Centre for Continuing Education

Morocco Course: The Islamic Kingdoms

History. See the future. It’s in the past.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

During the medieval period, the region of Morocco had a rich and dynamic culture which was a blend of Arab and Berber influences. The area came under the control of Muslims within a few years of the death of Mohamed. Berber regimes subsequently created an Empire which included most of North Africa and Southern Spain. This course examines the numerous splendid examples of Islamic art and architecture in Morocco from the arrival of Islam in AD 670 down to the colonial period.


This course aims to provide you with an understanding of the rise and fall of the mediaeval kingdoms of Morocco, developing an appreciation of the social, political and economic influences on these societies. It focuses on the origins of a unique Islamic culture in Morocco, a North African Islamic kingdom. To understand the ideological differences between western and Islamic cultures, one needs to look into the roots of cultural identity.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • discuss the main phases of Moroccan history and posess an understanding of the political and social structures of the society
  • identify key features of the region’s architecture
  • discuss various factors which contributed to the rise and fall of the successive dynasties
  • understand how Islam was practiced in NW Africa.


The arrival of Islam

In late antiquity the region of Morocco was under the control of the Byzantine Empire. In AD 670 the first Muslims arrived incorporating the area into the Umayyad Empire. The arrival of Idris ibn Abdallah saw the foundation of Fes in AD 788 and it became a centre of Muslim learning. The Idrisids were ousted in 927 by the Fatimids.

The Almoravids

From the 11th Century onwards a series of powerful Berber Dynasties arose in the region. Under the Almoravid Dynasty a new capital was established at Marrakesh in 1062 and this was endowed with splendid new mosques and madrasas (religious schools). Morocco dominated much of the Maghreb down to Senegal and southern Spain as well.

The Almohads

A new Berber dynasty known as the Almohads arose in the early 12th Century, defeating the Almoravids and taking control of much of their Empire. They ruled a vast area from the city of Rabat which acquired new grandeur. This fundamentalist regime would rule until 1269.

The Marinids and Wattasids

The Marinids were a Berber dynasty from Algeria which dominated Morocco during the 13th and 14th Centuries. During their rule Fes became an important cultural centre once again. The Wattasid Dynasty would later supplant them, ruling the Maghreb till 1549.

The Sharifian Dynasties

Morocco came under the control of successive Arab Dynasties from 1549; first the Saadian Dynasty who ruled from 1549 to 1659, and then the Alaouite Dynasty who have remained in power ever since. In the 17th Century Moulay Ismail made Meknes a glorious imperial capital. During this period the rulers of Morocco repulsed successive invasions by the Spanish and Ottomans.

Intended audience

This course will particularly appeal to those interested in political science and history.

Delivery style

Delivered as a face-to-face, interactive lecture where questions and open discussion will be encouraged.


Course handouts will be provided during class.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • Excellent and very informative course, thoroughly researched and very well presented with excellent visual material.
  • Great tutor and fantastic content. Have already recommended it to many friends and can't wait to attend another session.
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