research at a standard appropriate to level H.

Teaching details

A mixture of ‘open’ lectures and seminars with student participation in both formats.

2 hours per week: 1 lecture, 1 seminar

Assessment Details

Two 3000 word essays (50% and 50%) testing ILO’s 1-4.

Reading and References

  • Histoire de l'islam et des musulmans en France du Moyen Âge à nos jours, (eds.) Arkoun,
  • Mohammed, (Albin Michel, Paris, 2006)