Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Undergraduate study | Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Offering a wide range of degree combinations in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), we are the only university in Scotland to teach courses in the Muslim world’s three main languages, placing Arabic, Persian and Turkish in the context of history, literature, culture, religion and politics, past and present.

Located at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, the Middle East has played a pivotal role on the world stage from ancient times, with an understanding of the Islamic world being highly relevant in the 21st century.

Study with us and you’ll be part of a small, friendly community of staff and students, ranked fourth in the UK for our subject in the Complete University Guide 2020, with great links to the Alwaleed Centre, fantastic resources (including our own library), and a regular programme of workshops, film screenings and guest seminars, all within a School passionate about languages, literatures and cultures from around the globe. 

The University of Edinburgh has a long and well-established reputation for teaching Islam and the history, culture, languages and literatures of the Middle East. Arabic, for example, has been taught here since the middle of the 18th century. 

You’ll be based at the heart of the University in a world-leading festival city alive with culture. We have a particularly strong relationship with the Edinburgh Iranian Festival (notably its Film strand), are home to a thriving student Islamic Society, and have won awards for our work with local communities.

Your learning at a glance

  • We offer degrees in four main areas: Arabic; Islamic Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; and Persian.
  • All IMES-led degrees include an element of language learning (some more than others), within the context of the rich and diverse cultures of the Middle East and the Islamic world. Regardless of the focus on your degree, you’ll also develop the critical, analytical and comparative skills to interpret and discuss key issues and concepts.
  • It doesn’t matter if you're a complete beginner, you can take Arabic or Persian to degree level, either as single honours subjects, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects. We also teach Turkish to intermediate level.
  • You’ll complete a four-year MA degree, with your third year spent abroad if you’re studying Arabic or Persian. If your degree isn’t language focused, you may still have the opportunity to study abroad.
  • You’ll be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, in the city’s historic centre, close to the Main University Library (housing over 23,000 IMES resources) and the National Library of Scotland.

Undergraduate study | Arabic

Muslim children
Through the study of the written and spoken language (the world's fifth most widely spoken), open the door to the Arabic-speaking world, past and present.

Undergraduate study | Persian

Women under Islamic arches
Learn the Persian language and uncover the rich and diverse cultures of Iran, Afghanistan, Persian-speaking Central Asia, and the Persian diaspora.

Undergraduate study | Islamic Studies

Combine the study of Islam's rich history, culture and intellectual heritage with its place in the modern world.

Studying Middle Eastern Studies

The Middle East lies at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, and is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, among other religions.

Visit us

Our undergraduate Open Days are a great chance to find out about student life in Edinburgh from the people who know it best: our students and staff. For potential students wishing to start their undergraduate degree in 2020, this year's Open Days are on 10th June 201921st September 2019 and 5th October 2019

Go to the University of Edinburgh web page on undergraduate Open Days