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 small, friendly community of staff and students, with great links to the Alwaleed Centre, fantastic resources, 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. 

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 as a single honours subject, or 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

Where might Arabic take you?

Find out more and apply

If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. There’s lots of information about the application process on the University of Edinburgh website, including detailed entrance requirements and fees.

Go to the University of Edinburgh web page on how to apply for undergraduate study

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