Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Undergraduate study | Arabic

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.

Why study Arabic in Edinburgh?

A photo of a group of children in an Arabic speaking country

The fifth most widely spoken language in the world, Arabic is the main language of more than 250 million people inhabiting a huge swathe of land extending from the Atlantic coast of North Africa to the Persian Gulf. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and, as well as opening the door to a fascinating and varied region, provides access to the rich intellectual heritage of Islam.

Arabic has been taught at the University of Edinburgh for over 260 years, and today our School is recognised in the UK and internationally as a leading institution for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), ranked fourth in the UK for Middle Eastern & African Studies in the Complete University Guide 2020.

Available in multiple degree combinations, our programmes are designed to give you a thorough grounding in both classical and modern Arabic, giving you access to a wide range of original material, from pre-Islamic poetry and Islamic religious texts, to Arabic novels and television.

Study with us and you’ll be part of a friendly international community, with great links to the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, fantastic resources (including our own library), and a regular programme of workshops, film screenings and guest seminars.

In language tutorials, the groups are small and you get lots of personal attention. I appreciate the very high teaching standards offered and the enthusiasm and welcoming attitude of the staff. Lectures and tutorials are interesting, informative and fun.

Archie VickersArabic and Persian MA (Hons) student

Your learning at a glance

  • You can take Arabic with Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies as a single honours subject, or study Arabic jointly with one of a range of other subjects. It doesn’t matter if you're a complete beginner.
  • Alongside the written and spoken language, you'll acquire a good knowledge of the Arabic-speaking world, past and present, including its literature, culture, history, religion and politics.
  • You’ll engage with a broad range of subjects in your first two years, and specialise thereafter, developing your expertise in the periods and disciplines that interest you most. At all levels, we have an extensive range of courses to choose from.
  • You’ll complete a four-year MA degree, with your third year spent in full, or in part, in a country where Arabic is spoken.
  • You’ll be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, in the city’s historic centre. Our Georgian building has its own library and the Main University Library is just across the square from us, housing over 23,000 IMES resources, including the Serjeant and Watt Collections.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to go beyond just studying Arabic in class and applying my Arabic skills in my politics courses about the Middle East.

Alice DemillecampsArabic and Politics MA (Hons) graduate

Degree combinations

If you’d like to take Arabic as part of a joint honours degree, we have a very wide range of other subjects for you to choose from. You can currently study any of the following programmes (links take you to detailed information on the University of Edinburgh's online Degree Finder)...

Arabic with Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies - single honours

Arabic and Persian Arabic and Social Anthropology

Arabic and French

Arabic and Spanish Arabic and Ancient Greek

Arabic and History

Arabic and Economics Arabic and Politics

Arabic and Business

International Business with Arabic*  

* This degree combination does not have the same structure as all the others, though it is still a four-year degree with a study abroad element. 


Where might Arabic take you?

Find out more and apply

There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Arabic programmes on the University of Edinburgh website. For example, you can find out about entrance requirements, English language requirements, fees, and funding opportunities. You can also see a breakdown of study year-by-year, and find out how you'll be taught and assessed.

Take me to the University of Edinburgh web page on undergraduate programmes in Arabic

If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Take me to the University of Edinburgh web page on making a UCAS application

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. Our next Open Days will be for students wishing to start their undergraduate degree in 2021. The Open Days scheduled for 26th September and 10th October 2020 are currently still planned to go ahead. The University is also working to develop an online alternative for prospective students thinking about starting university in 2021.

Keep up to date with Open Day information on the University of Edinburgh website 

This information was last updated in March 2020 for prospective students wishing to start studying with us in September 2021.