This section is primarily intended for students of the undergraduate and graduate courses in Islamic Art and Archaeology (B.A., M.St., M.Phil., and D.Phil.) at the Oriental Institute, the University of Oxford. For more information on these courses, please visit these links, or go to:, or

So far, this Study Guides section consists only of past exam questions, from 1979, when the Islamic Art course first began, until 2001. These are organised in date order, most recent first, according to the following Islamic dynasties or subject areas:

General questions
Persian Dynasties
(Ilkhanids, Timurids, Safavids)
(Samanid, Raqqa, Spain,
Ayyubid, Mamluk)

It should be emphasised that the order in which the exam questions have been grouped does not reflect the structure of the exam papers. These lists of past exam questions were compiled by Emma Dick.

Additional information given includes: the course type (eg. B.A., M.Phil.); the exam paper (eg. Paper I, Paper IV - see below); an indication of the thematic grouping in which the question was set (eg. a section on ceramics specifically, or on architecture and ceramics); also, where necessary, an indication of the dynasty/ period/ region under which the question can be categorised.

The exam papers for Islamic Art and Archaeology are structured as follows:

Paper I:   From Late Antiquity to Islam 550-900 AD
Paper II:   The Breakdown of the Caliphate 900-1250 AD
Paper III:   The Great Empires 1250-1600 AD
Paper IV:   Approaches and Problems (general paper)

Note: This exam structure has been in place since 1994. Before that the exam papers were organised in more specialised groups, such as a paper on Metalwork and Ceramics or on Painting, or called by different names (abbreviated in the lists as FOR [Formation of an International Style], REG [Regional Styles] etc). This is pointed out here for the sake of avoiding confusion, but should not be worried about since the exams are no longer organised like this.


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