Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

MA Honours in Arabic

The main language of over 250 million people in the Middle East and North Africa, Arabic is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world and one of the six official languages of the UN.

Muslim children

The MA Honours course in Arabic is designed to give students a thorough grounding in both the classical and modern language, enabling them to access a full historical span of original material, from pre-Islamic poetry and classical Islamic thought to Arabic novels and cinema.

Starting at beginner’s level, in the Arabic 1a course, students are trained to reach near-native proficiency by the end of their four years of study. In the Single Honours and most Joint Honours programmes the third year is spent at an approved institution in the Middle East, where students have the opportunity to experience the life and culture of the region, put their language skills into practice, and learn a dialect.

Besides the core language studies, the department offers a range of courses designed to put the language into cultural and historical context and to provide an insight into the vast treasury of Arabic literature. These include courses in classical and modern Arabic literature, as well as historical and religious texts. With a view to future career options students are also introduced to the essential vocabulary of the Arab media, and are trained to an advanced level of proficiency in reading, aural comprehension, and two-way translation of a variety of media sources.

Degree structure

Years 1 and 2

The first and second year of the Arabic MA Honours degree provide a thorough grounding in the vocabulary and grammar of written Arabic, as well as basic competency in the spoken language. In addition, students study the history of the Middle East from the advent of Islam to the present day.

Students can also choose to study an additional language, a course on Islamic religious studies, or an optional subject or subjects from across the University's curriculum for first and second year students.

Years 3 and 4

During the third year students spend the full academic year abroad, studying at a language institute in the Arab world.

On their return in the fourth year, Arabic students continue to develop their written and spoken language skills and take optional courses in small seminar groups on the culture, literature, history, religion and politics of the Islamic world and the Middle East. Most of these courses are taught in the department of Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, but students may also choose relevant options from Classics, Divinity, History, History of Art, Politics and Social Anthropology.

A final-year dissertation allows students to develop a deeper understanding of a specific aspect of the Islamic world or the Middle East of their choosing.

Study abroad

IMES currently offers students the opportunity to study at a number of language Institutes in the Middle East and North Africa depending on the current security situation. During their third year, students will study a combination of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and spoken Arabic as part of an intensive language programme.


How to apply

Entry requirements

The programme's degree finder entry has details of entry requirements and information on learning outcomes, teaching and assessment methods, fees and career opportunities.

Joint degree options

Arabic makes a natural companion to a wide range of other subjects: