Muslims in Britain: exploring diversity and challenging stereotypes

Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray, lead educator on Cardiff University’s free online course “Muslims in Britain: Changes and Challenges,” explains how current scholarship is looking beyond media representations to reveal a rich history and an infinite variety of individual experiences.

Muslims in Britain: changes and challenges

One of the first things we did when putting “Muslims in Britain” together was to ask Muslims from the local Cardiff community to explain their stories of how their families came to live in the area. The result – which can be seen in a video near the middle of our course – was a collection of narratives which stretched from Mombasa to Dhaka, across England and Wales, and involved textile workers, schoolchildren, bankers and chaplains.

The cumulative effect of these multiple voices was to present a challenge to any one-dimensional depiction of British Muslims: the incredible ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of the population was brought to life.

It is this emphasis on the lived experience of individuals that gives our course its unique character. Over four weeks, learners will gain an understanding of the beliefs and practices of British Muslims, explore the long history of the relationship between Britain and Islam, before turning to communities in Britain today and key contemporary debates.

At each point, we want you to view these topics through the lens of real experiences. For example, when considering the issue of gender for British Muslims, we hear directly from Rehanah Sadiq, who was the Muslim chaplain supporting the 2012 Olympic games. She has an enormous wealth of experience working with British institutions and communities.

This emphasis on a multiplicity of voices reflects an important research methodology used in the work of the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK at Cardiff University. By joining us on “Muslims in Britain: Changes and Challenges,” you will also start to develop these tools as a way of building their understanding of those around them.

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Comments (40)


  • Abu bakkar siddique

    I am very excited to get this job about Muslims in the United Kingdom and I believe that this will be a great achievement in the future 🔮 thanks

  • irma pelitawati

    I’m so excited to follow this course as I come from a country with the biggest Muslim’s population in the world and I’d like to know more about Muslim in Britain since I plan to pursue my master degree in the UK.

    Warm regard from Indonesia

  • Lesley Hodgson

    I took advantage of the recent Open Mosque Day to do a little research of my own. Loved my first experience of being in that environment and my partner, who reluctantly came with me, raved about it for days afterwards. I’m really looking forward to this course.

  • lokmane

    Good morning all friends all over the world I hope that you will be okay The world has become a small information became available I hope to take advantage of good information and real, useful and meaningful, especially serving Islam and science and progress … Thank you my friends .. Let us think of the development of the economy of the Islamic force in our hands, let us make every effort to be the Leadership owners and senior economists in the world think of the establishment of companies in the world serving the advantages and our originality and not contrary to the components of Islam What wonderful to be Muslims and powerful at the same time that allah loves the strong believer allah bless you and us in the service of Islam and the science and economics Brother lokmane… Algeria….thx

  • lokmane

    “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela
    ma cha allah…Islam religion of the world … is a religion of peace .. and higher thought religion of freedom … Thanks. Allaah … Islam is the most wonderful…alhamdu lillah……………

  • Tazeen Hasan

    I am thrilled. Can’t wait to see it running.

  • Carolyn Neogi

    I’ve just joined the Course after hearing about it from an enthusiastic Baha’i friend in Cyprus. These comments seems to be from a previous year. Do the Courses rotate? I’m happy to catch up, but other, working, friends may feel it’s too late but appreciate the opportunity to do it next year?

  • Atik Tapipin

    Really exited to be part of this course


    em enrolled and hope it will be an interesting and informative course for me being a student of Islamic Studies….

  • Jemma


    Just a quick question to clarify…
    Is there an assessment criteria for this 4 week course, such as an essay or report?
    I’m currently a R.E PGCE student and would find this course particularly useful in regards to building on my prior knowledge for teaching Islam & it’s misconceptions effectively! I have previously (during my PGCE) attended an ‘EYST’ workshop which enabled me to regard these issues, yet I can only perceive that this course will elaborate on these issues!

    Also, I’d like to know how the 4h p/a would be measured and assured?

