MSc in Islamic Finance

#1

As this is a growth area I wondered what people thought of the place of this type of degree. The course is run by Aston University under the supervision of an Egyptian Muslim PhD.
“The programme has been developed to meet the growing interest in Shariah-compliant finance across the world. Islamic finance is a fast developing industry in the UK, and Aston Business School is leading the way with this postgraduate degree programme.
Islamic finance is currently one of the fastest-expanding sectors of the global financial market. In 2010 the actual global size of the Islamic financial industry was equal to $1 trillion” Aston University quote. This certainly has an importance and with the growth in the Middle Eastern economies and a growth related to the Libyan situation and the emancipation in particular Islamic finance cannot be ignored. The principals of course have a need to be understood as the concept of a “no interest” policy is not comfortable in the western world.
I am wondering if:
a) Anybody has experience of this course?
b) How people see this fitting into a postgraduate study area, and indeed whether this is best for those who practice the Muslim faith
c) This is a full time or a distance learning course and it would be good to know if anybody has undertaken this type of MSc on a distance learning basis.

#2

This question of Islamic finance that is one which has been puzzling me and the world I suggest for some time. Yes the buying and selling of currencies on a day to day basis is fine under Islamic law, but forward buying is not as this is tantamount to gambling. Then we have the options of hedging and other protective financial instruments. These are also in the same field as gambling. So how does the teaching of Islamic finance fit into a world where interest is an integral part. It is interest that drives the banks and the economies of the world yet it cannot apply in Islamic finance. It may be that if you live in the Middle East this type of teaching will have a relevance but if you are in finance or the banking world in the UK or USA how do you assimilate your learning.
I must admit that I think there is a strong political thinking as well as religious stronghold on this approach and I would ask if it can last. The Middle East wishes to be able to grow and integrate and yet a crucial element of finance is rebutted.
Are there any students who have studied this course and can tell us how they are integrating the learning into the world wide financial community?

#3

It seems to me that we cannot stand back and ignore the area of Islamic Finance although it as has been said does not fit easily with the concept of finance that we have in the UK. The thinking that a no borrowing or no interest policy can make a business successful goes against the grain. However I do see the need for students outside of the Muslim culture to get to grips with understanding where this developing area of finance fits. There have been for many years Muslim banks in London but they have not been overly contributive to the UK financial climate but oil wealth and the developing economy certainly are forcing the need for a greater knowledge.
The degree on offer seems to be sound and as far as I can see will allow for those that are non-Muslim to grasp the thinking. My own view is that integration of Islamic finance and conventional finance, if I can call it that, needs to be moved on apace and this degree will assist.
As with David53 I would like a contribution from someone who has taken this degree or has a grasp of Islamic finance to enlighten me on how it is integrating in the UK and whether this degree, or other degrees, are contributive to the development.

#4

I am a professor in the field of finance and my faculty has looked at this area very carefully, to the extent that last year I spent time as Aston University in order to understand their approach to this subject.
The first point I would make is that this degree attracts students form the Middle East and thus the make up of the student classes can have a bias, and students should enquire as to the mix of students.
The subject is quite new and syllabi are being developed on a regular basis and thus my faculty has decided not to progress at this moment in time. The difficulties are that the world of Islamic finance is changing with the crisis having had some significant effect, with the cultural changes we are seeing and the political situations in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt etc. All of these have and are changing the financial world and the Islamic banking scene.
The principals that have been adhered to are changing and the approach to interest is now more flexible.
My advice to any student would be to think carefully about this degree, the application of it if you do complete your studies and the value of what you will learn based on a rapidly changing market. Proceed with caution.

#5

Question is after graduation how many graduates have got a job in this field ?

With a downturn in banking where jobs are being shed it is very difficult to get a job here in the UK.

#6

I did my dissertation on Islamic Finance. The bottom line is Islamic Finance cannot exist with the current financial system. You’ll probably find some examples of Islamic Finance on the micro scale. Even countries in the middle east have banks that deal with interest and dealings with bonds.

In terms of job prospects I think your best chance in the UK is probably a research role somewhere. If you’re willing to move to another country, Malaysia is the best place to go, they have a huge market for Islamic Finance.

Another thing that is popping up these days is Takaful (a form of mutual insurance), this seems to be more popular with the public, so you may have higher job prospects there.