Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
Alhamdullillah, an excerpt from the Holy Qur'an

Welcome to Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Edinburgh.

We were established in 1980 by bringing together the departments of Arabic, Turkish and Persian.

Arabic has been taught at our university as far back as the middle of the 18th century, and continuously since 1880.

Our international reputation in the field of Islamic Studies is closely tied to the name of William Montgomery Watt.

The University holds over 23,000 resources in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. These include the Serjeant & Watt Collections and some of the world’s most precious Islamic manuscripts, such as Rashid al-Din’s History of the World and al-Biruni’s Chronology of Ancient Nations.

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Choose from a range of MA (Master of Arts) four-year honours degrees in:

  • Arabic
  • Islamic Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Persian

Single and joint honours combinations are available, with the opportunity to study abroad. 

We also teach Turkish to intermediate level. 

Take a taught or research programme, with degrees ranging from a one-year masters in  the Globalised Muslim World to our PhD in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. 

Open Language courses in Arabic, together with Japanese and a range of European languages, are free to all University of Edinburgh students. You can take one at any stage of your undergraduate or postgraduate programme. Each course lasts one semester and can be taken for 20 credits or for extra credit, depending on your other study commitments. Classes are suitable for complete beginners.

Find out more about Open Language courses

Promoting a better understanding of Islam and Islamic culture through ground-breaking research and innovative outreach projects.

Visit the Alwaleed Centre website

Photo of Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila with text saying in memoriam

With heavy hearts, we share the sad news of the passing of our esteemed colleague, Professor Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, on 18 December 2023 in Edinburgh. Jaakko was a cherished member of the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies community. He leaves an indelible mark as a scholar of Arabic, Persian, and Islamic culture and his absence is deeply felt within our department. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and all those affected by this tragic loss, expressing profound shock and sorrow, as we remember and honour his contribution and legacy.

Read our reflections on Jaakko's passing

QS graphic on orange background, text reads #3 in the UK, World Top 10

QS World Rankings by Subject 2024

The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Modern Languages.

Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 for Modern Languages.

The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on research citations and the results of major global surveys of employers and academics.

They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.

Browse the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024 on Top Universities

Photo of panellists talking at an event with a graphic saying 3rd in the UK

The University of Edinburgh is ranked Top 3 in the UK for research in Modern Languages.

As reported in Times Higher Education, the rankings are based on the quality and breadth of our research in Modern Languages.

They come from the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) – the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

In addition to Modern Languages, research in IMES was submitted to REF 2021 in the categories of Politics, Sociology, History and Theology.

Read more about our performance in REF 2021