    I’m interested in doing this, but would like clarification on what my participation would be, and whether this would be flexible enough as I’m on placement, with academic commitments.

    Many thanks,


    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Jemma,

      Thanks for your interest in the course. The 4 hours per week are just a guide – you can spend more or less time if you wish, and work through each week at your own pace. You don’t have to complete the course within four weeks, but the majority of discussion with other learners will take place in this time.

      Each week is divided into “Steps,” which you can “Mark as complete” as you move through them, in order to measure your progress.

      There are no essays or reports, but two short quizzes in Week 1 and Week 2, and a short test in Week 4. These are entirely optional, but you’ll need to take them (and complete the majority of steps) if you want to buy a Statement of Participation. This is a printed certificate, which many of our learners use to demonstrate continuous professional development.

      You might find this guide useful:



      • Sarah corrigan

        Thank you for this clarification – I’m in the second phase of PGCE English Literacy and ESOL so had the same concerns so I’m happy to read this and keen to start!
        thank you

  • Ronnie Daniel

    Hello Sophie,

    This sounds like an interesting course.

    I am in the Caribbean. I would like to join this course but wondering about the time. We are 4-5 hours difference in time. Please advise on the time.

    • Tazeen Hasan

      Welcome Ronnie

      No problem. It is flexible.


    HI,i am hasan from a undergraduate student.I shall expect this course is enjoyable and usefull for us.

  • Jeremy Rodell

    I’ve enrolled. It looks like this has a good fit with this humanist/Muslim dialogue event: which I hope will lead to others.

    By the way, it would have been nice if at least one of the women in the pic was not wearing a headscarf. All the Muslim women I’ve heard talk about this say that it’s a choice, not a requirements, and some do it, others don’t (example: Sara Khan, Yasmin Rehman).

    • Imogen

      Can I second your comments about the headscarf. Many Muslim women I know want to see images of BOTH veiled and unveiled Muslim women. I was saddened to see in British university publicity campaign posters recently only veiled British Muslim women as representative. There is a multiplicity of narratives about the veil in Islam,its origins and meanings.

    • Saeeda Asma Yousuf

      Commenting on:
      “All the Muslim women I’ve heard talk about this say that it’s a choice, not a requirements, and some do it, others don’t”

      Covering your head is a choice, only in the same way like doing good or bad is a choice! You can make anything a “choice” according to what you want.

  • Harfiyah

    Bravo Sophie, This is groundbreaking work!

  • Edis Bevan

    Course looks interesting. What are the teaching media? Is it accessible for a deaf person? For example if videos used, are these subtitled or have texts available?

    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Edis,
      Thanks for your interest in the course. The teaching media are a mix of videos, articles, quizzes and discussions. All of our videos have English subtitles and transcripts are available as PDF downloads.
      Hope that helps.

  • Saba

    hi-this looks very interesting. However, i am just a bit concerned that the images used here don’t appear to be representative of the Muslim community in Britain. As the idea is that of understanding multipicity of experiences and challenging stereotypes, i am wondering again if these images do justice to both the aims. Just out of criosity are these images of respondents from your research who may have been from particular location with a certain Muslim ethnic demography?

    • Sophie Gilliat-Ray

      Thanks for your comments. It would be impossible to find a set of images that “represent” Muslim communities in Britain, but nevertheless, the people from the local Muslim community who kindly agreed to be photographed for the course include those with different ethnicities, languages, religious ‘schools of thought’, genders, generations and ages, and varying levels of religious practice. It is difficult to carry images of very young children for obvious reasons, and Muslim elders often feel uncomfortable about being photographed. There is a lot more contextual information and discussion in the course itself: we hope that you’ll be able to join us when we go live on the 9 February!

  • malak

    please enrol me for this course

  • Swarna Gill

    Would absolutely love to do the course. Please enrol me.

  • Amina Ahmed

    How do i join?

  • Lynda broad

    Would like to join the Muslims in Britain course.

  • coral

    Love to join this course

  • Cecil Weymouth

    Please enrol me on tis course