Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Programme structure

Our MSc Middle Eastern Studies with Advanced Arabic is a two year full-time programme consisting of language study (including study abroad over the summer), discursive core and option courses with research units and a dissertation.

In the first year you will take a core discursive course, Critical Readings in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in the first semester, two language courses, Advanced Arabic D and E over the two semesters, as well as three option courses across the year.

During the summer you will spend four months of intensive language acquisition at an approved institution in the Arab world where you will improve their Arabic language skills and expand your knowledge of Arab culture and society. The focus will be on Modern Standard Arabic but you will also be encouraged to develop your knowledge of the colloquial dialect. On return to Edinburgh, students will be assessed on both their oral and written language skills by an examination (Advanced Arabic F).

In semester one of the second year you will take Advanced Arabic G which consists of ten hours of classes per week. Lesson content includes contemporary literature, print and audio-visual media, and dynamic class activities, discussions and debates.

You will continue your Arabic instruction in the second semester with Advanced Arabic H and you will also take Research Skills and Methods in IMES which will prepare you for your 15,000-word dissertation on a relevant research topic agreed with your appointed supervisor. This will be due by the end of August.

Consult the Degree Programme Table (DPT) for full details of these courses:


The language courses take a communicative approach, combining intensive class-teaching with a wide range of activities including situational interpreting, listening and summarising, oral presentations, translation, text analysis, paraphrasing and interviewing skills. There will also be an e-learning element to the language learning.

Modern Standard Arabic and the language of educated Egyptians/ Levantine are taught together, using the Integrated Approach. Class sizes are small, and meet for between 10 and 20 hours per week, depending on the particular stage of the programme.

The research skills course will be delivered in the form of small seminar groups and workshops.

The dissertation or language-based project will involve one-to-one meetings with supervisors and detailed feedback.


Language assessment combines frequent class assessment with oral, written and listening examinations.

The other courses are assessed through written coursework, some of which is preparatory for the Final Project.